Augmented Reality, Wonderment and the Tarot

December 24th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Simplistically speaking, Augmented Reality can be described as a realtime, interactive environment that combines the real world with the virtual.

Helen Papagiannis, a PhD candidate in Communication and Culture at York University in Toronto, designed an Augmented Reality exhibit for the Ontario Science Centre. Among other things, it involves old movies, a fog machine and my favourite part, playing cards.

Someone enters an area where there’s a platform with some cards on it. When the person places a card in the center of the platform, fog starts billowing and an image on the wall identifies the card they chose. A film by Augmented Reality pioneer, Morton Heilig then begins.

Of course for me, it would be even more fun if the cards were Tarot cards and the film that appeared was about the theme in that card, but that’s a project for another time. I think this one is great as is.

But in the video below where Papagiannis talks about her project, what I especially like is what she has to say about wonderment. Something I’ve always felt about the Tarot.

She describes wonderment as being part delight, curiosity, inquiry and action. Interestingly enough, in her presentation, she highlights these ideas in blue, pink, yellow and green.

I couldn’t help but see her descriptors as the four suits – cups for delight, wands for curiosity, swords for inquiry and the disks for action.

And when Papagiannis talks about both cinema and Augmented Reality, she describes the technology itself as being at least as entrancing as the story it tells. I’d say exactly the same thing about Tarot.

The more I think about it, Augmented Reality and the Tarot are not so dissimilar. Not only is Tarot a technology of wonderment, a tool to inspire delight, curiosity, inquiry and action. But it also plays between the worlds.

As Augmented Reality manouevers between the real and the virtual, the Tarot bridges the conscious and the unconscious, and at it’s best, the body and the soul.

Papagiannis has some advice to AR designers, technicians and scientists. She encourages them to “be responsive, and actively seek and inspire wonderment to see the world afresh.”

There couldn’t be better advice to Tarot readers everywhere. So I say ‘ditto that’.

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