Last week I returned from speaking at the “XIV. Culture and Computer Science – Augmented Reality.” The two day conference set at Schloss Koepenick, Berlin was a really positive experience for me. As with all conferences they are as much about the people you meet as they are about the papers that are delivered and the knowledge you learn. I met some amazing people in Berlin and had a great time listening to a wide range of papers.
Firstly, the venue for the conference was probably one of the most picturesque I’ve been to. Set on the river, in this beautiful German museum, it was difficult not to feel lucky to be part of this community of academics speaking about art, culture and computers. (Weather wise day one was a little grey but the sun shone on day two!)
Secondly, the people I met were incredibly interesting and working on some amazing projects. It was really wonderful to meet with Moshe and Judith from Hadassah Academic College, with Jan from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, with Francesca from Ravensbourne: Learning Technologies Research Centre, and to meet up again with Elke from NTU. All these people made my time, both at the conference and afterwards, really worthwhile. Luckily, some of them will be at EVA, London in July. I’m therefore looking forward to briefly catching up again, in a few weeks time, with everyone. The sense of community at these computer/visual arts conferences distinguishes them from many of the other academic conferences I attend. This is probably because they are regular events and its seems that the participants attend each year and build their friendships and networks.
Also, it was good that there was a publication from the conference and – inevitably – good to see the paper I gave in print! That’s always a nice feeling in a digital world to hold a book with the words you thought and typed printed in it. It did also mean it was possible to read again through some of the papers presented and to take in, in detail, what was being said. Apparently, the book is also available on Amazon if anyone wishes to buy a copy. The full abstract for my paper can be found in this post.
Overall, this was a really friendly conference in which the spirit of collaboration and sharing was encouraged throughout. There was a lot of information covered on the theme of Augmented Reality in the two days of talks. This is certainly a growing area of interest for researchers, artists and cultural thinkers. I’m thinking how so many of our interactions are augmented in some way or other. Even without the need for intrusive hardware, there is, in my opinion a constant augmentation of our reality. Such that it is not so simple to define reality and ‘digital reality’ as these two things appear to have merged. As one might expect Google glass was mentioned a lot, as was Oculus Rift. I concluded that it’s always difficult, at the beginning of the development of any technology, to accurately predict how things will develop. This is why conferences like this – which bring together a diverse group of academics and artists to showcase their ideas and projects – are incredibly valuable. My next step is to take the thinking and ideas I was exposed two over those two days and develop a personal project to explore things further.