Augmented reality is when, as the term suggests, reality as we know it is augmented digitally through a live, direct or indirect view of a real-world environment (as opposed to virtual reality, which completely creates an environment). It sounds complicated and it is, but if you want to get really, really basic about it, think about watching any sporting event on TV, or a news broadcast. The scores and ticker on-screen updating you on other games and events, that’s a form of augmented reality.
Some people point to Pokemon GOas AR, while some others will tell you that’s more of a location-based situation. Apps that can show you how glasses or different-colored clothing will look on you, or that show you the walls of your living room painted different shades, that’s AR. It’s a field that’s only gained widespread commercial usefulness in this decade but already it is one of the fastest growing sectors of technology out there. This time five years from now, AR will probably be so ubiquitous we won’t even think of it as a marvel anymore, it will be just one more innovation we view as commonplace, like the computers we carry in our pockets.
The perils of that sort of technological pervasiveness, specifically in regards to AR, are ideas at the heart of Ross Peacock’s Augmented, and unlike other sci-fi shorts we’ve brought you, it isn’t reliant upon visual effects for its impact. Rather, it is sci-fi of the intellectual sort, a kind of verbal chess match, or the equivalent of being talked through the solution to a complex equation, that sort of cerebral and conceptual piece in a vein closer to the work of Shane Carruth than George Lucas.
A new technology, a new set of implications, exploitation for capital gain, and the inherent power struggles of the latter — these are the only narrative elements you need to know going in, because most of the joy that comes from the film is in how it reveals itself, the pace at which it unfurls its narrative, and how it manipulates your expectations. Fans of Black Mirror, form an orderly queue.
Augmented was written by Peacock and Ben Shillito, shot by Pierre Sheard, and features music by Andrea Possee. Sabine Crossen, Brett Fancy, and Camilla Roholm star.