Not currently on display at the V&A

Hyper-Reality

2016
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Hyper-Reality (2016) by Japanese British Keiichi Matsuda is a six-minute concept film that confronts issues surrounding the ubiquitous adoption of augmented reality, biometric and transhumanist technologies into everyday life. The film also comments on the role of platforms such as Kickstarter in creating new revenue streams for designers, as the film was crowdfunded through contributions from ‘backers’, rather than through traditional film investment means.

Keiichi Matsuda (b. 1984) is a filmmaker who holds an independent studio practice in which he ‘critically explores the future of everyday life’ (from Matsuda’s website), often addressing the dissolving boundaries between the virtual and the physical. Matsuda has previously held roles such as VP Design at Leap Motion, and as Mixed Reality lead at Microsoft. Matsuda gained his Masters of Architecture from the Bartlett (UK).

Hyper-Reality presents ‘a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media.’ (Hyper-Reality website). Matsuda created the film in order to explore the tensions between internet of things, augmented reality, wearables and virtual reality (VR), arising from contemporary technological anxieties, for example, concerns around reductions in privacy from state and corporate actors, demands on our attention from emerging technologies, and the gamification of our personal data by and for corporate entities, often for little personal benefit. The film also aims to show how capitalism and technology have changed the way we see and experience the spaces around us, and are influenced by devices and our interactions with them in how we shop, behave and navigate these spaces.

Shot entirely on location in Medellín, Colombia, the viewer follows a South American woman, 42-year-old Juliana Restrepo, who has an augmented reality device implanted in her body, as she navigates her way around the city. The technology interface through which she sees the city is the films only viewpoint. The gamification of her daily life, the layers of technology placed upon every aspect of the city are all detailed as she makes her way from a bus to a grocery store, where the interface starts to glitch and break down as her implant is hacked. The protagonist’s social status, social life and other important data linked to the interface are suddenly corrupted. The audience glimpses for a brief moment how the city has been designed for a computer eye view, with rows of black and white augmented reality fiducial markers (visual markers that enable machine vision systems to place themselves within an environment) placed in supermarket aisles – unreadable to humans, solely for the benefit of machine vision. Without the interface, the world is rendered useless as it is suggested that most of society is not designed to accommodate the needs of this technology, so the protagonist is guided through an emergency system to gain assistance. However, she is intercepted and attacked by a disguised figure who resets her entire system, removing all traces of her previous life, an ambiguous ending that can be interpreted as either relieving her of the burden of her data saturated life or stealing it from her.

Hyper-Reality is a work of ‘research-by-design' by Matsuda, following previous work such as Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop (2010), Augmented City 3D (2010) and Keiichi’s Master’s thesis project Domesti/city (2010). In an interview with Jason Sayor for The Architect’s Newspaper, Matsuda explained the use of a film to explore the tensions present in these technologies: ‘I want to use the film as a platform for debate to anyone who is worried about where technology might be taking us. By creating more visions, and talking about them publicly, I believe that it’s possible to influence the people who are involved in developing these technologies in the first place.’ (AN, June 1, 2016).

The film was shot using a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, chosen by Matsuda as it is light, discreet, and would not attract too much attention on the streets of Medellín when filming. In order to get the point-of-view shots, Matsuda created a custom-made head-mounted 3-D printed camera rig for two GoPros, in collaboration with product designer Grant Fraser from Luma ID, to film in stereoscopic 3D, as no such rig existed (he later went on to release the designs for these to the public on Shapeways, open source). These were made in three different sizes for shooting various types of scene (stereo bases of 55, 70, and 140mm). The interfaces and graphic world of Hyper-Reality were created using softwares After Effects, Mocha, PFTrack, and Cinema 4D. Originally Matsuda wanted to make the film in 3D, but he could not make it work for the project. (Motionographer interview, August 15, 2016).

Hyper-Reality was funded through crowdfunding on Kickstarter, a platform founded by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler in 2009. It aims to let creators fund their own projects through the support of ‘backers’, the online community made up of members of the public who sign up for rewards (such as the item being crowdfunded) depending on the level of support they pledge if the project campaign is successful. If the total goal for funds is raised in the allocated time, then the supporters’ funds are claimed. Kickstarter provides an alternate to investment or venture capital (VC) funding, allowing for projects that may not gain access to often-privileged arenas to gain capital to fund and realise their projects. However, the risks of crowdfunding are high, as Kickstarter projects often fail, or are never completed, and backers are left without rewards. In a 2015 study conducted by University of Pennsylvania for Kickstarter, 1-in-10 projects failed, and 13% of backers received a refund from a project.

The project raised £29,386, 118% of their original goal of £25,000, with 188 backers. Matsuda also contributed towards some of the production costs for the film. Matsuda regularly updated his backers through his backer’s diary, through videos and blog entries. This not only generated interest and potential backers to the project, but posted updates on the filming of the project, creating a record of activity prior to creation. Keiichi also shared prototypes for designs he created while filming Hyper-Reality, such as a custom 3D printed rig for his camera, that was downloadable for all readers.

Hyper-Reality joins the museum’s collection as an exploration of the exploded tensions between the body and computation, and as an example of designers using other methods such as film to show the impact that design can have in society. It also stands as an example of anxieties around computationally mediated urban spaces, particularly at a time when spaces are designed more and more for technological mediation. This project also serves as an example of a different economic model of production for designers such as crowdfunding and fan-funding that step outside of traditional methods, showing other routes through which design reaches consumers.

Hyper-Reality sits alongside the Google Glass (CD.57:1 to 3-2014) as an example of the historical impact of augmented reality. As an example of the growing impact of Kickstarter and its economic impact on the field of design, it joins projects such as the Oculus Rift (CD.49:1 to 20-2014), the Zano Mini Drone (CD.8-2016), the Guppyfriend Bag (CD.9-2020) and IRL specs (CD.30-2019).

read Digital art & design dictionary The V&A has a long history of engaging with contemporary modes of creative production. Since its foundation in 1852, the museum has been actively collecting the latest examples of art, design and manufacturing to showcase not only the newest creative thinking, but also the cutting-edge tec...
read A history of digital design: Part 2 – Expanding worlds Vast in scope – referring to both design processes and products for which digital technology is an essential element – broad in geography and highly complex, digital design has proved hard to define since its first beginnings in the 1960s.
Object details
Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Digital Design, VFX
Brief description
Hyper-Reality (2016), a digital film on the future of augmented reality and the city by designer Keiichi Matsuda.
Dimensions
    Credit line
    Given by Keiichi Matsuda
    Summary
    Hyper-Reality (2016) by Japanese British Keiichi Matsuda is a six-minute concept film that confronts issues surrounding the ubiquitous adoption of augmented reality, biometric and transhumanist technologies into everyday life. The film also comments on the role of platforms such as Kickstarter in creating new revenue streams for designers, as the film was crowdfunded through contributions from ‘backers’, rather than through traditional film investment means.



    Keiichi Matsuda (b. 1984) is a filmmaker who holds an independent studio practice in which he ‘critically explores the future of everyday life’ (from Matsuda’s website), often addressing the dissolving boundaries between the virtual and the physical. Matsuda has previously held roles such as VP Design at Leap Motion, and as Mixed Reality lead at Microsoft. Matsuda gained his Masters of Architecture from the Bartlett (UK).



    Hyper-Reality presents ‘a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media.’ (Hyper-Reality website). Matsuda created the film in order to explore the tensions between internet of things, augmented reality, wearables and virtual reality (VR), arising from contemporary technological anxieties, for example, concerns around reductions in privacy from state and corporate actors, demands on our attention from emerging technologies, and the gamification of our personal data by and for corporate entities, often for little personal benefit. The film also aims to show how capitalism and technology have changed the way we see and experience the spaces around us, and are influenced by devices and our interactions with them in how we shop, behave and navigate these spaces.



    Shot entirely on location in Medellín, Colombia, the viewer follows a South American woman, 42-year-old Juliana Restrepo, who has an augmented reality device implanted in her body, as she navigates her way around the city. The technology interface through which she sees the city is the films only viewpoint. The gamification of her daily life, the layers of technology placed upon every aspect of the city are all detailed as she makes her way from a bus to a grocery store, where the interface starts to glitch and break down as her implant is hacked. The protagonist’s social status, social life and other important data linked to the interface are suddenly corrupted. The audience glimpses for a brief moment how the city has been designed for a computer eye view, with rows of black and white augmented reality fiducial markers (visual markers that enable machine vision systems to place themselves within an environment) placed in supermarket aisles – unreadable to humans, solely for the benefit of machine vision. Without the interface, the world is rendered useless as it is suggested that most of society is not designed to accommodate the needs of this technology, so the protagonist is guided through an emergency system to gain assistance. However, she is intercepted and attacked by a disguised figure who resets her entire system, removing all traces of her previous life, an ambiguous ending that can be interpreted as either relieving her of the burden of her data saturated life or stealing it from her.



    Hyper-Reality is a work of ‘research-by-design' by Matsuda, following previous work such as Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop (2010), Augmented City 3D (2010) and Keiichi’s Master’s thesis project Domesti/city (2010). In an interview with Jason Sayor for The Architect’s Newspaper, Matsuda explained the use of a film to explore the tensions present in these technologies: ‘I want to use the film as a platform for debate to anyone who is worried about where technology might be taking us. By creating more visions, and talking about them publicly, I believe that it’s possible to influence the people who are involved in developing these technologies in the first place.’ (AN, June 1, 2016).



    The film was shot using a GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, chosen by Matsuda as it is light, discreet, and would not attract too much attention on the streets of Medellín when filming. In order to get the point-of-view shots, Matsuda created a custom-made head-mounted 3-D printed camera rig for two GoPros, in collaboration with product designer Grant Fraser from Luma ID, to film in stereoscopic 3D, as no such rig existed (he later went on to release the designs for these to the public on Shapeways, open source). These were made in three different sizes for shooting various types of scene (stereo bases of 55, 70, and 140mm). The interfaces and graphic world of Hyper-Reality were created using softwares After Effects, Mocha, PFTrack, and Cinema 4D. Originally Matsuda wanted to make the film in 3D, but he could not make it work for the project. (Motionographer interview, August 15, 2016).



    Hyper-Reality was funded through crowdfunding on Kickstarter, a platform founded by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler in 2009. It aims to let creators fund their own projects through the support of ‘backers’, the online community made up of members of the public who sign up for rewards (such as the item being crowdfunded) depending on the level of support they pledge if the project campaign is successful. If the total goal for funds is raised in the allocated time, then the supporters’ funds are claimed. Kickstarter provides an alternate to investment or venture capital (VC) funding, allowing for projects that may not gain access to often-privileged arenas to gain capital to fund and realise their projects. However, the risks of crowdfunding are high, as Kickstarter projects often fail, or are never completed, and backers are left without rewards. In a 2015 study conducted by University of Pennsylvania for Kickstarter, 1-in-10 projects failed, and 13% of backers received a refund from a project.



    The project raised £29,386, 118% of their original goal of £25,000, with 188 backers. Matsuda also contributed towards some of the production costs for the film. Matsuda regularly updated his backers through his backer’s diary, through videos and blog entries. This not only generated interest and potential backers to the project, but posted updates on the filming of the project, creating a record of activity prior to creation. Keiichi also shared prototypes for designs he created while filming Hyper-Reality, such as a custom 3D printed rig for his camera, that was downloadable for all readers.



    Hyper-Reality joins the museum’s collection as an exploration of the exploded tensions between the body and computation, and as an example of designers using other methods such as film to show the impact that design can have in society. It also stands as an example of anxieties around computationally mediated urban spaces, particularly at a time when spaces are designed more and more for technological mediation. This project also serves as an example of a different economic model of production for designers such as crowdfunding and fan-funding that step outside of traditional methods, showing other routes through which design reaches consumers.



    Hyper-Reality sits alongside the Google Glass (CD.57:1 to 3-2014) as an example of the historical impact of augmented reality. As an example of the growing impact of Kickstarter and its economic impact on the field of design, it joins projects such as the Oculus Rift (CD.49:1 to 20-2014), the Zano Mini Drone (CD.8-2016), the Guppyfriend Bag (CD.9-2020) and IRL specs (CD.30-2019).



    Collection
    Accession number
    CD.58-2021

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    Record createdApril 27, 2021
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