Magritte in the age of Augmented Reality

Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. – Rene Magritte

I can’t shake this thought. Magritte’s paintings show a world that is undone. Images overlap and obscure other images. Loaded objects are pulled from obscurity and placed into a familiar scene.

In an episode of Black Mirror  people tune each other out when they don’t want to talk. The person is still visually there, but their speech is washed out and they appear grainy and unwanted.


Augmented Reality (AR) seems loaded. Like there’s an insidiousness within it that I can’t help but foresee. Dangerous potential lurks in projecting the coveted, desired, and wanted over the unwanted, unfortunate, unwashed, and unseen.

AR by definition edits out things.

How do we decide what cannot be edited out? How do we force people to confront truths as more and more technology exists to obscure it?

In order to see what we add, we must hide what was there before.

Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.