Exploring the Rhetorical Affordances of Augmented Reality in the Context of the Anthropocene

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Immersive Learning Research Network Conference




San Luis Obispo, CA

Publication Date



Immersive technology is increasingly recognized for its rhetoric potentials. Similar to traditional genres such as text and image, immersive technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) is also context dependent and can be used to conduct persuasive ends, based on the advantages of their input/output affordances. AR provides new opportunities to represent human-nonhuman relationship rhetorically, which is central to the concept of the Anthropocene. In this study, we reviewed 14 AR applications that are designed for the understanding of the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch where human influence is the driving force. Our purpose is to understand what affordances of AR can help to create the rhetoric for the Anthropocene. We identified three major rhetorical affordances of AR in conveying the message of the Anthropocene: virtual objects, point of view, and the input-output link. We argue that the design of these applications can generate a local and personalized understanding of the Anthropocene. Such design is also a part of the posthuman endeavor as they can be used as a reflective tool of anthropocentric perceptions supported by the development of technology. We also discuss how AR differs from Virtual Reality (VR) when serving the rhetorical ends. The rhetoric effects can be implicit in AR, but it adds to the layers of meaning when we try to understand the make meaning-processes of AR.

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