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Is virtual reality the death of us? Short film Uncanny Valley displays an eerie foreshadowing of VR’s dystopian future

May 31, 2016

(Photo:wikipedia)

Mix VR with dystopian aesthetics and an Ender’s Game twist. Good Bloody Television.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been the rave of the year for tech junkies worldwide. With the potential to revolutionize how we interact with software, machines, the digital world and each other, the technology has left us amazed by its seemingly endless potential to merge the real with the digital. VR has captured the minds and hearts of people of all kinds, and naturally, corporate big dogs are scrambling to secure a piece of the next-big-thing as quick as they possibly can.

 

With news such as Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus, the leading developers of those consumer VR headsets that look like goggles from your middle school laboratory, and products like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard enabling a VR experience through our measly mobile phones, we seem to be at the brink of yet another game-changing technological breakthrough. With the unexpected speed at which VR technology is being commercially made available, one superbly surreal short film has dared to play devil's advocate by catapulting the unabashed excitement over VR tech into the realms of dystopian anxiety.

Corporations scramble to commercialize VR/Picture: iamWire.com

 

Uncanny Valley, directed by Argentine Director Frederico Heller, is a visually stunning and thematically eerie short film that incorporates documentary style footage with stylish VR in-game video. In the near future(at least in the context of the film), VR has dropped the cumbersome headsets and replaced them with an all-immersive nose ring that transports users into a realer-than-real gaming plane. A variety of social misfits and sociopaths retreat to the virtual world in order to exercise their violent impulses in the realms of VR gaming while simply rejecting their existence within the physical world. VR quickly transforms from solace to schizophrenic reality as reality planes and VR tropes seem to collapse on each other until, like in the case of any good film, a twist unravels a dark underbelly of a supposed fantasy world.

The mobs of Uncanny Valley/Picture: deadline

 

The film, named after robotics professor Masahiro Mori’s description of the point at which something that looks close to real, but not quite, causes revulsion in observers rather than empathy (why wax museums freak us out and human-replica robots suck compared to Wall-E), portrays how rapid advancements of technology can be rather unnerving. Exemplified by how the advancements in artificial intelligence spawn fictional portrayals pitting Will Smith vs freakishly-polite-AIs, or how the dual-edged nature of bio-chemical researching triggers a Hollywood showdown of Will Smith vs angry-balding zombies of New York, the film medium has been at the forefront of allowing us to visualize the potential self-destructiveness of technology.

 

Masahiro Mori's Uncanny Valley theory/Picture: wikipedia

 

As the video implies (I won’t spoil it further, watch it below), though technology in and of itself does not directly spell the destruction of humanity, if it is to be utilized by the sociopathic, desperate, or perhaps the pathologically obsessed, it may be used to service real world tragedies where the ignorant but nonetheless dangerous unknowingly supply a deathly workforce(seriously, watch the clip). Following the line of District 9’s Hollywood emergence from a short film, Uncanny Valley may also be in the works to be developed into a feature length film by Independence Day: Resurgence scribe Carter Blanchard

 

VR is fast on track to be the medium of the decade, initially set to transform entertainment(video games, cinema, porn, the entire PACKAGE) and social media. Though some may dismiss skepticism as the folly of slow-adapters, the gripping visuals of Uncanny Valley beckons second-thinking from even the most avid zealots of CNET. Socio-psychological commentary aside, Uncanny Valley is a cinematically stunning reminder of how video killed and will continue to kill more than just the radio star. Though the film itself is yet to be available on VR, as far as the producers are concerned, given the circumstances, that’s a good thing.

Uncanny Valley Full-Video/Video: YouTube

 

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