Month: March 2007

Twirl around Tokyo

Okay, in the second instance of link-fu on this blog, I present you with one of the coolest doo-hickeys I’ve seen in a while.

The Tokyo VR Project

This is like something out of an 80’s sci-fi cyberpunk novel. Which is of course awesome.

I think what’s neat here is that in some instances, you do actually have the impression of traveling. Hot-spot clickable areas mean you can enter buildings. It’s by no means seamless yet, but I just spent a few minutes ‘wandering’ upstairs and through a neat little coffee-shop. Take your own wander…

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Baudrillard Ruins Everything

(I’m not very good at this blogging thing. Communication happened faster than this back when Greeks were still running everywhere with their messages.)

First, he says that the “the real no longer exists”. Well, that sort of takes the thrill out of life, it not existing, doesn’t it? To be fair, he had a tendency to make strong statements first, and explain later. It’s what makes him adorable and quoteable. In this case, he was discussing that our perception of ‘real’ was seriously skewed based on the amount of mediated (controlled) images that we see of that reality.

(As an example: Though nobody is controlling my experience of my apartment, there are numerous groups all attempting to control or affect my experience of the war in Iraq. Based on this, that war simply is not occurring, at least in terms of the war I’ve observed. All I’ve seen have been mutated snippets and slivers of the real.)

Jean Baudrillard considered the world we live in to be so mediated with signs and symbols over top of the real that this new sort of existence was ‘hyperreal’, a place where this mediated existence covered the ‘real’ life. Because it appears to be real it appears unchangeable, meaning that melancholy and apathy reign. People realize they’re living in a less than ideal situation, but feel that they can take no steps to change it.

It gets a bit technical. So hopefully I’ve explained this properly enough to move along. But that last paragraph could describe the setting of the Matrix films, couldn’t it?

I was reading the obituary of this blogs titular philosopher, and it quotes an interview he had given after the first Matrix movie, when they had asked him to contribute on the sequels. (They paid him homage a couple of times in the first one…) His response was:

“The most embarrassing part of the film is that the new problem posed by simulation is confused with its classical, Platonic treatment … The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce.”

Damn it, Jean. I can’t refute that. I was a fan of the entire trilogy, thinking that it was a great vehicle for metaphor, allowing people using Baudrillardian concepts to make easier analogies, and actually affect some people’s thinking. But he’s right. By creating a science-fictional overlay on top of the ‘world we live in’ and consigning any true rebellion as happening outside of the ‘normal world’ it simply becomes a vehicle for escapism with just enough hooks to fool hopeful dreamers like me. It reassures that the world we live in today is unchangeable, that it needs to be fixed from ‘outside the system,’ reprogrammed, reset. I never really thought it would be that simple, but Jean’s offhand condemnation now means that these movies have become a bit more escapism, a little less idea-affecting.

Jean, I’m sorry you’ve passed on. (Or at the very least, become less real.)

I even forgive you for ruining my movies for me.

(A wikipedia article about Jean)