Speaking of THE VALLEY OF ELAH, what about the Uncanny Valley, hat “misrecognition” which makes us creeped out by CGI animated humans? The proliferation of CGI has always fascinated me both as a simulacratic nightmare waiting to happen and as emblematic of humanity’s death drive manifested in the Geeks of Hollywood (i.e. George Lucas) and their determination to “cross” the Uncanny Valley and thus liberate themselves from actually having to “talk” to real girl actors.
Films like THE POLAR EXPRESS, BEOWULF and FINAL FANTASY IV have tried different tricks to cross this uncanny valley, as have video games, and occasionally a gamer or graphic artist gets close (as in Max Kor’s elf below) but as of “now” at any rate, there is still a border between the simulacrum and the real, some innate border patrol of revulsion sends us running when we see a human avatar’s eyes. It all has to do with deep reptilian brain-stem stuff – programming so deep it goes back farther than even the most gifted programmers can reach… yet.
BUT, the scary thing is–in the parlance of the Terminator films–the CGI-frenzied Hollywood “will not… stop” trying to cross this valley, or trying to “pass” fake humans for real ones on their intended audience. So there will be more, much more of that creepy feeling of “recognition of the repressed” which is the “uncanny” part of the valley. But they… will… not… stop! They’re as sure this is the future of film as Doctors Moreau and Frankenstein were sure about their monsters, or how Bush was about Iraq, or Pandora was about their being cash in that box.
With that grim fact in mind and the immanent arrival of TERMINATOR: SALVATION on the horizon (May 09), it’s worth sharing this panic attack-inducing dread I had last night:
It’s inevitable that the uncanny valley will be crossed. And god help us all… in the future (Criswell, p. 23).
(To continue reading this article click here)