10 February 2017: “San Junipero”

Topic Name: Black Mirror
Bio: Black Mirror is a television series that documents the [more often than not] dark side of future technology as cautionary tales.
Name of Artwork: “San Junipero”
Date of Artwork: October 2016
Describe Artwork: “San Junipero” is an episode of Black Mirror that explores the idea of uploading consciousness into a computer that creates the virtual reality city of San Junipero, where the two main protagonists Yorkie and Kelly grapple with love and their mortality.
Opinion of Artwork, Article or Topic:
“San Junipero” is more reminiscent of “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” and “Ready Player One” than current trajectories in VR. That may be because of the concept of isolating consciousness and the ability to upload it (and thus elicit the corresponding physical responses and feeling that the virtual space is “real”) than what we have now, which is really only the crude ability to influence and incite feelings and physical reactions by taking advantage of proprioception in the physical space and the emotional message in the VR experience. Concepts though that peoples’ consciousnesses can exist forever in San Junipero (unless they decide to end it themselves) is also an interesting concept, beyond the purely physical concept of living in a virtual space. “San Junipero” doesn’t touch on the idea of forever in a virtual space but instead decide to grapple with the meaning of mortality and what that could mean for people who can’t make the decision to live forever. Kelly’s family died and did not get to choose to live forever, so should she be as lucky to choose that life for or herself or should she choose the “nothingness” that her family was consumed by? I think inherently this kind of virtual reality is more sustainable than that in “Ready Player One” or “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” because it doesn’t require all of the physical contraptions (the liquids and masks in “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” and all of the haptic consumer electronics) that require VR to be as immersive in those stories.
Links (to article or topics):
https://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/7322749/BlackMirror_EP1_san_junipero_1660r1.jpg (photo credit)

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