Uncanny Valley

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

This post by Caroline Hagood at Culture Sandwich

left me with a very uneasy feeling, about how we view ‘the body’ in this post-modern world, how we view and make pornography, and whether or not we are ‘human’ at all…

Everywhere you look the body is being investigated and exposed by technology. On the heels of the outcry over TSA’s x-ray scanners comes the Google Body Browser, which  lets you use your computer to journey to the center of the human form.

When you follow this link, you will find yourself in a cyber-anatomical world that is very strange, indeed. You will see a woman standing with her arms at her side, wearing a sports bra and shorts. In this Hannibal Lecter brand of burlesque, your task, if you choose to accept it, is to strip her not of her clothes, but of her skin. You can also make her swivel so as to see her from your angle of choice as you peel away her different layers. The whole thing strikes me as scientifically important, if a bit socially odd.

The Body Browser sequence also reminds me of another recent cyberland sensation–the demo of Microsoft Kinect’s first sex game. Kinect allows people to play video games without a controller and was recently hacked in order to add a sexual element. I guess it was only a matter of time before this system that allows you to caress the virtual was used for carnal purposes. In the demo, the viewer moves his real hand in order to mobilize a corresponding onscreen hand that would be hilarious if it weren’t so creepy.

Why am I not surprised that with Microsoft Kinect and Google Body Browser when the body is being fondled or stripped of skin or clothes it’s female, and when the body is doing the stripping and fondling it’s male? Also, let me just note that when the human figure is systematically stroked or anatomized, there is something glaringly un-hot about it.

Take a look and tell me if this Kinect foray into the uncanny valley isn’t about as sexy as the Body Browser.

  1. It is indeed interesting to see how technology is changing the way in which we percieve ourselves as human beings, eating away at the Abrahamic idea of our special place in creation. However, the way in which the bodies being explored in both the Google Body Browser and Kinect are female, whilst the “explorer” remains male might suggest that at least one element of that Abrahamic legacy still continues – the patriarchial bit.

    Also, let me just note that when the human figure is systematically stroked or anatomized, there is something glaringly un-hot about it.

    Personally I’d have to agree with this… however, if I step into the role of postmodernist advocatus diaboli for a moment, it might just be that you and I haven’t quite grasped the erotic possibilities of 3d animation due to a lack of childhood and adolescent fantasizing over characters such as Teela or Evil-Lyn from He Man and the Masters of the Universe – if we had done, then we too might have developed the paraphilias necessary to truly appreciate the Kinect offering. Then again…

  2. Interesting observations, One Man.

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