The body as prosthesis is alive and well in this thought experiment.
True Skin is a short film writer, directed and stared in by Stephan Zlotescu which depicts a world in which we’ve become colonised by technology. The plot has a tech-thriller edge to with, and captures a world that brings back memories of the cyberpunk worlds of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Pat Cadigan. The film’s official web site gives the following synopsis:
True Skin – A sci-fi short set in the not too distant future where augmentation is the way of life. For Kaye, still a natural, augmenting will help him keep pace in this now hyper-paced world. However, after acquiring an off-market prototype, Kaye quickly finds himself fighting not only for his own humanity, but something much larger.
I like the film – it’s short, snappy and gets to the point, something that seems to point to the short film as a pitch for something longer or as a proof of concept film.
It can be watched at the official site below or at the Vimeo link below (which is also downloadable):
There’s also more comments over at https://www.singularityweblog.com/true-skin-sci-fi-short-warner-bros-full-feature/
Release date: March 3, 2006
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Producer: John Baldecchi; Lucas Foster; Tony Mark; Pauline Chan; John Giwa-Amu
Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Milla Jovovich
Production company: Ultravi Productions
Running time: 87 minutes
In short, this film is a mess. It has the potential to be something interesting with the biotechnological spin on lycanthropy or vampirism, but the way the film has been plotted and cut together doesn’t work at all. Apparently, there’s a longer cut out there that has about 30 mins more than the theatrical/DVD version (and a slightly extended Blu-ray version in Japan), which has more background narrative that gives context to the wider story but that isn’t here. It feels like an endless series of Gun Fu (or Gun Kata).
So, transhumanist elements around biological ‘enhancement’ of the human species, but not really a thought-provoking example of it. The kind of film that makes sense at 30,000ft on a long-haul flight in the middle of the night.
- IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0370032/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_(film)
- Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10004504-ultraviolet/
- Amazon: “Ultraviolet” (Amazon Video); “Ultraviolet” (Blu-ray); “Ultraviolet (Unrated, Extended Cut)” (DVD)
- iTunes (NZ): https://itunes.apple.com/nz/movie/ultraviolet/id284259497
- Mighty Ape (NZ): https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Ultraviolet-Blu-ray/1540726?r=1631939
Title: The Machine
Release date: April 20, 2013
Director: Caradog W. James
Producer: John Giwa-Amu
Writer: Caradog W. James
Starring: Caity Lotz; Sam Hazeldine; Toby Stephens; Pooneh Hajimohammadi; Denis Lawson
Production company: Red & Black Films
Running time: 91 minutes
The Machine is a relatively low budget film set in a near future where the UK is locked in a cold war with China. The film is set primarily in a secret research institutions developing prosthetics, robotics, and artificial intelligence in order to create a ‘super soldier’. In achieving artificial consciousness, presented in the artificial life form referred to as ‘the machine,’ the film draws upon a number of transhumanist themes. This include the idea of the singularity, notions of information patterns being the essence of human identity, and replication through simulation of the human brain as a place to locate a copy of those information.
The movie is a good example of Katherine Hayles four features of post- or transhumanism (Hayles: 1999: 2-3):
- A privilege given to information over material reality, with the implication that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as transient accident of history rather than an inevitability of life;
- Consciousness is seen as an epiphenomenon, or side effect, of human existence rather than the seat of human identity;
- The view that the body is merely a prosthesis that we learn to manipulate, and that should we choose, we could extend or replace it with other suitable prostheses;
- This extension or replacement will be, in part, achieved by the seamless melding of human and intelligent machines
The Machine doesn’t have some of the big budget effects of larger Hollywood productions but does a good job of exploring these ideas using the a minimalist and dark environment. The film ends with the sense that humanity’s time will now be drawing to a close – at least in material form – something which is left hanging as to whether that might be for the best.
- N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 2-3.
- Official website: http://themachinemovie.com/
- IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2317225/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_(film)
- Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_machine_2013/
- Amazon: “The Machine” (DVD); “The Machine” (Blu-ray); “The Machine” (Amazon Video)
- Mighty Ape (NZ): https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/The-Machine-DVD/22290190?r=1631939
- iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-machine/id835545065