May 29, 2013

Random Access Memories

"The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." (William Gibson)

You just can't afford it. Or maybe you can't see it.

South America's indigenous Aymara tribe have a spatially reversed relationship with time. The past is always a forward gesture because it's in front of us every day, we know what happened, we remember. The future is behind us because it cannot be known.

We map time with memories, but our storage devices fray and decay. Sometimes we get shot in the head unexpectedly. Is everything backed up?

If you died today, a new you will be you again tomorrow (thanks G-Corp). Decades of multi-generational wisdom syncs from a dark cloud, lessons re-learned without the burned tongue.

This is the vision of True Skin, a sci-fi short from Stephan Zlotescu that shows only one, only one, of our million possible tomorrows. Augmentation is a way of life, in Bangkok at least, and the aftermarket is quite healthy.

Like Gibson's Night City from Neuromancer (1984), we see "a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button." A first-person paralysis induced by Future Shock (1970), the psychological state of individuals (or societies) processing too much change in too short a period of time.

Gibson argued all societal change is brought about by technological change, and each step backward, in Aymara terms, triggers disorientation and disconnection. We fall down easily without sight to guide us, and naturals - those who don't, won't or can't afford to embrace augmentation - get pushed to the fringes. It becomes harder to know what "forward" really is.

Every time the world begins to love Daft Punk again and pop music inhabits Night City, they hide in plain sight on Sunset Boulevard. Hire Nile and Giorgio to feel a way back to the analog world, to real rhythm - no drum machines or pre-fab loops. Water droplets on a sound stage.

Digital Love (2001) was a first departure from the genre that still defines them. It's the beginning of their quest to become human through vintage synthesizers, Supertramp's Wurlitzer and suspended harmonies.

Here you can enjoy the two together, a clash between the quest to be as we are or something more, and make up your own story about what happens next. I edited the source material from True Skin to fit the song, you can see the original version here - which includes a narrative of the upcoming feature film plot.

What would you sacrifice for memory insurance? To regenerate a lost loved one; or save what still lies in front of us? And even if it's possible to augment everything, have we come too far to give up who we are?

(full screen version)

Original video source: True Skin
Audio: Daft Punk, Digital Love

More Butter Team video ish:
Enter the Void vs. Holy Other
Thrashin' vs. VEGA
Rad vs. Cut Copy

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