Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Visualizing Cyber [ ]

The chapter about cinematic representation of cyber space made me recount the movies/TV shows I've encountered in my lifetime (so far). I'm fortunate to have been growing up and now living in an era where internet is undergoing the most radical changes and developments. There's a newer, more updated version of IE browser every other time you turn away, definitely faster than the opening of new subway lines in Shanghai.

There have been numerous film depiction of the virtual universe, enabled by the invisible wires linking our computers, which are considered emotionless, pure intelligence.

in 1985 the first commercial domain name was registered on the internet.

here's some fun facts: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Domain+name

"On 15 March 1985, the first commercial Internet domain name (.com) was registered under the

name Symbolics.com by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

By 1992 fewer than 15,000 dot.com domains were registered.

In December 2009 there were 192 million domain names.[9] A big fraction of them are in the .com

TLD, which as of March 15, 2010 had 84 million domain names, including 11.9 million online

business and e-commerce sites, 4.3 million entertainment sites, 3.1 million finance related sites,

and 1.8 million sports sites.[10]"

And now, if we see what's happening around that time in the internet world, we can see the background of the corresponding entertainment world.


"1985: The National Science Foundation (NSF) takes over administration of the network from ARPA.

NSF links its 6 SuperComputer Centers and establishes Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) limiting

use of NSFnet to research and education only. The number of hosts connecting has almost

reached 2,000. A hose is a computer system with registered ip address."

One of the earliest Sci-fi movie I've seen, Weird Science (Dir. John Hughes), had a lot to do with using virtual/digital to create idealized beauty. I firmly believe that in movies of each era we can see the fantasies of the people living then, most of the time they prove to be achievable to generations to come.

Computer was then considered the source of (virtual) life of the late 20th century, as Weird Science was inspired by Frankenstein, the story of creating perfection using science.

And then there's Hackers, anther early films I encountered about young people exploring the possibilities created by the advances in computer technology and specifically, internet.

Hackers (Dir. Iain Softley, starring Angelina Jolie & Jonny Lee Miller) was made in 1995. I remember that was a time when hacking and viruses were quite popular amongst those who considered themselves smarter than the rest of us. The story reveals to us the double sided blade named internet and what damages/good it can do to us as a society.

in 1995 Apple company allowed other companies to clone their computers, thus the explosion of personal exploration of technology, the speed of which increased exponentially. Individuals' quest over conquering an uncharted land called cyberspace...those hackers are non less than pioneers, breaking through the barriers of impossible accesses and creating connections.

I'm not saying what they do in the mean time was right, but they definitely contributed to the development of said technology and fields. By the end of the film, our hero started working FOR the government instead of against it.

the "hacking" happened in both the 1995 and 1985 film, both depicted as a colourful path breaking through fire walls protecting government agencies and institutions like banks, etc. The visualization of the travelling paths in cyber space has always been portrayed as a colourful maze, which fascinates me because nobody really knows in the dimension of the unseen, how do the information travel...I guess the remediation of travelling through space happens here.

The BBC's Doctor Who, Cyberman has been a classical sci-fi creation characterized by pure intelligence and emotionlessness. The sci-fi series serves, at least for me, a great metaphor of travelling through virtual space (although I'm sure that wasn't the creators' initial intention). The Doctor's Tardis travels instantaneously through time and space, going through paths beyond the dimension of what is considered humanly possible. How can you travel so easily through time and space but through internet? Although the notion of cyber space seldom appear and was rarely the topic of the show, I see it as a physical representation of how people visualize cyberspace.

Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, the two parts special, depicted a little girl who was turned into a super computer. She created a virtual world for herself and people around her, recreating everything she was familiar with when she was alive. Those visual elements and reality created by digitalized information and memories, reminds of how cyberspace works.

Also, in the opening scene, we see a group of archaeologists investigating the history of a place in 100% what we know as virtual reality. I wonder if that'd be the future of the subject, if we can reposition ourselves anywhere via the help of internet.

Of course the most famous depiction of cyber space should be Matrix,

The 1999-2003 movie was made around the turn of the century as internet is in its full blown developmental stage. Anything seemed possible and it scares us to see the power of the machine, and what a single capsule can do. Virtual reality and cyber space has never been so complicated and glorified.

Around the same time there was also S1m0ne (2002 Dir. Andrew Niccol). It's a story about a digital actress who replaced real human and became a huge success. Sounds familiar? Another story of frankenstein and using virtual reality, computer technology to create perfection. Playing God became never easier.

I do believe that the visualization of what we do with cyber space and internet will always be a major subject in film industry as long as computer technology keeps developing, which I believe will be for a long time. The imagination has been wild but the intentions remain little changed. We want to make a perfect world, with perfect people in it and perfect services from all around. We also want to travel through time and space instantaneously, which we can only do virtually through internet at the moment...but what I do believe, is that, through the virtual reality (which will become more and more realistic as an experience), human will be able to achieve instant transportation and time travellings, and, of course, creations of perfect fake human beings, and all those wonderful things in fantasy films about the wizards and superpowers.

No comments:

Post a Comment