Goodbye Uncanny Valley
In the mid-1980s Max Headroom heralded a brave new digital world where CGI would take the place of, well, anything. (Ironically, that character and the world he inhabited were initially still created using analogue means). Fast forward thirty years and the digital revolution has been completed: computer generated environments and characters are indistinguishable from reality. (Although talking primates can be a give-away that you’re looking at CGI). The technology has crossed what was known as the Uncanny Valley.
In this superb video essay, British artist Alan Warburton charts and chronicles the evolution of CGI over the past few decades and gives us a sneak peek at what may be in store for the future of the technology. But this creative overview (Warburton situates the various CGI practices on an imaginary map) is much more than a tech-fest. Warburton is keenly aware of the interaction of technology and economy, of the intersections of art and entertainment, and of the power of technology to deconstruct itself. The myriad examples of contemporary visual artist working with CGI in particular is an utterly fascinating segment of this insightful video essay.