Yeah, tho I shall wander through the uncanny valley...
August 13, 2004 6:11 PM   Subscribe

When did we jump to the other side of the "uncanny valley"?
posted by LairBob (59 comments total)
I presume most people here are familiar with Masahiro Mori's idea of the "uncanny valley". For the most part, though, the idea has been that as representations of reality move from "robotic" to closer to the "real thing", there's a real disturbing area where they're so close, but not quite there, that we intuitively reject them as creepy simulacra.

I think there's been a real change, though, where all of a sudden the stuff on the "real-world" side of the curve seems less impressive, and the stuff that's "really good algorithmic behavior" is much more acceptable.

For one thing, there's clearly been an advance in "toeing the line" from the algorithmic side, where CGI specialists introduce random variations into their animations to make them realistic--much of the magic in Pixar movies, or the armies of LOTR is in the subtle variations between each actor, so it's not a robotic army onscreen, but a field of individuals. (Ironically, the new Star Wars movies have done a great job of exploiting this similarity, when the robot armies roll out in perfect unison--it's eerie, and probably also a lot easier to program.)

Here's my real problem, though--I was just watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, where the big "Cycladic head" statue spins apart into pieces, and while the effect was cool, in concept, the fact that the pieces were clearly just hanging and swinging from wires struck me as cheesy. But that's totally messed up. Not only was it the only practical way to do it, but it's actually really authentic. Not only is it mechanically "real-world", but there's no way the ancient Greeks did anything different, without a lot of bob and sway. Their theater was full of mechanical effects like that. (Case in point, "deux ex machina, which was some guy on a hand-operated cherry-picker, praying the stagehands didn't drop him 30 feet onto the stage).

(I presume I'm not alone in this reaction--I'm not necessarily be proud of it, but come on...if you saw it, you totally know what I'm talking about.)

Here's my question, then: where have we gotten to, in our modern ideas of perfection, that sheer reality seems inauthentic, or insufficient? It seems like in the past 20 years or so, we've totally jumped to the other side of the uncanny valley, where we can accept "robotic" side of the model, with a little randomness thrown in, but when you jump to the "real" side, it just looks dated? Is that messed up, or what?
posted by LairBob at 6:12 PM on August 13, 2004

Maybe it's generational (and i'm on the wrong side)? I'm very skeeved by that girlfriend thing, and find completely digitally-rendered "people" creepy, and not at all "real" in any sort of empathy-inducing or likable way. I liked the Shrek movies, but it takes me quite a while each time to stop noticing the "wrongness" of it all. And it's a very basic "wrongness" and repulsion even, that holds true for every instance i can think of. (And it's funny, but a cheesy thing done with wires or old-time robotic/puppet special effects in movies like in Total Recall, are fine (where you know it's mostly a mechanical thing) but maybe they skeeve people who are older?)
posted by amberglow at 6:24 PM on August 13, 2004

it's an idea with more implications than just robotics ... from a blog entry i wrote


"sick as a writer writing to be lighter than the uncanny" ... are we family? ... tragically hip

kathy jo and i were kicking this around on the newsgroup last night and she mentioned the a.i./robotics concept of the uncanny valley ... people are confortable with robots that aren't a thing like people ... or robots that are a little like people ... and even fairly close ... but when you approach the point of almost like ... people get uncomfortable ... their opinion of the robots slide off into disapproval ... because robots that close are "uncanny"

and she mentioned it's the same thing with internet personae ... if someone's posting as L0R4 B3AZT 666, LOL, not too many people are going to take that seriously or feel threatened by it ... but a few of us reach a point where we're trying to express the emotional truth of who we are and how we feel ... and suddenly ... we're crazy, or self-absorbed or narcissistic


and this is how outcasts are made ... people who, for whatever reason, just quite can't 100% conform or get all the details right for this facade people call normality ... like me ... having what i suspect is a good case of asperger's syndrome, a form of high functioning autism ... my brain wasn't quite wired to pick up the social signals and customs ... open mouth, insert foot ... all the time ...

and so i was "weird" ... "brainiac" ... or the word that kj's come up with, "uncanny" ... which i really like because it has the meaning of being different while acknowledging the possibility of special abilities ... or a supernatural connection

the tribe of the uncanny ... some of us have mental differences that make us so ... or emotional/mental problems ... or backgrounds that screw us up ... and we don't fit in ... give into real anger and rebellion ... medicate ourselves to the point of addiction ... or hook up with others of our tribe who have done these things ... and we get even more uncanny ... some of us break, some of us break free

i'm not breaking

i'm trying to become thoroughly comfortable with my uncanniness ... accept it ... and learning to be someone who can be with another uncanny person who is confortable with it without falling into the traps our tribe falls into
posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 PM on August 13, 2004

but you're still a real person, pyramid, so it's different, no? We have such a different range of experience dealing with other real people, and can draw on them in our interactions, and are socialized toward certain responses and all that stuff. It's different when dealing with something that looks like a person but isn't. (I'm also reminded of those creepy fortuneteller automatons that they used to have--designed to freak people out.)
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on August 13, 2004

amberglow ... one of the main methods of oppressing others or declaring others as our enemies is to see them as less than human ... nazi germany and the kkk would be two extreme examples of this ... there are many others
posted by pyramid termite at 6:32 PM on August 13, 2004

This is very interesting stuff, thanks for the post.
One wonders, conversely, why Apple's iSight is strangely nice and comforting to look at, despite it's INCREDIBLE SIMILARITY TO, um.... (whispers, "hal")
posted by Peter H at 6:38 PM on August 13, 2004

That's a really intriguing take, pyramid...I've actually wrestled with that specific issue a lot, and I think this concept has a lot to do with it. In many ways, society used to be a lot more accepting of people who deviated from the norm "realistically", like the ways you've described. Now, between plastic surgery, over-medication, and all the rest, it's like we've come to accept an industrial, machine-like version of perfection, and while your teeth or your attitude can have slight, random variations, you're not allowed to differ "in kind" from the accepted norm.

I don't at all, clearly, think this is better--this whole issue was spun from watching the opening ceremonies and thinking "That was cheesy...wait...why the hell did I just think that?", but I think you're right in spinning out into a larger plane.
posted by LairBob at 6:39 PM on August 13, 2004

Painting people as less than human is not as effective as it used to be--when you live in a diverse place/country/neighborhood and have access to more media/diverse cultures, and have actually met the group in question.

I disagree that there's less room for individuality and difference, or less tolerance of it. I realize, of course, that it's a local thing tho.
posted by amberglow at 6:41 PM on August 13, 2004

...a roboticist who developed a realistic robotic copy of his girlfriend's head...

posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:54 PM on August 13, 2004

The "uncanny valley" is the reason I'm not a big fan of modern 3D games, I think. In the old cartoonish platform games, the characters were cute, even if they were only 16 pixels wide and in flourescent colours. Modern 3D games, however, despite all that amazing hardware, just look ghoulish to me.
posted by Jimbob at 7:04 PM on August 13, 2004

For me, I think it happened right after Small Wonder was taken off the air. I just could not stand that anthropomorphic robot-child
posted by destro at 7:33 PM on August 13, 2004

This is a very very bad post, I'm afraid, even if it is an interesting subject (and discussed before, a quick search will show). A single, repeated link to a Wikipedia entry, with some 'this is what interests me about this' padding? Perhaps you meant to post this to AskMe?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:47 PM on August 13, 2004

I guess I never made the jump. CG effects look too perfect to be real to me, while Harryhausen stop-motion looks just fine.
posted by Shane at 7:57 PM on August 13, 2004

posted by Space Coyote at 7:58 PM on August 13, 2004

posted by LairBob at 7:59 PM on August 13, 2004

"This is a very very bad post, I'm afraid..."—stav

But people find it interesting!

Slashdot is over thataway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:00 PM on August 13, 2004

So? I'm all for a good q&a about the uncanney valley, but yeah, I think this is a really crummy MeFi post. It's not in the spirit of MeFi, no matter how a vocal few may feel about it. There's no interpretation of "Best of the Web" that applies to what's effectively a blog entry.
posted by mkultra at 8:13 PM on August 13, 2004

Oh, wait, EB- didn't catch the irony straight away ;)

(the rest applies)
posted by mkultra at 8:15 PM on August 13, 2004

We call that against nature which goes against custom. There is nothing, whatsoever it may be, that is not according to nature. — Michel de Montaigne

Some of you inhabit a very small reality, it seems to me.

(And stavros is correct; this is not a proper Mefi post, and would be a marginal AskMe one. However interesting the topic.)
posted by rushmc at 8:19 PM on August 13, 2004

LOL...OK, I give. I've seriously mis-gauged the characteristics of a legitimate FPP.

Can someone please start a thread on MeTa for this to be deleted? Please. It's apparently really important that this be eradicated from the front page.
posted by LairBob at 8:33 PM on August 13, 2004

I wonder what side of the valley my blow up doll is on...hmm.
posted by lightweight at 8:33 PM on August 13, 2004

Yeah, delete it, quickly! If we start letting people have discussions of interesting things... well, God only knows where we could end up!
posted by reklaw at 8:54 PM on August 13, 2004

getting defensive is unseemly.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:59 PM on August 13, 2004

Where we could end up is as site filled with posts and comments better suited to a "letters to the editor" section of the newspaper.

The topic will be interesting to some, but a single link to a wikipedia entry just doesn't make for good post material.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:59 PM on August 13, 2004

While I agree that this post is a bit on the, well, thin side, it does give me a chance to rant about the concept of the Uncanny Valley. Check out this link from the wikipedia site, and you'll see some details (I assume) of Mori's work.

Most interesting, I think, is that Mori's results suggest that some things which are in no way human actually cross the uncanny valley. In the movement category, Mori claims a "bunraku puppet" is more like a "healthy person" (his standard of perfection) than a "handicapped person." In the appearance category, both a doll and a decorative robot cross the valley. In the overall category, that same stupid bunraku puppet crosses the valley.

The whole concept stinks of being a quick intellectual shorthand that has no meaning. I've not seen any other studies that back Mori up (not that I've really looked outside of a cursory google search), and yet it's one of those concepts that people throw about as if it were gospel truth.

Plus, how could this principle jibe with representational art? I mean, people tend to react pretty positively to the Mona Lisa, and she's flat as a pancake and made of paint - nothing human about that. Statues should really freak us out, but we love David, not to mention the Winged Victory (no head, no arms, but wings, shouldn't that flip our collective wig?)

And, I don't care how cool a bunraku puppet is, it has to be less realistic than Final Fantasy. Ok, that's my little uncanny valley rant, thanks for reading and oh by the way my name is Crazy Ramone.
posted by CrazyJub at 9:05 PM on August 13, 2004

way to derail an interesting thread people ... now back to our regular programming of michael moore, george bush, john kerry and assorted other political posts whose resemblance to the letters to the editor section is a mere coincidence, i'm sure
posted by pyramid termite at 9:09 PM on August 13, 2004

You're right, Salmonberry, and I'm (kind of) sorry for the flip nature of my comment. The point I was trying to make in the first place, though, was that I think that the general criteria we use to judge the "uncanny valley" was starting to shift, away from the criteria that Mori had used to define it in the first place. I couldn't find a lot of other Web articles that supported my specific position, but whatever. I tried to just launch my own take on things, and it's been clearly rejected.
Without trying to be defensive, I clearly basically didn't manage to advance that argument clearly enough. Sure, I'd love it if folks had given it more of the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes that happens, and sometimes it doesn't.

In any case, I seriously wouldn't mind if my post got deleted, if this specific take _did_ eventually "make it". I think it's interesting, and different enough, from what's been discussed before here, but maybe it just needs to get more weight behind it outside of here before it generate a meaningful discussion within MeFi. If anyone else can find more ammo for this take elsewhere, I'd love to see it--I couldn't find it.
posted by LairBob at 9:11 PM on August 13, 2004

[And "you're right, Space Coyote", as well.]
posted by LairBob at 9:13 PM on August 13, 2004

Lair, i was a bit flip too. I think this would have made a good story on K5, perhaps.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:31 PM on August 13, 2004

Look, everyone's hugging. That's great, it makes me feel better for the future of our species and all, but it was still a bad post.
posted by yhbc at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2004

That's hilarious, SC--I actually had a remark in my last comment that maybe this would have been a better K5 post (circa 2002), but I cut it out for the sake of not igniting another tangential firestorm.

But like I said--I'm not personally attached to this thing. I thought it was an interesting enough take, to me, to bring up. I still think it'll eventually spur an interesting debate, once there's enough other stuff out there to frame a post that makes the cut.
posted by LairBob at 9:35 PM on August 13, 2004

Plus, how could this principle jibe with representational art? I mean, people tend to react pretty positively to the Mona Lisa, and she's flat as a pancake and made of paint - nothing human about that. Statues should really freak us out, but we love David, not to mention the Winged Victory (no head, no arms, but wings, shouldn't that flip our collective wig?)

Ive always thought this is more about intent than representation. The Mona Lisa doesnt want us to believe she is real. Neither does David. They stand as objects to be gazed at and admired.

The reason, I believe, that people are freaked out by ventriloquist dummies and clowns is that they are actively trying to convince us of their reality, to impose themselves in our world. The same is true for modern computer animation. We sense that these forms are trying to pass as human and this really shakes us up. Bugs bunny isnt trying to pass as human.

To further make my point, take a look at these images. They are frightening to me even though they are cartoonish. Why? Because they are trying to trespass into our reality.

Wolves arent so frightening. A wolf in grandma's bed is terrifying.
posted by vacapinta at 9:37 PM on August 13, 2004

I was really enjoying this thread until stavros pissed on it. I've spent all week trying to remember the name "Uncanny Valley" after it came up in drunken conversation last weekend...

I saw a somewhat mediocre CG movie recently and as I was watching it I was really blown away by the "acting" that all the non-human creatures did, but the human faces were laughable. The audience audibly snickered when they tried to pull of ernest romantic gazes, etc.

Thinking back on it, it's just so clear that part of my brain was working overtime to anthropomorphize the "creature" characters and probably sensing emotions and details not even rendered on the screen. At the same when presented with a supposedly human face, everything just screams false. Just the slightest mistake in the rendering of the eye during a laugh, or the muscles of the cheeks when they cry, anything and the brain says: "That human is lying to you." That part of the brain is just turned off when non-human characters are portrayed.
posted by Voivod at 9:52 PM on August 13, 2004

People accept the concept, despite the lack of rigorous scientific study to back it up, because we've experienced it. A relative of mine has a doll, for example, that falls right in the middle of "uncanny" for many of the people who see it.

Like Voivod implied, the position on the antropomorphism response scale doesn't depend on photo-realism. It depends on the mechanisms our brain uses to recognize human features, which are not fully understood in any quantitative way. This would explain why a photograph, painting, or statue can look "human" when it obviously isn't.

It would also mean that things can look more human than the real thing, if they can exploit our mental human-recognizing brain software in the right way.
posted by sfenders at 10:47 PM on August 13, 2004

Honestly, LairBob, I don't have any idea what you're talking about, here.
posted by scarabic at 10:49 PM on August 13, 2004

scarabic, apparently my point is much harder to make than I initially assumed (and I'm serious)...

Here's what I was trying to say:

1) I watched part of the opening Olympic ceremonies tonight, and they had these big papier-mache masks that floated apart into pieces, which swung back and forth on wires.

2) My intuitive reaction was "They can't do better than that? It looks totally amateurish! It would've looked much better if they had made the pieces move much more smoothly (like with extra wires or something)."

3) My second reaction was "How messed up is that response? If anything, it's totally authentic (in spirit, at least). If they had actually managed some smooth effect that looked like it was straight out of the Matrix, it really would have been inauthentic." (Given that it was supposed to be alluding to ancient Greek theater).

4) My post was supposed to be about "Why did I have that first intuitive reaction?" Why does it seem strange to see something _real_, albeit imperfect? (Again, I'm assuming that a good portion of folks who saw that opening ceremony had the same split-second reaction I did..."Cool, but look at those pieces swaying all over the place. They can't fix that?")

The real point was that while I know the "uncanny valley" has become kind of a cliche, I think the cultural criteria we're using to judge it has actually flipped over--things that are on the "algorithmic but close" edge are now actually more acceptable than things that are obviously "mechanical".
posted by LairBob at 11:08 PM on August 13, 2004

I think I understand your point but I think it has less to do with any 'uncanny valley' than with a modern loss of the sense of wonder and of our own skepticism. We cant take things at face value but have to dissect them to try to reveal and unravel the man behind the curtain. Its about being unwilling to suspend disbelief.

I think its a cultural blip too. Things we accept as modern and authentic will seem hokey and fake to another generation. A generation ago, laser light shows (where you lay down and listened to Pink Floyd) were the coolest things. Now they seem kind of boring and well, hokey - just a dumb little machine, a glorified lamp making pretty lights.
posted by vacapinta at 11:23 PM on August 13, 2004

It sounds like you're having a tension between the following two impulses:

1) Aw man, that effect wasn't up to the standards set in all the high-budget films, ads, etc that I'm exposed to all the time. And this is supposed to be the Olympics and all.

2) But dude, considering this shit goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks, and the effect was executed in physcial space in real time, not just on computer-processed film footage, that's actually not half bad.

Nothing to do with the uncanny valley. I do sympathize with both sentiments, though, and I think you're operating at a fairly sophisticated level of intra-cultural examination if you're experiencing this crisis. Most people will just latch onto either #1 or #2 and run with it. Times are changing rapidly, and expectations are hard to set properly when you're routinely amazed every couple of days.
posted by scarabic at 11:51 PM on August 13, 2004

or... if you do want to frame it in terms of the uncanny valley, you're in the basin, not on the other side.
posted by scarabic at 11:52 PM on August 13, 2004

I think that vacapinta is right and that so much has to do with one's frame of reference, or at least whatever frame of reference you choose to apply. For example, to me, that particular treatment during the ceremonies was great - I loved it. It reminded me of a huge Cader-esque mobile, and so I much preferred it to some sort of holographic "no-strings" presentation. I do, however, see your point in the sense that we may tend to move towards seeing that which is "real" as being "quaint" or unsubtle, but this has always been with us, in some form. The depictions of love and romance in literature and the arts have always been much more idealized and pristine, for instance, than our real experiences.
posted by taz at 12:02 AM on August 14, 2004

that should have been "Calder"-esque mobile, btw.
posted by taz at 12:06 AM on August 14, 2004

Careful not to confuse Robotics with Entertainment. A robot is built to performs tasks - CGI, puppets, sculptures, and the mona lisa are only different art forms. My blow up doll is more of a robot than Sonny - the almost human/individual robot in the movie I, robot.
posted by lightweight at 12:14 AM on August 14, 2004

David Hanson, a roboticist who developed a realistic robotic copy of his girlfriend's head, called the idea of Uncanny Valley pseudoscientific

Mr. Hanson seems to have gone to great expense in the pursuit of a life like robot. Apparently he wants to make sure his creation doesn't fall into the valley.
posted by lightweight at 2:47 AM on August 14, 2004

I was really enjoying this thread until stavros pissed on it.

I most certainly did not piss on it. I made a reasoned, relatively polite criticism, and expected that if enough people agreed (or not), it would be taken to Metatalk, to end up in our regular weekend thread-pendulum of hurtful recrimination and carefree jocularity.

If I'd posted a picture of an incontinent elephant and told Lairbob to suck my balls, perhaps that might have been thread-pissing. What I actually did say, not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:00 AM on August 14, 2004

I tried to just launch my own take on things, and it's been clearly rejected.

I think you may be mistaking criticism of the post for criticism of the idea. I agree with Stavros that it's not a great post. I would feel the same way even if your first comment was a brilliant 50 page dissertation that ended up defining an entire new field of study for behaviorial scientists. It is good fodder for discussion, and I thought the idea was interesting, but alas, a post requires more than that.
posted by Nothing at 3:24 AM on August 14, 2004

Good point, Nothing--I definitely appreciate a well-researched post. I just had a hard time finding a lot of supplementary material that focused on my specific take, and after a lot of casting about, decided to pull the trigger and put it up there anyway, without a lot of the more well-trodden content on the "uncanny valley". I'm not sure that the criticism was just on the form of the post, but it's all legitimate to debate. That's how places like this get better.
posted by LairBob at 4:42 AM on August 14, 2004

very interesting post, even if it wasn't "GOOD"

i thought the opening ceremonies were very interesting...I had a similar reaction about the swaying sculptures but thought overall it made a very cool seemed a cool blend of art, history, and technology.

the make-up was amazing, and definitely triggered the "uncanny" feeling among some of us. I felt at times they were real people with amazing makeup purposely acting like they were made of robotics.
posted by jacobsee at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2004

The point is, LairBob (and I think maybe you get this now, from your comments, but others here clearly don't), that Metafilter is not a place for posting and discussing one's ideas, but a place to link to things on the web. If I wanted to discuss free will and the only link in my FPP was to the definition of "free will" at, that would be a bad post, and that's essentially what you've done here. Pointing that out does not mean that we hate you or think your idea is dumb or not interesting to discuss; it just means that the post did not meet the requirements of the site guidelines, and self-policing entails pointing that out so as to forestall future abuses.

They are frightening to me even though they are cartoonish.

Really? Frightening?? Wow.
posted by rushmc at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2004

The Mona Lisa doesnt want us to believe she is real.

my limited understanding of art history is that the mona lisa is iconic as a step towards more accurate representation of lighting. something that required both the genius of da vinci and technological adavances in paint, glaze and pigmentation.

so in a very important way she does want us to believe - significantly more than the paintings that came before her.

but really, i don't have much of a clue about this. art historians are welcome to correct me. more on-topic, i'm wondering whether the valley has shifted through the ages. perhaps mona lisa was in the valley of her time?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:41 AM on August 14, 2004

Nice resulting discussion from a "marginally acceptable" post!

taglining stav:
stavros: I most certainly did not piss on it.

posted by Shane at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2004

This whole topic has pretty much been discussed to death by fans of Umberto Eco's treatises on hyperreality, you probably want to start there.

If this post stays, we should resurrect yesterdays, equivalent one-link-plus-opinion post about questionable photos that was apparently "as smart as a box of hammers" just to be fair.
posted by milovoo at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2004

oops, on the re-read, that sounds a bit harsh, with a slight retooling I think it could be a very good question. And the "discussed to death" refers to a few rabid fans of Eco, not the discussions here.
posted by milovoo at 10:23 AM on August 14, 2004

it's a somewhat timely topic for me because i've been wondering about the inverse in why the uncanny valley's "properties of disgust" aren't utilized to that effect (which i think would have helped "i, robot")
in recent articles (i think the times and new scientist?) they've been discussing disgust and its odd primogenitors, and i've always had a very strong reaction to early computer animation, and body/image modification: the difference in knowing what someone was going for and having achieved it. (why bad tattoos are bad and bad plastic surgery is worse.)
but to use those elements of elemental disgust reactions (what caused that first grown post surgical Jacko with facial hair pic to be emailed and linked throughout creation for three weeks, etc.) to that effect in art and movies.
aesthetic vs. practical tactile appreciation in beauty models are never quite understood either, that artistic representations in media/ adverts don't reflect the less vaulted preferences that breathe a less rarified air.

(sorry, if this post is deleted for not being up to metasnuff and my continuing it is a bother, but i find it interesting. if i had time to metatalk it i would. there are lots of interesting tangents as well as the original intent, esp. in what i've been working on, in utilizing the uncanny valley. now if the idea gets stolen i can date them to the link--)
posted by ethylene at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2004

on the art history front, the ability to use the flat plane after the evolution of realism is misunderstood as an evolution in art and theory in much the way that any visual leap such as the myopic and all too popular monets are/were. commonly, much in big A art is/was not meant to be recieved immediately but to be appreciated over time with the discovery of the discrepancies which elude obvious "wrongness"
(must have coffee, focus, yesss... focus is good...)
posted by ethylene at 10:31 AM on August 14, 2004

There's also the fact that we don't see most art in the lighting (and setting) they were made for...Mona Lisa was made for candlelight, and would have appeared much more realistic. The shifting, waxing/waning light candles produce enlivened even the flattest, most unreal-looking art, i believe.
posted by amberglow at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2004

yeah, mona (miss lisa if ur nasty) isn't the best example because there were lots of reasons even ur mama knows now of the artistic mis/intents of leonardo.
it's interesting also because technical things such as animation or even computer chips have had to stop being purely theory/aesthetic to be most functional, using more and more of those pesky "analog" elements of life to be less "wrong".
miniatures and live effects always end up being necessary if they cannot completely move one into the "world" of the creators intent.
Choosing to accept the "world" of whatever is a factor in if or how you accept it.
posted by ethylene at 10:55 AM on August 14, 2004

heh, np, milovoo. I'm past the phase in my life where I can gladly dive into cryptic pomo discussions--getting a BA in modern lit theory kind of put me off it for good--but this topic definitely does spin off into interesting tangents around representation, and our culture's perception of that representation. (And I'll definitely concede that this might have been more appropriate as an AskMe post.)

Going from there to ethylene's comment, I think there's actually an interesting connection to this thread, showcasing some guy's impressive drafting skills. On a technical level, it's practically photorealistic, and it's compelling to _look_ at, but it's eminently disposable. (I don't mean that in a bad way, but I don't think the illustrator himself has any illusions about the permanence of what he's doing.)

One of the main responses it's gotten in the thread, though, is the debate over whether or not it's CG, or done "by hand". There's a grudging respect for the skill of doing it manually, but the end result that companies want is still something that bears no mark of its making.

Obviously, this has also been debated endlessly in architecture, where so much of the late 20th century was about re-introducing the visible traces of a building's structure and construction. It's definitely not a new, but something about having this come up in the context of ancient theater really struck me.
posted by LairBob at 11:02 AM on August 14, 2004

I sorta thought it belonged on AskMe too. No biggie though.
posted by scarabic at 11:46 AM on August 15, 2004

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