mez breeze on Mon, 25 Aug 2008 15:21:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> _Emily is Not Real_: Uncanny Valley vs The Digital Übermensch

<a href="http://";>_Emily
is Not Real_: Uncanny Valley vs The Digital ?bermensch</a>

Posted August 22nd, 2008 by mez

_Uncanny Valley_ is a term used to describe negative reactions to any
artificial human form that approaches the realistic. Doctor Masahiro Mori
described The Uncanny Vally Effect as a result of testing:

"?people's emotional responses to a wide variety of robots, from
non-humanoid to completely humanoid. He found that the human tendency to
empathize with machines increases as the robot becomes more human. But at a
certain point, when the robot becomes too human, the emotional sympathy
abruptly ceases, and revulsion takes its place. People began to notice not
the charmingly human characteristics of the robot but the creepy zombielike
differences" [link-referenced].

The Uncanny Valley Effect continues beyond mechanically-produced humanoid
representations to the synthetic. In 2005, Mori revised his theory by adding
a category that includes an artistic expression of human modelling and
"something more attractive and amiable than human beings".

In synthetic environments, humanesque avatar adoption illustrates just how
the Uncanny Valley Effect diffuses in line with Mori's revised principle.
In-world participants [both game oriented and otherwise] display
comprehensive identity projection in order to achieve workable immersion.
This projection promotes the adoption of synthetic character "skins" as
extensions of consciousness, rather than presenting as externalised
automatons. Players then view their avatars as an Ego [in the Freudian
sense] elongation as opposed to a humanoid mirror.

Humanoid avatars may also fall into an _ultrahuman_ perceptual category as
shown through the example of _Emily_: [see link above for video].

Emily operates as an amalgam of a geophysical and synthetically rendered
entity: her face is mapped to that of her human counterpart, a live actor
also named Emily. The resulting augmentation accelerates beyond the Uncanny
Valley dip [as seen in the graph linked above] via minuscule asymmetries
that aren't scaled high enough to break the beauty-symmetry barrier. Her
face is unlined, unmarked, yet still convincing as a heightened variation of
a "real" actor. Emily embodies the concept of the digitized _?bermensch_; an
iconic mix of synthetic + geopresenced perfection.

Could the technology used to produce Emily extend to the creation of
augmented identity "sets" where tailor-made avatars are worn according to
contexts/moods? Could the future of the cosmetics industry involve the mass
production of illusionary facial constructs applied as easily as make-up
[think: a mixture of a holographic caul and synthetic rendering]?


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