Tuesday, December 31, 2013

fictional sex redefined by technology

Yoni in the dunes
An earlier blog post, "love in all its dimensions" (Dec. 2009), discussed some current, new directions by movie scriptwriters, and urban subculture artists, exploring imaginary sexual relationships between sentient and insentient actors.  This usually involved a man playing his own real-life character, and a female-themed art object, like a puppet or a 2-D art piece, playing a role as his love interest. The movie discussed in the blog was "Lars and the Real Girl," and the subculture world was called Otaku. This is a Japanese slang term for "reclusive computer nerds, who often post screen shots of their (insentient lover) or go on real-life dates with (them on) their video-game console," and is discussed this month in the NYTimes 13Dec2013.

The same Times article, "Interactive Gets a New Meaning," by Alex Hawgood, besides other intrigues, discusses a new movie, "Her," just released by Hollywood.  It involves the Otaku-like relationship between the actor and the artificial-intelligence voice of a woman programmed on his smartphone operating system:


In "Her," the near-future romance film written and directed by Spike Jonze, there is an awkwardly remarkable moment in which the lead character, Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix), has an intimate encounter with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) after returning home inebriated from a failed blind date with another woman.  Filmed with a close-up lens, it shows Theodore gently edging Samantha into arousal by telling her what he wishes to do to her body.  As things become increasingly explicit, the screen turns black, leaving the audience lingering in darkness as the characters reach their aural climax.

The relationship depicted in "Her," between Theodore and Samantha, seems eerily close to a rapport one can already notice between the driver of a vehicle, and the ethereal voice of the Siri woman emitted from his car's speaker system as she carries out his spoken commands to dial phone numbers, look up information, check the weather, etc.  Siri is uncomplainingly efficient, and pleasant too, so when you buy your next car maybe you ought to purchase the deluxe model of the voice command system and upgrade to a Samantha edition.

This concept of the interactive personal escort could be fertile ground for some amazing new fiction.

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