Uncanny Valleys

These two states, one pure and original, the other imitative and impure, are now fictions … What has happened to the aura surrounding the original work of art, so prized by generations of collectors and critics? Digitalization transfers this aura to the individuated copy. Artist and viewer perform together. The dead replica and the living, authentic original are merging, like lovers entwined in mutual ecstasy.

— The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction (An Evolving Thesis: 1991–1995) Douglas Davis


This body of work was created using a software that generates landscapes for computer games. The video was made using a 3d scanner on a phone. Hyper-realism is perhaps not the right term for the above however here the representation is no longer a simulacra- though it is by its nature a simulation.



The title is taken from Dr. Masahiro Mori’s theory of the: ‘Uncanny Valley’, it is used to describe the phenomena of witnessing a lifelike robot or simulation. The more real it looks the more uncanny it becomes, until it becomes a near perfect simulation, then we treat it as if it is actually real.



This work was in part also inspired by Loren Carpenter an early pioneer of computer animation and who was involved both in the Star Wars franchise and Pixar. He created computer simulations as early as 1980. Now this technology has been democratised what artificial worlds will we create? We already inhabit a metaphysical realm; the cloud, that intangible space in which human interaction has become commoditised, now it is our experience of actual space, or the symbolic real, which comes into question.

The period of modernism obliterated time and space with the invention of the photograph, the telephone and trains. Everything moved outwards. Now the image has turned inwards and outwards simultaneously. The unreal and the real colliding.



Sam has also used this work to illustrate a peice of fiction which can be read by clicking here.

© 2020 Sam Wood

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