This viral campaign was executed in November 2011 by 4Creative (Channel 4's in-house marketing and promotions agency), prior to the initial series transmission of Black Mirror in December 2011 on Channel 4. It not only opens a dialogue concerning Channel 4's historical affiliation with spoofs, hoaxing and satirical programming (such as Brass Eye and Nathan Barley), but also sheds light onto the relationship that the gaming/technology communities have with "vapourware" (projects that are announced and sound too good to be true, subsequently sinking without trace). The "project" featured within the campaign video also illuminates the fine line between repulsed fear and lustful desire vis-a-vis technology, if online reactions to it were any indication (linking our brains to Apple products can only end well, if our widespread fears concerning "Big Data" and fearful knowledge of AI-behaviour in science-fiction are any indication!). It featured a technological innovation which was both fantastical yet representative of the next potential step in computing: from voice-activated mobile technologies to thought-activated ones ("hacking" Apple's assistant, Siri, in the process), seeking the assistance and support of the Kickstarter crowd in order to achieve such goals.
"Project Black Mirror" was, in short, extremely effective in conveying the style, tone and preoccupations of the television programming that it was promoting. It prognosticated upon pre-existing technologies and twisted them into foreboding shapes, whilst also questioning the impact that such devices/developments might have upon humanity's relationship with one another. It also opened up a wider discussion concerning the nature of experiment and innovation (something which ostensibly hews close to the remit obligations of Black Mirror's parent broadcaster); is it being done for the betterment of humankind/audiences, or is experiment being undertaken quite simply because the "inventors" can (or must, in order to profit from consumers)? 4Creative's campaign created viral buzz within the technology community and on social media, with the type of conjectural technologies showcased by the "project", which would subsequently feature within the series itself, undoubtedly having an unsettling impact upon potential audiences before a single second of the programme was broadcast on Channel 4, planting the seed of disquiet and queasiness that is Black Mirror's modus operandi.
I’m quite a big fan of
I'm quite a big fan of Charlie Brooker's work, enough to immediately notice that the examples of satirical programming you use both involved him as a writer, but this being said this viral campaign for Black Mirror completely passed me by so thanks for bringing it to my attention. For me the video sort of highlights how technology is indistinguishable from magic in terms of how lay-people understand its workings, as key to making the video work was the clever utilisation of technological sounding 'magic words'. The key point you make here for me is the one regarding the fine line between 'repulsed fear and lustful desire', so to keep it relatively broad I just wondered if you'd considered the psychoanalytic implications of the campaign? (perhaps in relation to the Death Drive?) Also, I'd love to hear any extra comments you may have on "vapourware" as it's an area I'm quite interested at looking at myself in relation to spectrality.
"The Entire History of You"
I hadn't seen this either, so this was quite intriguing to encounter. Very insightful discussion. First thought came to mind was that this sounds like "The Entire History of You" in different form - and I remember you saying that you enjoyed that episode in particular in response to my discussion yesterday. I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the invasive nature of this "next step" in technology and human consciousness. The episode reminded me very much of Futurama's eyePhone in which the device is implanted in the head and behind the eye. Of course, Matt Groening is much more light-hearted in his depiction, but there seems to be a similar anxiety as far as how "linking our brains to Apple products can only end well," as you say. Beyond the the physically invasive (even penatrative) nature of the "installation," what are your thoughts on the apparatus as an extension of the (post)human body?
Shades of Strange Days?
Like the other commenters, I too had never seen this video and was glad to see it brought to light here. As part of my science fiction class I used to screen Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days (1995) which features a wireless headset that allows the user to view and feel 'clips' of recorded memories (either their own or someone else's). One of my students remarked on the similarities between the function of the device in The Entire History of You and the one in Strange Days. This video showcases a similar device yet again. I was also reminded of the fake TED talk used to promote Prometheus and while it's aesthetically (and intentionally) far more slick than what we see here, the hoax as promotion element is similar. Is there a certain correlation between our anxieties about what very nearly amounts to wet implants and the increasing verisimilitude of their portrayals in shows like Black Mirror and elsewhere? I'd love to hear what others think about this.
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