Sign up for the Real Future newsletter, a weekly email about the people, ideas, and tech changing your world.
At the risk of sounding jaded, there's a great deal of tech art that's…bad. Lucky for us, there's also some that's very good, even if it's uncomfortable. For instance, "Hyper-Reality:"
The short film, which was made by designer Keiichi Matsuda, is the result of a 2013 crowdfunding campaign that raised £29,387 (or $42,690). It's one of a couple of similar projects Matsuda has created, but also the best.
The movie, shot in first person, imagines a day in the life of Juliana Restrepo, a stressed-out gig economy worker in the Medellín, Colombia of some near-future. Restrepo, whose world is filtered through an information-crowded augmented reality device, begins to experience some glitches, and the rest I will leave to you to find out.
The video, which feels a little like a cross between They Live and a William Gibson book, is lush with color and vividly detailed. It's one of those rare pieces that made me think, "This should be in VR, except maybe it'd be too terrifying."
Which brings me to what's remarkable about "Hyper-Reality," beyond its visual beauty. The piece is really good at making you (or me, at least) feel some of Restrepo's simmering concern about her hyper-quantified life as a low-paid gig economy worker. There's been a bit of discussion over whether virtual reality and similar technologies can help users empathize more with the people whose experiences they're inhabiting. Maybe "Hyper-Reality" is just tapping into my own latent anxiety, but damn does it do the trick.
Anyway, it's best experienced by just watching it, so go do so.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org