When SF writer Arthur C. Clark was telling the future
MEMORY. This is not done on purpose but at the VR Arles festival, which is currently held and until August 26, 2018, several works presented deal with the notion of time, memory and memory. “Virtual reality lends itself well to this spatio-temporal dispersion” says Benoît Baume, editorial director of Fisheye magazine and one of the creators of the festival. The eponymous character of Vaysha VR, for example, sees the past in one eye, the future in the other. Recall is a crime investigation game in which the viewer/participant explores the memory of nine protagonists. For the poignant Vestige, the director recorded the real-life testimony of a woman who had lost her husband six months earlier and reinterpreted the notion of loss and shattered memories through her voice in immersive mode.
And if you were to see only one shot of the entire program, it would probably be the breathtaking vertical dive that opens Dinner party to drop you literally in the middle of a sixties dining room. The film features the first documented account of an alien abduction, in this case the one that Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been the subject of in 1961.
Yet the most striking is still elsewhere. In the six minutes of I saw the future directed by the Frenchman François Vautier and produced by Arte around the words of the writer Arthur C. Clarke made for the BBC’s Horizon program in 1964. The future author of 2001, l’odyssée de l’espace (a book written at the same time as Stanley Kubrick was preparing the film adaptation)gives his visions of the future. The full document can be seen here ; the author’s intervention only begins at 3: 35. Which means that he has nothing to do with the words that precede his appearance in the image, explaining how magnificent the new technologies are since they will soon allow to raze a jungle in a few hours with laser to then erect cities and trace highways full of trucks and cars not really electric … 1964, we tell you.
The prowess of communications networks
Arthur C. Clarke, on the other hand, is talking about something else. At a time when the singers of transhumanism, the zealots of artificial intelligence or other spontaneous futurologists compete with prophecies, it is good to hear him quietly evoke what is not yet called the Internet, and, more generally, the prowess of communication networks that, in 2018, no longer amazes anyone.
“I am sincerely confident that Edinburgh-based neurosurgeons will perform operations in New Zealand,” he says. An entrepreneur will be able to “run his business from Tahiti or Bali in the same way as if he were in London”. Arthur C. Clarke supports his statements on current and future advances in transistors and satellite communications. For information, the famous ” Moore’s law “, which relies on the continuous increase in the capabilities of microprocessors, was first stated by Gordon Moore in 1965. One year after that show.
The soundtrack of I saw the future is all about the voice of the writer. The image starts from the initial hertzian signal to enlarge, distort, divert, decompose the author’s face until it gives the impression to the viewer to go inside his head as he grazes his visions of a world where the notion of distance would be totally abolished by the networks. While remaining astonishingly humble when he explains that, deep down, the future can never be foreseen. Hence the fascination he exerts on us.
There remains, however, a clear error of judgment in Clark’s statement. “It will then become possible a world in which we will be in immediate contact with each other wherever we are, in which we can reach our friends anywhere on Earth, even if we do not know their physical location. “But yes, we usually know where they are. Everyone knows that. Even those who shouldn’t know.