Machine/flesh. That’s what I’ve taken to calling this process of integrating machinery into our and, as I newly realized, other animals’ flesh. My new realization was courtesy of a television ad for Absolut Greyhound Vodka. First, here’s the very, very long (3 mins. 39 secs.) ad/music video version,
I gather the dogs are mostly or, possibly, all animation. Still, the robotic dogs are very thought-provoking. It’s kind of fascinating to me that I found a very unusual, futuristic, and thought-provoking idea embedded in advertising so I dug around online to find a March 2012 article by Rae Ann Fera, about the ad campaign, written for the Fast (Company} Co-Create website,
In the real world, music and cocktails go hand in hand. In an Absolut world, music and cocktails come with racing robotic greyhounds remotely controlled by a trio of DJs, spurred on by a cast of characters that make Lady Gaga look casual.
“Greyhound”–which is the title of the drink, the video, and the actual music track–is a three-minute visual feast created by TBWA\Chiat\Day that sees three groups of couture-sporting racing enthusiasts converge on the Bonneville Salt Flats to watch some robotic greyhounds speed across the parched plains, all while sipping light pink Absolut Greyhounds. While the fabulous people in the desert give each other the “my team’s going to win” stink-eye, the three members of Swedish House Mafia are off in a desolate bunker remotely controlling the robodogs to a photo-finish while ensconced in holographic orbs. …
Given that “Greyhound” is part music video, part ad, it will be distributed across a number of channels. “When it come to our target, music is their number one passion point and they live in the digital space so the campaign is really going to primarily TV and digital,” says Absolut’s Kouchnir [Maxime Kouchnir, Vice President, Vodkas, Pernod Ricard USA].
The advertisers, of course, are trying to sell vodka by digitally creating a greyhound that’s part robot/part flesh and then setting the stage for this race with music, fashion, cocktails, and an open-ended result. But, if one thinks of advertising as a reflection of culture, then these animated robot/flesh greyhounds suggest that something is percolating in the zeitgeist.
I have other examples on this blog but here are a few recent nonadvertising items I’ve come across that support my thesis. First, I found an April 27, 2012 article (MIT Media Lab Hosts The Future) by Neal Ungerleider for Fast Company, from the article,
This week, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Media Lab researchers and minds from around the world got together to discuss artificial implantable memories, computers that understand emotion… and Microsoft-funded robotic teddy bears. Will the next Guitar Hero soon be discovered?
Then there are the scientists who will be able to plant artificial memories in your head. Ted Berger of the University of Southern California is developing prosthetic brain implants that mimic the mind. Apart from turning recipients into cyborgs, the brain prostheses actually create fake memories, science fiction movie style: In experiments, researchers successfully turned long-term memories on and off in lab rats. Berger hopes in the future, once primate testing is complete, to create brain implants for Alzheimer’s and stroke patients to help restore function.
While erasing and/or creating memories may seem a bit distant from our current experience, the BBC May 3, 2012 news article by Fergus Walsh, describes another machine/flesh project at the human clinical trials stage. Retinal implants have placed in two British men,
The two patients, Chris James and Robin Millar, lost their vision due to a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, where the photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye gradually cease to function.
The wafer-thin, 3mm square microelectronic chip has 1,500 light-sensitive pixels which take over the function of the photoreceptor rods and cones.
The surgery involves placing it behind the retina from where a fine cable runs to a control unit under the skin behind the ear.
I believe this is the project I described in Aug. 18, 2011 posting (scroll down 2/3 of the way), which has 30 participants in the clinical trials, worldwide.
It sometimes seems that we’re not creating new life through biological means, synthetic or otherwise, but, rather, with our machines, which we are integrating into our own and other animal’s flesh.