Please click here to view the virtual exhibition.
One of the greatest impacts that technology has had is the ability to connect and communicate instantaneously across the globe. What once may have seemed out of reach, like the ability to talk ‘face to face’ with someone living 10,000 miles from your home, is now just one click away:
You are sitting cross-legged on a dusty, dirt-covered rug, facing a 12-year-old girl. Her name is Sidra. You are in a Syrian refugee camp listening to her tell you about her life: “I am in the fifth grade. I am from Syria, in the Daraa Province, Inkhil City. I have lived here in the Zaatari camp in Jordan for the last year and a half. I have a big family.”
The scene described above comes from the documentary “Clouds Over Sidra.” Departing from a typical documentary experience, the creators made “Clouds Over Sidra” to be viewed through an Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. Speaking on the viewer’s experience, co-creator Chris Milk says, “...when you're sitting there in her room, watching her, you're not watching it through a television screen, you're not watching it through a window, you're sitting there with her.”
The genre of science fiction has long addressed the question of what it is to be human in the face of advancing technology, but many aspects of this question are no longer limited to science fiction as they quickly become science and technology fact. Technology is changing human relationships with others and to one’s self, on both an emotional and functional level. Beginning with the Internet and jumping to artificial intelligence, prosthetic limbs, robotics, cybernetics, virtual reality, biotechnology, and more, humanity is left to question what constitutes our identity. Is our humanity altered when an artificial heart pumps our blood, or a robotic arm takes the place of one lost? What would it mean about us if a machine felt our same emotions, as seen in movies like “Her” and “Ex Machina”? We are left to question our species’ social and biological evolution with the dominance of social interactions taking place through online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
- Marnie Benney, SciArt Curator