Westworld and The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley is a graph created my Masahiro Mori in the 1970’s, where he mapped out the how humans have an innate affinity towards human likeness, and turned it into a graph. He found out that the closer an object gets towards hyper-realism the more repulsed or even horrified a person gets. Mori explains he’s feelings towards wax figures, how they are highly realistic and retaining an uncanny aesthetic due to their eyes being constantly open, watching you. To some people this would be the peak point of the “uncanny valley”, the aesthetic the makes your skin crawl. This graph can be applied anything, including art, film, sculpture and literature. “Westworld” is a series that explains Mori’s concept perfectly.

 WestWorld

The “Westworld” park is supposed to be a place where people can choose who they want to be and get away with murder, literally. All the people inside this park are robots that have an uncanny resemblance to humans, in looks and mannerisms. There are parts in the series when the robots are being assessed, here they are dehumanized loosing all human mannerisms, this changeover is so drastic that we suddenly find ourselves wandering how strange and almost scary they are. To create this effect, the special effects section would slightly tweek the eyes of the people acting as robots so as to make it more believable. In this series there is a lot of focus on the eyes, seeing as they are the main feature that a person empathises with, by manipulating them they automatically dehumanize the “robot”. This technique along with voice alterations and specific mannerism changes, create the ultimate uncanny effect.To me this series as a whole is a well thought out masterpiece that takes the viewer on an insanely uncanny journey.

doloflyswat

(Life in her eyes)

hbos-westworld-season-1-episode-1-the-fly-on-dolores-670x377

(No life in her eyes)

Reference:

Swiftfilm. 2016, How WESTWORLD Uses Special Effects To Achieve The Uncanny Valley Effect On Its Actors.  [online] Available at: <http://www.swiftfilm.com/how-westworld-uses-special-effects-to-achieve-the-uncanny-valley-effect-on-its-actors/&gt; [06 March 2017].

WIRED. 2011, How Robotics Master Masahiro Mori Dreamed Up the ‘Uncanny Valley’ [online] Available at: <https://www.wired.com/2011/11/pl_mori/&gt; [06 March 2017].

 

 

 

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