The Uncanny Valley

  • 2014

At the intersection of artificial intelligence, robotics, psychology and the unconscious, The Uncanny Valley is a non-linear and navigable narrative dealing with a subject rarely examined outside of science fiction: androids. The Uncanny Valley is an hybrid between film and videogame, a narrative that unfolds with a certain degree of randomness and engages the spectator in a face-to-face confrontation with an android, posing the question of what distinguishes us as humans.

More than a distinction between humanity and artificiality, this project questions us in our relationships with individuality, and life itself. Over the course of the viewer’s experience, it is both the robot and the spectator’s psyches which are brought to the fore.

However, a successful sequencing of the plot depends chiefly on the effective execution of simple tasks imposed by the robot. Through the interplay of predetermined operations, activation sequences, play and manipulation, it is paradoxically a relationship of dependance that emerges.

This project takes the form of an installation including a videoprojection and an interactive panel consisting of arcade buttons. This panel operates and plays melodies increasing a new note to each video. This principle is based on the board game “Simon”, using sound and visual memory. As far as the film grows, the player is required to activate sequences of notes longer and complex.

  • 2014-2015
  • Installation. Video, sound, gamepads.
  • Exhibitions: SKOL art center, BIAN, Montreal.
  • Meq Festival, CDN Montpellier.
  • Centre Bellegarde, Toulouse.
  • Le ZO, Nîmes.

The Uncanny Valley should be perceived as a filmic object whose narrative depends on what the viewer was able to reproduce perfectly a melody played on a console. The work takes the form of an installation in short format (25 minutes) and an application for long-format tablet containing all scenes (45 min) and melody.

The Uncanney Valley is a film whose narrative is interspersed with a melody which the viewer must faithfully reproduce every note. A successful sequence continues the narrative. A failed sequence causes the image to flash and forces to return to exercise. Each sequence increments a new note until a total of 36 ratings. These sequences are induced by the main character/narrator. Gradually, as the viewer executes and succeeds, the spirit of “robota” become aware of his existence, of his feelings. It questions the capacity for empathy and worth of the human. The repeated act, clocked automatic is here symbolic. Having reached the end of the melody, we may be reversed our roles.

Narrator: “I work, I operate, I accomplish the tasks. One after the other. Time does not matter. It is not for me. It cadences, coordinates and focus all of my gestures. It is a measure, a note, a note.“

The narrative

Intermediary extracts

This project has been possible thanks to the support of Yann Sinic who graciously lent his voice to the project and offered several of his own rushes. We renew to him our warmest thanks.

Actress: Anouk
Sound and music creation: Valentin Durif and Gaspard Bebie–Valérian
With the support of the Languedoc-Roussillon Region. Development (Christophe Couprie).