Keiichi Matsuda’s Hyper-Reality Concept Film Makes for an Unnerving Six Minutes
Keiichi Matsuda has created a haunting six-minute concept film called Hyper-Reality that takes augmented reality and corporate branding to its logical conclusion. A week ago, I still would’ve thought this concept film was creepy, but I wouldn’t have thought it was particularly realistic. This week, we’ve just watched Pokemon Go become the latest fad, and sponsored PokeStops aren’t far behind, so the augmented reality world presented in Hyper-Reality feels a little bit closer to our own weird situation now. I don’t think the darkest elements of the future presented in Hyper-Reality will come true, but it’s still an interesting concept, and the film is beautifully made.
As the Hyper-Reality website explains in the description of the project, the theory behind this video is “the internet of things,” which is a phrase coined over a decade ago in reference to the newly interconnected nature of the world. Everything from Pokemon Go to Amazon Dash buttons is part of “the internet of things,” and although it’s fun to press a button to order a new carton of laundry detergent, it can result in some unusual problems.
I don’t want to spoil this video, since it’s only six minutes, so go ahead and watch it first, okay? … Done watching? Hi! Okay, so the central premise of the video revolves around what would happen if you got hacked in a world that relies almost entirely upon augmented reality. It would still be possible to steal someone’s identity and all of their money (or their “points,” as reflected in the world of Hyper-Reality) and that would be all the more devastating in a world that is powered by AI customer service and bureaucratic red tape.
In this short film, our heroine uses her blood to prove her identity, but if someone steals your blood, then you’re kinda screwed, right? The idea would make for a great concept for a feature-length film, but Hyper-Reality manages to convey all of the weight of the problem in just six minutes, showing the augmented reality systems breaking down–because they’re “under attack,” possibly from a hacker, although it’s not explained and left up to the viewer’s imagination. It’s also cool how her attacker has managed to render themselves as an identity-free blur, so she can’t even tell who they are once they finally appear.
There are lots of other unnerving touches in the video that really take it to the next level. My favorite part is when our heroine is standing in the grocery store waiting for her augmented reality vision to restart, and she briefly sees the “real world”. It doesn’t look that different from the augmented reality world, but the beautiful elevator music that is playing all the time in the background has disappeared, and the store’s signs have been replaced with meaningless codes (sort of like QR codes), plus there’s a baby crying in the background. It’s not so much of a stark difference that it feels unrealistic, or anything. Instead, it’s just a subtle shift that shows how easily AR could take over a space like a grocery store and make it more “pleasant,” albeit in a totally manufactured, sponsored way.
Props to Keiichi Matsuda and the rest of the creative team for putting together such a visually compelling short film. It’s only six minutes, but it manages to capture a haunting image of the future, without being too heavy-handed or hitting the viewer over the head with tons of dialogue or exposition. To find more of Keiichi Matsuda’s work, check out the Hyper-Reality website.
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