San Andreas: Snapshot from Uncanny Valley

Massimo Napoli

Empathic reaction to simulated anthropomorphic is not simple.
You should think that the more the simulacrum is detailed and realistic, the more the reaction is positive. It’s not that simple.
Sometimes when the representation is almost perfect, when the simulation starts to be so realistic to be not recognized immediately as fiction, this perfection causes repulsion and awkwardness. While the obviously unreal human figure is well accepted by our eyes, the over-detailed but still unreal simultation causes discomfort.
In scientific term, the chart representing the empathic reaction of the observer suffers a peak in the negative: the “Uncanny Valley”. This is a research with serious implications when applied to robotics and medical surgery. The research has less serious, but still interesting, implications when applied to more light hearted environments, such as animation and videogames.
The photos proposed in this series were taken with a mobile phone. Not my phone, but a video game character mobile phone instead. A richly detailed videogame, with an huge area to explore and, as it seems, to photograph. A valley, a city, few towns, with human and animal population: San Andreas an often grotesque alter-loco of real California.
The themes of the game are deliberately ignored by focusing on its infrastructure created as virtual scenery.
The wilderness and the city are fake, but almost imperceptibly.
The characters that inhabit them are fake as well, most obviously as they approach.
The photo are not. Maybe.


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