Life Rewired Shorts: Uncanny Valley

Barbican Centre

Welcome to the Uncanny Valley, a nostalgic and familiar place that looks and feels very much like the human experience, but with something a bit strange in the corner of your eye...

Still from Uncanny Valley by Gary Dumbill. Part of Life Rewired Shorts film series, Gary Dumbill, Barbican Centre, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
How does your film respond to the Barbican's season, Life Rewired?
''I became slightly obsessed with a Donald Trump speech written after thousands of hours of audio recorded at his rallies were fed into a bot. It’s both hilarious and really unsettling. I wanted to explore this feeling and imagine what would happen if artificial intelligence was given free reign to create consciousness. The film is deliberately unsettling, using visual and audio, specifically created for the film, to disorientate.' 
Still from Uncanny Valley by Gary Dumbill. Part of Life Rewired Shorts film series, Gary Dumbill, Barbican Centre, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Barbican Centre

'The more 'human' androids seem, the more comforting they feel. Until they start to become really convincing, at which point they become very creepy. This dip in emotional response to familiarity is known as the ‘Uncanny Valley’.

Still from Uncanny Valley by Gary Dumbill. Part of the Barbican's Life Rewired Shorts film series., Gary Dumbill, Barbican Centre, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
Can you explain the process behind the making of your film?'
'I knew that I wanted to create a sensory experience rather than to tell a story as such, and animation is the perfect tool. I find nostalgic imagery to have the strongest emotion pull and provoke strong responses, something which has been manipulated for political gains since primates were up to no good hanging around black monoliths.'
Still from Uncanny Valley by Gary Dumbill. Part of Life Rewired Shorts film series, Gary Dumbill, Barbican Centre, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
What does the filmmaker of the future look like?
'Hopefully Robocop, but more likely computer algorithms. They’ll recycle scenes and scripts tailored to each individual, based on their tastes. What feels the most familiar and comforting will take priority, sending the viewer down a rabbit hole of warm fuzzy confirmation bias.'
Credits: Story

About the filmmaker
Gary Dumbill is multi award winning animator, designer and music video director from Manchester.

Life Rewired Shorts are a series of short films produced in collaboration with The Smalls. Each month throughout 2019, we asked filmmakers to explore the ideas behind the Barbican's Life Rewired, a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

The series is supported by the British Council's Anyone / Anywhere, a global season on the 30th anniversary of the birth of the web, looking at the impact of this world-changing invention on every aspect of our lives.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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