Live-Tweeting, An Eight Week Saga

For the last several weeks, I have immersed myself into the art of live tweeting. Throughout my university degree, I have never once been asked to do this. It was refreshing to have a subject with no pre-conceived knowledge of what the tasks would involve. To live tweet, we watched an array of science fiction films applying the theories and concepts discussed in lectures. Through that foundation we extended those ideas by collaborating with other members of the class, discussing thoughts and opinions whilst also proposing questions for others to answer. It was a way to engage the audience with the content and introduce a new and exciting way in achieving class collaboration and discussion. Therefore, this blog post will be a curation of tweets, both my own and others, in a week by week layout to demonstrate my overall experience of the live tweeting process.

Week One: – Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 Anime – Ghost in the Shell.

The beginning of any new task always requires a warm up stage. I used this week to grasp the concept of live tweeting. The film was an effective introduction into the future cultures course content; it highlighted some keys themes that would be addressed throughout the semester. My initial thoughts after week one lingered around the ideas and impacts of technological advancement, the ethics involved in creating robots and the way in which this film highlights some important societal issues relevant even today. There is a scene in the movie known as the puppet master’s speech that alludes to issues surrounding politics, power, money and technology. My favourite tweet for the week discussed merging and suggestion it was a form of love.

Week Two – Michael Crichton’s 1973 Film: – Westworld.

By far one of the best films we watched. This week was interesting and provided so much material for solid class discussion. I think this film conveyed some powerful messages around gender, equality, sexualisation, slavery and so much more. It really focused on the representation of emotion. Can robots have the same emotional responses as humans when they are only machines or are they no longer just machines?

I was a major fan of the film techniques throughout each scene; I love directors who can successfully make the visual stimulus just as important as the clues in the dialogue. Another major aspect of this week was the objectification of women through sexualisation. I found this tweet important for the movie context but also to highlight a prevalent issue in contemporary society.

 

Week Three: – Robert Longo’s 1995 Film :- Johnny Mnemonic.

Honestly this movie was somewhat good and somewhat bad. Some iconic actors and actresses but each scene made me cringe uncomfortably. However it did have an amazing visual representation of cyberspace. This week is where I retweeted some posts produced by other members of the class. I particularly liked the one posted by Angela alluding to cyberpunk in the entertainment industry. I think it helped explain some of the core elements of cyberpunk representation in this film.

 

Week Five:- Netflix’s Black Mirror – “Be right Back”, Season Two, Episode One

This sci-fi anthology series imagines realities in which people are forced to power their own existence, receive memory implants and more. I really enjoyed this week’s content, it requires you to pay close attention to each subtle gesture in the film. My aim was to engage deeply with the content this week provided so I could offer personal insights with a little more depth. I had two tweets where I think I tried to analyse some of the major themes of love and loss, pain and suffering, right and wrong.

 

Week Six:- Jake Schreier’s 2012 film:- Robot and Frank

This week’s film was lighthearted comedy with some pretty unexpected heart wrenching moments. It dealt with the isolation of growing old, the deterioration of dementia and the ethical issues surrounding robots. This week my engagement wasn’t the best with the live-tweeting, I was too engrossed in the actual film itself but I did find this quote I tweeted quite relatable to the ethical debate surrounding the use of robots as slaves.

Week Seven:- Netflix’s Black Mirror- “Hated in the Nation“, Season Three, Episode Six

By far the best week for engagement, this episode highlighted online bullying and the psychological impacts this can have on people. It talked about social media, online behaviours and the ramifications of power imbalances. I loved the collaboration of discussion between my peers. Throughout the screening we discussed some serious issues that have impacted people personally and collectively too.

 

On a less serious note, depending on the way you want to look at, I had my most liked tweet happen in this week. I still think it was a worthy and relevant tweet that needed to be shared about the spider take-over that could occur any moment.

Week Eight:- Ridley Scott’s 1982 Film :- Blade Runner

What an epic way to end the live-tweet saga with one of the best sci-fi films ever made. There are so many subtle references to the control of corporations, power imbalances in class structures, cyborgs, cyberspace, ethics, social injustices, sexualisation of women, the human deconstruction of the natural environment, biblical references and so much more. What makes us human is the main question that goes unanswered in the film, rather it purposefully leaves a void for you to decide with your own interpretation.

 

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Redefining the idea of the MANBOT

“Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled”. Aimee Mullins (2009, TED TALKS, YOUTUBE)

In relation to my first blog post, I focused on the fears and apprehensions society faces in relation to the MANBOT. I discussed my personal woes around this half-human, half-robot reality. More importantly, I realized there is a major stigma in society against technological prosthesis. The assumption many people conclude, is that machine and man cannot intertwine without the loss of humanity. The perception comes from ingrained fears of the other, something so different it is deemed to be threatening. This is exacerbated by different media representations in films, movies, books and comics. As a result there is a current societal skepticism towards technological advancement. In reality, technology is constantly changing and further enhancing human capabilities: with individuals becoming dependent on technological support to regain function of certain body parts.

Cyborgisation is occurring all around us and has positively affected the lives of many. There are so many inspirational stories of people with disabilities, injuries and other conditions who enjoy a better quality of life due to implants and prosthesis. Therefore, my digital artifact will look at the development, impacts and benefits of technological prosthesis. It will challenge the negative notions through examples of individuals in need or opting for cyborgisation. The hope is to debunk this fear of the MANBOT and redefine societal understanding by demonstrating the crucial role technology has in aiding human existence.

Prosthesis has been around for thousands of years, since ancient times people have used objects to amplify/extend their capabilities. Wars, poverty, environmental disasters, uniqueness, change, individualism, to name a few, have seen objects become supplements for certain body parts. Over the last few decades, technological advancement has led to a new era of prosthesis. This has seen a massive change in the way in which prosthesis has developed. Before the 20th century, wood and metal where two of the main products used in created artificial limbs, materials unable to replicate the full natural function. Even today “current prostheses on the market are impractical, expensive, non-ergonomic and at times, painful for the user,…However….The time is ripe for these technological advances to benefit the industry and the lives of prosthetic users”.(Gerardo Montoya, 2017).

The market is constantly changing and evolving and with the acceleration of new technology comes new innovations. The below video depicts Bob Walsh, an amputee experiencing some of the newest technology available on the market.

There are also individuals seeking to redefine what is accepted as a normal prostheses, Neil Harbisson (whom i mentioned in my previous post) was born color blind and uses an antenna to turn color into audible frequencies. The antenna allows him to interact withe world in a whole new way. 

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(Image Credit:-TED TALK)

Another example is Rob Spence, Toronto-based filmmaker. who replaced his missing eye with a prosthetic, completely equipped with a wireless-transmitting  video camera. “Thanks to a partnership with RF wireless design company and a group of electrical engineers, Spence created a prosthetic eye shell that could house enough electronics in such a small, confined space” (Tangermann, 2017).

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(Image Credit:- The Eyeborg Project)

In the midst of my research I realized I needed to invest more time into the academic literature available , A Cyborg Manifesto proved helpful in my research by creating a framework between man, machine and animal through a boundless relationship,  rejecting a distinct and restrictive definition. “The Social Meanings of Prosthesis Use” a paper by Craig Murray , a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Manchester has been an asset to my work. He conducted a series of face-to-face interviews with individuals to see the social role the prostheses would have on the user, the social meanings it carried and the emotional impact it would have on the individual.

Human beings are innate at defining the other. In western society our supreme definition of the human body is never projected as someone missing a body part. It is ingrained into our collective thought, to label, categorize and define something or someone as lesser then us due to this difference. Aimee Mullins, is an athlete, activist, actor and a proud owner of over 10 pairs of prosthetic legs. Aimee is also a double amputee of both her legs since the age of one. Her story is one of inspiration and persistence, but more importantly she is a strong advocate for re-shaping the way we define the other. Her aim is to dissolve the boxes, challenge and exceed societal boundaries and redefine the way in which we view people with disabilities.

In conjunction with the above research, I am currently in the process of establishing group interviews (family and friends to avoid ethical problems) where I will use visual stimulus of different types of technological prostheses and record the reactionary response to determine the attitudes currently held by people directly unaffected. I think it will add an interesting layer to the project. My aim is to show technology as an effective tool in enhancing life and helping to re-define the way in which technological prostheses is viewed.