Archivo | octubre, 2013

Perversity at the end of the world

29 Oct

In the movie Until The End of The World (1991), director Wim Wenders presents his vision of the future, which is primarily focused on how the ability to see is perverted by technology. I will deal with how technology plays a perverse role in two aspects of this ability: The seeing-all ability presented in the surveillance theme and the seeing-inside ability presented in the introspection theme. I will argue also that both of these extreme ways of seeing confluent in the technology that Sam is hiding. Finally I will explain that rather than providing more connectivity, which was its first goal, this technology disconnects people from each other and the world.

The seeing-all ability presented in the surveillance theme is not a government privilege (like in George Orwell’s 1984) but an economic one. Shown through the different kinds of tracking devices such as the one that Philippe has and the one that they have access TO in Russia, information is available for everyone with the money to buy it. Hence, the privacy of someone is potentially available to everyone.  Assuming that information is power, there is not A proper central power but a continuous fight for it, which in the context of The End of the World is chaotic. The movie presents this chaotic fight for information and power in the first part of the movie. In that part Claire follows Sam, Eugene follows Claire, Philippe and Burt, who works for the CIA, are chasing Sam. In this kind of context, no one can be trusted. Every piece of information Claire finds is immediately known by the other PEOPLE. As Sam says to Claire: establishing a relation with her is dangerous for him. It is not until they reach this hidden place in China, which was unknown to them until they arrived there—and therefore for the others—that they connect WITH each other and start a relationship.

Finally the dream recorder or the camera for blind people reveals itself as the ultimate technology for surveillance because it makes IT possible to have access to memories. It makes memories a piece of information that can be stored, sold and traded in the market. Intimacy with one self is no longer possible; the only relation that was still safe becomes dangerous.

The self-seeing ability is linked to two technological elements: Claire’s video camera and the device to record human dreams. Once again we encounter the capacity of materialize memories and store them in a device. Although both of them are kind of external memories— an external repository of the images that Claire experiences during her road trip and an external repository of dreams— it is only the act of recording dreams that is fully introspective. While recorded experiences have Eugene as their final receiver—we can argue though that there is some kind of personal satisfaction in showing ones experience to another–Claire’s recorded dreams are only directed to herself. Introspection then is fully presented in the second part of the movie, when Claire among other characters is affected with the disease of images.

As in the surveillance case, the dream recorder reveals itself as the ultimate mechanism to disconnect from reality. In the context they are in (The end of the world and a culture that privileges vision overall), the ultimate place to escape to the past. Not the objective past, which is in a way a share experience—or example some traditions and cultural rituals, but the subjective past of our memories and dreams. A kind if solipsism takes place in this disease. They are dune to see during the day what they dream at night and to dream at night what they see during the day.

To summarize, the movie deals with the ethical aspect of technology and its extremes.  The author´s intention is to show that although technology can be created to do well, its uses will never be fully foreseeable. Devices can be misused and allows for perverted dynamics once it is in the hands of the users and in specific contexts.