Infinite faces for sale.
Part 2, VR edition
Thinker Mark Rowlands says that philosophy comes from a crash from what’s outside and what’s within: what I see and what you see, my ideas and yours, conscience against body. Tinder and Virtual Reality (two digital age novelties still being analysed) make us re-valuate these distances: within, an infinite catalogue of possible romances; outside, a geek like the one on this GIF, shaking his arms. Outside, a legion of guards talking to us about authenticity, like Rock FM listeners or teenagers who read Heidegger. Within, worshippers of that technological solution against which Evgeny Morozov warns us: technology will free the whole world, even love.
If on a former GIF we saw this supermarket of seduction from within, here we have the other side of the coin: we don’t know what he’s seeing, but we see him engrossed in an infinite search. With GIFs such as this, digital apocalyptic folks (the same ones that fill Facebook with kids looking at smartphone screens) have the key proof against the modern human being: could romance be more impersonal and less romantic? Will we all turn into idiots flirting by doing wild gesticulations?
The GIF was made by Tom Galle, an awarded Belgian creative and “internet artist” who lives in New York, and it first appeared on his Instagram profile, which, in being so ironic and delirious, could belong to any solvers’. But no: this GIF is a gag in which Galle forces the parody bringing it closer to the actual reference, as if the virtual sex of Demolition Man was a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Since I’m not into irony, I’m going to take sides for a moment with that hypnotic virtual Tinder. Yes, Galle is playing dumb here, but the dedicated face he imitates (the same we all pull on our first encounter with VR, even the most convinced neo-luddite) also tells us something about our capacity to for surprise. Sixteen years ago, George Ritzer wrote about the charm of a disenchanted world: a tired, technophile disenchantment, more centred on the stage machinery than on the stage itself. With VR we retrieve that first impact that disarms us, a charm without mistrust, without a making of. Is that not what happens to us when we fall in love?
Galle is making fun of the outside of the virtual world, but tell me if love and sex are any different on the real world: from within, we are the last of the romantic and passionate lovers; from the outside… I suspect that there wouldn’t be any technology available to save us from looking ridiculous.