There is an analogue life in the digital

The computer in the movie Part 3: People in the computer

Computers usually play in the film a supporting role. Where the lead role is assigned to you, we learn a lot about our visions and inert in the age of microelectronics. In a multi-part text series, films are considered on how computers are displayed in them. This third part deals with people who disappear in their computers.

Part 2: Ghost Processes and Killer Applications

The compatibility of human body and machine is a popular topic of technology philosophy and cybernetics. Already 130 years ago, the philosopher Ernst Kapp had stated that machines merely represent prostheses of the human body. In this covers, he is thinker like Sigmund Freud, Marshall McLuhan and last bruce Mazlish. The latter represents the evolutionary and cultural development of man even in direct dependence on the machines:

We understand that man and the machines he created together, and that we help us and functional models of 'thinking machines' to better understand the operation of our own Gehrin. For a long time, our pride and our refusal were to acknowledge this togetherness, the Namboden for a deep miomaceous opposite technology and the entire industrial society. But ultimately such a mi-trust (for which there is good reasons, as long as we see the machines as a little strange, and not as their own, controllable chopping) on the refusal of man, his own nature to understand and accept – that he is a living thing is a continuum with the tools and machines he builds.

Mazlish speaks the reason for that "mutual", which has already met us in recent articles, again. This mistrust dives potentiated in films that represent the "association" of man and computer as given. An example provides the director David Cronenberg, which stages together as an organic fusion of technology and man in his film "existence". There he has a machine or. a game, designed, which looks like a outsourced organ and is connected directly to the human nervous system via the spellor of the player. Cronenberg thus develops a motive, the origin of which in the film is at least in the 1970s.

There is an analogue life in the digital

Where the human body and the machine have shared interfaces – and in principle, each interface provided for the input and output is there on the computer "for humans" – computer films often see the possibility that the user could disappear in the machine. This input in the virtual space of the technology shows in three gradual gradations: First, several movies play around the motive of the hacker with the idea that man or or. its spirit itself through the net move and visualize this movement. A second category of films addresses a symbolic penetration of man in the calculator by generating a (virtual) reality for him, which he can immerse with the help of certain gadgets (VR helmet, data-glove, data suite, …) but in which he is also held as avatar without self-confidence. And finally there are such films that describe this penetration as an involuntary fall. In these films, which usually act from video games, the human being velves spirit and body in the machine.

I. Hacking

"Hack the Planet!"

In 1995, the Internet is still almost exclusively of academics and students, the data centers of the universities is that a full-time access to the network can. But already before there are networks that can be achieved via the telephone line and a modem can also be available for private individuals. The movie Hackers also comes from this year. He meets the history of the youthful computer criminal dad, who as a child (in the 1980s) under the Nick "Zero Cool" due to burglary in foreign networks to a "computer ban up to the 18th. Birthday is sentenced. The main plot uses when the boy has "served" the punishment. He is still hacker, now under the pseudonym "Crash Override", and moves with his him single mother to New York.

There he gets access to a peergroup, who is working with computers and to which the hacker "Acid Burn" is located. The hacker group is pursued by a prosecutor, which in the computer youth the terrorists of the 21. Century sees. As a dude in the company network of an Olforder company breaks and copied a directory with files from the trash to its hard disk, it discovers that there is a computer virus with which a sabotage should be carried out with devastating consequences. The security officer of the company, the hacker "The Plague", is the author of the virus' and thus becomes the powerful enemy of the group. Oberdies now also switches on the Secret Service and the FBI in the case because it succeeds "The Plague" to connect the youthful hackers with the sabotage virus.

What imagines "hackers" among hacking, could be quite compliant with the ideas of the openness about this crime type: a community of freaks concluded in itself, which does not follow any other ethics than its own, which is in the ideal competition and everyone Computer and every operating system knows in- and memorally. This amption correlates with the presentation of computers and networks. We see gleaming and flashing server barriers, glued conductor tracks and animated flights through any cables and computer housing. The tenor is clear: Computers are everywhere and always prasent and who dominates them, there is all available information. The youthful hackers a social-compatible ethos succeeds in succeeding the film until the criminal discourse leaves the purely virtual sphars and turns to terrorism in the form of a threatened tanker host. So it needs an "interface" to break out of the computer into the "realitat".

"I Just Have To Know"

Trackdown from the year 2000 almost the same story as "Hackers" – was temporarily even under the title "Hackers 2" was distributed. Again is about a hacker: Kevin Mit. He penetrates – because he can, or. Because he "wants to know" – in foreign networks and enriches at the expense of third parties. He also discovered a program in the stolen code of a telephone company, which can do a tremendous damage – also programmed by the local security officer. And again, a hunt begins in which the hacker is pursued by the state power and its counterparty. Director Joe Chapelle, however, saves its spectators the computer graphic visualization of "virtual crime". Fifs after "Hackers" you are already "in the picture" about how the internet works. Therefore, the technical details of the film (FTP server, closure software, Sendmail protocol, …) are no longer explained, but how self-consumed used.

The "penetration" in the system is now only an intellectual – with "hackers" one had the impression as a spectator more than once the impression, the spirit of the hacker hike herself through the networks, which were presented as a computer-graphic animated city. "TrackDown" is disrupted in the imaging of hacking in order to represent the interaction of man with the machine in more and faster intersections. This and the extreme close-ups insulation that the computer is already "fused" with man "merged" that the spirit of the hacker and the internet represent a shared network. In this network, the investigators in "TrackDown" can only be tinked by taking advantage of a last vulnerability of the hacker imagination procedure: he can not distinguish between the "real" and a simulated network, because both look the same for him. This is how the hacker succeeds the supposed evidence (the polluting program code) instead of taking it on an internet server. it uploaded directly into the Datennirwana.

Every Trace of Our Existence is computerized

Both "hackers" as a "trackdown" draw a technological conflict, which is always a political. In both films, the hackers marked as anarchists contribute to a state power that they do as terrorist, dangerous and unpredictable. At the same time, the warnings are based on the mistrust of the youth and the technology associated with their associated technology as well as a longing for control over the room. This room has expanded its Euclidean dimensions. It has been an infinitely coarse virtual subspace, to which only those access that the "sesam open is open", the password, the know-how. And like the real room (as in Jon Amiel's "Copycat", which is paid by a Klaustrophobiker with internet connection) even smaller – the virtual space is widening and offers new opportunities.

That the actions in the virtual room have an impact on the real, is not only self-resistant, but also sense of hacking. A film like the The Web created in 1999 shows how scary these effects can be: there loses a programmer after you get to a floppy disk with an ominoses program, translating "population to realitat". Your driver's license will be laughed, your social security number, your entry into the registration sign register, etc. Reality and virtuality are closely intertwined in "The Net" and have double-sided influence. In Hans-Christian Schmid's 23 from the year before, a "computer freak" victim of this border manifold is again. He gets into a first theory of conspiracy theory, which then gets very real consequences for him and finally results in his death.

Ii. Virtual realitate


At the beginning of the second category of computer films describing the entrance of man in the virtuality, a TV film of Rainer Werner Fassbinder is. The 200 minute "world on the wire" was built in 1973 (after a novel of Daniel F. Galouye from 1965!) and does the history of the computer scientist quieter. This is set in the "Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research" on the place of his friend Vollmer, after this died in mysterious way. Vollmer and now Stillers work is the design of the program "Simulacron", in which a virtual reality with already 10.000 avatars is being developed. This is supposed to allow statement on social and economic development, on the other hand – without the programmers know from it – a test field for new products.

There is an analogue life in the digital

world on wire

Vollmer seems to have a strange discovery, which first cost him the mind and then life. Because quieter was one of the last ones who have seen him alive, he stated in the circle of murder-supposed. But he also happens strange: Witnesses they are swallowed by the ground and after some time even nobody remembers the murder who has disappeared himself from the newspapers in which he was previously reported on him. In the Virtual World of Simulacron, Siller then discovers Avatars, which look like the disappeared and murdered people. One of the virtual persons betrayed quieter that even his world is only a simulation world. He now suspects that Vollmer and the witnesses of his murder were simply "joined programmed" and is looking for an exit to the "real reality".

The realitat goes over everything (virtual)

A satisfied act that would not have been due to the spectator of the 1970s not lack of imagination. Not only is a fee quite complex, fass binder is also very back with the staging of technology. From time to time, server rooms are shown and a video wall showing scenes from the simulation world. These can be seen in their coloriness (compared to the simulating world). The difference of this simulation in turn to the right world is optically but not so clearly marked so as not to betray the viewer in advance that something is wrong. Another mental anchor for the viewer is the discovery of the simulation. The characters speak of the worlds in the categories "top" (real-level level) and "below" (simulated level).

This will, about the interesting topological thinking of reality (SStfen), is also a metaphysical level. "Top" is the god world of programmers and users. At fassbinders, however, these are "devil" in the word sense: confuser and confusion. They construct realitate and tinker consciousness classes that are not sure about their status and are threatened with "routing programming". Stiller is equipped with philosophical basic knowledge and begins soon Plato's and Aristotle's ideas-teaching to think through and compare it with his situation. The Descartes doubt, who garnishes to him, is also ethically reinterpreted several times: On the one hand, the (Kantic) question is raised whether "avatars" with such differentiated consciousness at all "means for the purpose" is thirst, or whether this is not the Human picture of the declaration contradicts. On the other hand, the fear of "possibility" in the room is, as self-determined, man is still against machines, which, like "Simulacron", the "Jump to the Autonomous Computer" (quote!) have already done?

With the Cyberpunkt …

The lawnmahermann

Especially the cyberpunk-subgenire very popular in the 1980s in Science Fiction attacks this question. It is often about the basic ethical and epistemological conditions of the Conditio Humana in a full-length computerized world. Basic motif of literature and film that can be attributed to this sub-genre is the conflict between the positive possibilities and the negative consequences that the technology brings with it. This contradiction to the center of his reimbursement loses the lot based on a reproach Stephen Kings-based film "The RasenMahermann" of 1995. It is again a computer scientist, Dr. Angelo, who is between the Muhlen of Cognitive Foundatory Research and – this time – military abuse.

The lawnmahermann

After he has announced his place in a military research project, which wants to convey with the help of computer-produced virtual reality monkeys to war machines, he researches in his cellar. When he gets to know the mentally recovered Rasenmahermann Jobe, he finds a new trial caninally in him: Jobe should be made intelligent with the help of the VR. This succeeds in an impressive pace, so that the militar will soon be interested in researchers again for research and offering him to continue them in the substantially coarse plant. The scientist accepts and thus accelerates the training jobs for another. But secretly, the militaries of the consciousness-expanding drug that must be injected before each learning unit has a serum for the increase in aggressiveness. And so Jobe will not only be incredibly smart, but also incredibly Bose. The development culminates that he who gets PSI abilities will give up his physical existence and continues to exist in the computer network in order to dominate the whole world from there.

… and cyber-Christ in the Cyber-Holle

There is an analogue life in the digital

The lawnmahermann

In this plot, much of the fishing and hopes associated with a new technology like the virtual reality. Your blessing, environmentally independent experience and processing of information can quickly become a curse, because jobs always coarse knowledge ("more information about everything", he asks) mundet to flee in the addiction from the realitat into the virtuality (one addiction, which is very well known today. That this dependency is induced not only psychological but also physically, is shown in the "Rasenmahermann": mimic by data growth and gloves as well as a body bearing with the computer controllable space position not only the mind, but also the fuhlen is controlled. This reveals how much the generation of the virtual realitat actually has a goal actually: the real body. About him as an additional "learning channel" the mind is to be controlled: "The virtual realitat is the key to exploring human consciousness," is Dr. Angelo sure. But as so often, what was meant well, too bad: believe the prognosis of the Damonian lawnmaherman who prepares his cyber existence and rule, the additional freedom in slavery is said: "Until 2001, no Human being not connected to this network."


The most outstanding feature of the film is the way he stages the virtual realitat: with a immense use of computer graphics. The virtual room is drawn in the most dazzling colors. When Jobe ultimately exchanges his physical against a virtual existence, he becomes even a metaphor: it comes to the final showdown between him and Angelo in a virtual room, which seems to be considered as an interface. Jobe tries to find an open I / O port after drabs, but the input / output is denied him. When Angelo wants to surprise him to give up this project, he slings him to the virtual cross. The film is not arm of religious imagery: Jobe calls itself sometime as a "cyber-Christ". Religious, especially Christian motifs are often part of the computer film and range from simple hints (an important password in "Hackers" is "God") to complex erlissomyths (see below "Tron" and "The Matrix"). More interesting is that here again (as in "world on the wire") the input is marked into the virtual reality as a descent. There are always tunnels and swirls that visualize this descent. Plato's hollow parable is in thought experiments for the virtual realitat so currently like anyway and ever.

There is an analogue life in the digital

Welcome to the matrix

Ontological confusion between realitat and virtualitat is the topic of most films in which people disappear in the computer / life. This is not just because the hottest in front of technology in this motif find their worst pronouncements (we lose our minds, our body and our usual physical world), but that this motive is very similar to the medium film. He is a Hybrid from realitat (a Barthes "ES-IS-SO-'S") and virtualitat created by manipulations such as kadrage and assembly and help us to think of ourselves in the history. Movies that show computer-generated, virtual space (not "mapping"), but exceed the realitat of the filmed object: what is shown in it is physically never as we have been looking at the camera. It is a pictorial data stream. Our "Inlay" in the movie is then already a temporary in the virtual room of the CGI.

There is an analogue life in the digital

Numerous films have used the computer-generated virtual reality for their repayments for conspiracies and dystopia. The Thirtenth Floor of 1999 is also based on Galouyes Roman "Simulacron-3", which was based on "world on the wire". Here, however, (still) is insisting on the questions on the ethics of cyber beings and the epistemology of "level change". The thought experiment of the brain in the tank of the American language philosopher Hilary Putnam has found its most versatile and popular equivalent in the first part of the "The Matrix" trilogy published in the same year. Here, all elements of a "man in the computer" payment are processed, philosophically (if perhaps sometimes sometimes a bit too flat) prepared and even the Christ or. Erlostom myth can be found in it. That a movie like "The Matrix" could be so incredibly successful may be just in his (blanking) mythological calculation, which is short before the end of the Millennium (at least if you put this on the annual break 1999/2000) subliminal like very realished wrinkled.

Iii. Computer games

Meanwhile in The Real World ..

But we go back twenty years from the millennium change. In 1982 one of the most innovative computer films for the time of the time appears, Tron, which asks a for this time important question: How to introduce yourself to a computer? Not the external, gray plastic box and the screen with the light signals on it, but its intangible inner life, the electrical processes? Which pictures are suitable for the abstract metaphors of the program, the interface, the file superimposed? At a time, since computer has the home and especially the children's rooms have conquered, especially for the parent generation not unimportant question.

There is an analogue life in the digital

And "Tron" offer a very objective answer to it. Little Computer People are the ones that populate the calculator. This computer is the central arithmetic unit of the company "Encom", which has recently been dominated by a "Master Control Program". The MCP is an operating system-like meta program and monitor the functions of all other processes in the computer – but above all the interfaces that go into the world in the and from the computer. The MCP, however, is threatened by an "independent monitor program" called Tron, with which the company employee Alan wants to make the traces of the invisible processes visible. The Tron project is therefore shut down by the MCP.

There is an analogue life in the digital

In addition, the former company employee Flynn is busy brick by Encom to get the proof of it (back) that the most lucrative program, the game "Space Paranoid" (SIC!), belongs to him. The truth about his authorship is still hidden somewhere in the system and so determine Alan, Flynn and her friend Lora to break at night at Encom and penetrate into the computer. The MCP is prepared, however, digitizes over a novel, experimental interface Flynn and "sucks" in the computer. There he sees himself exposed to the despotic volunteer of the MCP. Programs of all kinds who do not want to volunteer faith in their "user" will be interned and destroyed in an electronic arena of gladiators in video games. As Flynn to recognize as a user, the programs TRON and YORI (a program Loras) break together with him to get to an interface, from where they receive a code of the User's Alans, who finalize the rule of the MCP final completed.

"He is a user. Eliminate him. End of communication."

Anthropomorphization and thus visualization of electronic processes (even "yes / no" bits fly through the computer world), is surprisingly implemented in "tron" on for the time at that time. Half CGI and classic animation, half realfilm, the movie explains the viewer one in the Freudian sense "Eisy" world, which at the same time seems very familiar and yet extremely foreign. This world struggles in structures and appearance and (some) residents of ours and can serve as analogy. In the computer is a small town. As in "hackers" and other films, straws, household appliances, citadels, and other metaphors of the system and with functional analogies are provided between real world and computer world. That you can be lost as "user" in such a world, it seems to be self-relative how to move into the straws of a foreign city.

"Tron" is in many lucide, describes virtual phanomena, which will be real only two decades. The Tron program is provided with the attributes of one package filter and Trojan, the MCP has functions of an operating system and a firewall. Oberdies uses the history of Flynn and Encom Technical Historical Basic Myths. It is paid by garage companies, software ladies and the video game boom ("Space Paranoids" ahnelt in the title even the tabled space). The world in the computer is described with the most colorful terms: The MCP complains about his slave driver Sark: "Programs fly with a stolen simulation by the system!"And as these programs (Tron, Flynn and Yori) at their destination, the interface Dumont (once again a Christian metaphor: Dumont is a holy mountain, to which you travel and from its summit you receive a" beam of the truth "!) Are Arranged, Raunt This Refrigerated: "All That Is Visible Must Grow Beyond Itself, and Extend Into the Realm of the Invisible."

Right in the middle there instead of just

There is an analogue life in the digital

In "Tron" is computer-played – but this means for the anthropomorphic game programs to find themselves in an electronic circus arena in which they compete against their existence against each other. When the programmer and "professional players" bottled Flynn in this world, it is also about life and death. What "Tron" describes as a very real fall into the computer world corresponds to the asthetic strategy of immersion. Which represents for players brought by the stimulus, acting on outdoor, especially on parents and preserving padagogows as the big danger: that the player "loses" in the game, no longer refers to the reality and the real world confused with the game world – which especially In case of violent games of the worst excavations attracted. In 1983, the Episode The Bishop of Battle shows from the film "Nightmares", how to imagine more active player life in the worst case.

There is an analogue life in the digital

The Bishop of Battle

Here it is a typical video game kid of the 80s: J. J. is considered a hero of the arcades and has already made a name as an invincible player. Only a game, the "bishop of the fight" (there it is again, the Christian motive), he has not tried yet and reached his legendary, thirteenth level. So he breaks in the "Game-O-Rama" at night (as the arcade in the movie is called) and plays the game successfully until the end of the 12. Levels. Then the machine breaks together, the vector opponents, which were still in the game before, fly at once through the arcade and open the laser fire on J. J. He first successfully resolves, but in his escape in a dead end, in which the "bishop of the fight" is already waiting for him. The next morning the arcade is more resourceed, but the collapsed game set stands again and on his monitor see the shocked present (to which just J. J. Parents obedience), like J. J. As a vector graphic in the depth of virtual scope disappears.

"Are we still in the game?"-" That's more than a game "

You do not have to lose a word about the subtext of this short film. As a new generation of young people grow in the Ident of the 1980s, which no longer has a spab at the realitat. J.J. If house arrest gets because of bad school notes and shades the Arcade in the evening, his girlfriend tries to surprise him to an ice life. Such a thing (real!) He does not do it for a long time. He prefer to continue playing. But the movie suggests: The game plays in reality with him. J.J. Exploses the immersion effect, nothing else means his fall (again this is shown graphically as a strudel) in the game world. Immersion is optically well prepared: First we see the game in plan view (and the real environment around the machine). The camera always adheres to the screen until his edge disappears and the playing field tilts and continues to tilt until it is shocked in the horizontal. This can be read as: The film changes from an auditorium to a point-of-view perspective, from the overview of a stay one.

There is an analogue life in the digital


In the already mentioned film existence (1998) David Cronenberg redefined the immersion as a bio-electric asthetics: the nervous system itself is linked to the computer and visions arise from the game directly in the consciousness of the player. The change between the worlds Cronenberg has staged perfectly using the cinematic assembly: In a moment, the player still looks at his real environment, with turning his head blurred to the scope. Computers do not dive into "existence" even more than technical, but equally as bodies that can be sick and dying. The last difference criterion between the microelectronics and the human body is thus thrown in this utopia so onboard – the confusions and conspirations are thus soffneted. Consequently, "existence" ends after which the game in the film is in advance, with the question of whether one may still be in a game.

Transcultural virtualitations

That the escape from the reality into the game world can also be quite intentionally intended – especially if the realitat is much more unattractive than the virtuality – shows the Polish-Japanese co-production Avalon from 2001: There she has the player Ash in one of the forbidden video games, which are played in underground arenas made a name as an invincible heroine. The (real) world of Ash is marked by half-dilapidated hauser, Tristing everyday life and disgusting food. In the video game world, all (color) is initially one-toning, but there is a virtual struggle to fight for alliances with other players and therefore experiencing a lot. In the game world, ASH stabbed on hints of an experimental level that she seeks to achieve. This level – this is the clou of the movie – looks like the realitat outside the movie "Avalon". Nothing is more sepiagetontone, there is a luxible life, art, color, music, advertising, … for the viewer, this level looks like the world outside of its cinema. Welcome to the perfect simulation: reality.


Also from Japan and the same year as "Avalon" comes the film St. John's word by visiting a game graphic designer with her ex-boyfriend's abandoned house of her childhood. There they do not only discover several motifs of the childhood reminder of the designer, but also stobers on striker phenomena. They horen that someone lives over them in the house, finding finally secret space and then corpses. Most recently, onto the Bose twin sister of the programmer. The motif inventory of "St. Haunted House" Horrorfilm. John's word "turns out to be found in the end as video game plot a la" Alone in the Dark ". Even the strange coloring and assembly of the film has the suspicion dedicated that here is something else behind the events than what the (show) show players. In addition, the designer already had telephone contact with the incurable developers during the entire film, which once even designed a fast (!) Floor plan of the house and otherwise know what they could not know about the "laws of reality". In the end, this counsel is lost as all sitting together in front of the monitor and congratulating themselves to the successful finished game – to which the designer even contributes an alternative end. Everything was just a game and we – the spectators – believed it was one motion pictures.

From the computer as a playground to the computer as a war showplatz

The few films presented here (there are several more) have already shown how people and machines come into contact with each other, in which the dangers and the chances are seen. The thing according to quite a common thing is in these films for ontologically based conspiracy; Interestingly, but not infrequently violence and war are a central motif. Aggression can be exaggerated in virtual, without having real consequences. War can be played in the computer as a game. Power can be practiced by artificial people without the morality suffering. What can vote for our everyday experience, however, is questioned in these computer films, problematized and intemed.

The next part of this article series will devote to the topic "Computer and War" in the movie in detail. Movies like "War Games", "Starfight", Terminal Entry "and others address the war as computer phanners and turn on the films considered in the past texts. For all the hackers, players and network criminals become valuable soldiers and the computer themselves an unpredictable composite or opponent.

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