Art and Exploration

Virtual Reality Reflected in New SyFy Offering Caprica

As has been stated ad nauseum, the success of the film ‘Avatar’ has firmly cemented (at least the concept) of what an avatar is within the minds of a global populace. And of course the penetration of 3D worlds is ongoing, seeping more and more into spaces and subcultures (stamps, anyone?) than ever before.

Avatar was more of a presentation of the avatar concept rather than a comment/critique on virtual worlds, but there’s a new show on the SyFy channel that is aiming to take a more thought-provoking look at what it means to be an avatar and what effect virtual worlds have on the real world. The show is called Caprica, and is a prequel to the recent Battlestar Galactica TV series.

The show’s jump-off is sensational: the lead character’s daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing, after which he (Dr. Greystone, played by Eric Stoltz) learns that his daughter was heavily invested in some nefarious virtual world pursuits, including violent fantasies and sexual desires. Stoltz uses the “Holoband” technology (essentially, 3D goggles) that he created to enter this world.

In a video piece on the SyFy site, people involved with the show delve further into what this virtual world means. Mark Stern, Executive Vice-President of Original Programming at SyFy, notes that the Holoband is “really just a half-step forward from this idea of being able to jack yourself into a virtual environment,” indicating that the fictional world is not far removed from the real world. The show has created deeply realized worlds of gaming, porn, clubs and hedonistic places, but educational spaces are notably absent. “We don’t really delve too deeply in them, but I’m sure there’s other places where you can go to school and learn things,” he said.

Of course, in the wild frontier of the programmed future, kids wreak havoc. “Naturally, the kids have hacked it,” says Eric Stolz, “and its full of rooms with every possible stimulation, not all of them healthy… Dr. Greystone is shocked to see it corrupted into violent use and pornographic use, and was not at all his intention, like so many things that have been invented that start out as one thing and become something else.”

The show also touches on themes of content management, as from this scene when Dr. Greystone says, “We thought we could control the content in the v world, especially for kids, but we have failed, clearly.”

Here’s the full video:

Caprica Video



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.