Sunday, June 01, 2008
Nothing Up My Sleeve
Do you remember an old television show with Bill Bixby called "The Magician"? He played a crime fighting entertainer who used illusion to unmask the criminal or in self defense. Not a great show. However, each episode had the disclaimer: "All illusions performed here are done without special effects or deceptive camera work".
Our technology has become so sophisticated that it has reached the point where at times it can threaten our ability to suspend disbelief. Consider this: if you saw a video of a flying saucer, one where it looked amazingly real, wouldn't you just assume you were watching something put together by George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (the special effects company that worked on Star Wars?)? If you gave me photographic evidence that Jon Zech was in fact Stewart Sternberg, wouldn't you just assume it was the work of someone talented with Photoshop? I mean, if you didn't know me better, you would think that the picture of me at the "last supper" was doctored.
In an age where anything and everything is possible, where long dead actors can be convincingly dropped into new video digitally, where skillful manipulation of audio can effectively put sentences into someone's mouth, where genetic manipulation of material can call into question DNA evidence.....who can believe anything they see, hear, touch, or smell?
For writers of science fiction and fantasy, such paranoia is a rich treasure trove in which to dip our literary hands. For readers, the connection between storyteller and audience retains its integrity. At a time when no one can be believed, the one who offers up fiction is perhaps the only one to be trusted.
Posted by Stewart Sternberg at 6:36 AM