Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Twilight Zone, The Uncanny Valley and Rod Serling on Creativity

I've been at home with the stomach flu for the past three days. I have a ton of work piling up around me, but all I can bring myself to do is watch episode after episode of The Twilight Zone on Youtube. I have been a fan of TZ for as long as I can remember, but I've fallen back into love with Rod Serling and TZ in a big way recently. Here is an amazing picture taken during the production (I'm guessing?) of my all-time favourite episode, The After Hours, which involves mannequins coming to life, and a hidden floor of a shopping mall. Also, the episode was shot in 1960, and the episode's lead (pictured on the left, with her mannequin double on the right) looks exactly like the first Barbie doll, that would have been released less than a year earlier in 1959.

This photo also reminds me of a theory I learned about recently called the uncanny valley. It is a robotics theory that determines at what point humans become repulsed or "creeped out" by robots that look like humans. I would say that the mannequin definitely sits in range of the uncanny valley, without making the episode remotely unwatchable.

Not entirely unrelated, here is a video of Rod Serling in the late 60s or early 70s speaking with students about writing for television, specifically about creativity and working with ideas. Everything he says could be applied to making visual art too, and it's all fine advice, even if at times it is a little "dad-like." I believe my own father said "if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it" to me at some point within the past month...!

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