Perceived realism meets familiarity and human likeness in the uncanny valley
Barter Theatre introduced “Uncanny Valley” on Thursday, April 6. The production runs until April 30 at Barter Stage II, staring Sean Maximo Campos and Mary Lucy Bivins.
Originally coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970, the term “uncanny valley” describes a strange revulsion or unease toward things that appear nearly human, but are not. This freaked out feeling is usually geared towards robots, but can also include computer animations and animatronics. Consider that animation (in a movie or video game) that looks so realistic, that it nearly tricks the eye into believing that it is seeing actual human beings on screen.
Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose says, “we’ve come along way since Mori’s essay, impressive progress has been made on the simulation of the human form–the skin, the movement, the looks and gestures and so on.” Rose adds, “Barter Theatre’s production begs the question, what does it mean to be human? Will these non-biological humanoids be perfect? Or perhaps infused with our own wonderful idiosyncrasies?”
On stage, “Uncanny Valley” is a jaunt into the future where Claire, a neuroscientist, forms a relationship over time with Julian, a non-biological human. Explore the painful divide between creator and creation and the inherent unpredictability of consciousness as the production redefines what it means to be human in the twenty-first century.
Tickets for all performances begin at just $20. Barter Theatre is currently offering three productions for just $99 until April 28. The three for $99 subscription comes with subscriber benefits including 15 percent off additional tickets for friends and family. To purchase tickets, please visit bartertheatre.com or call 276-628-3991.
Barter Theatre, the nation’s longest running professional theatre, is located in Abingdon, Virginia. The theatre opened in 1933 during the Great Depression. Founder Robert Porterfield offered patrons admission to the theatre by bartering food and livestock. Barter Theatre was designated as the state theatre of Virginia in 1946. It exists today as one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters remaining in the United States. Barter Theatre is funded in part by The Virginia Commission for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.