The line between seductive illusion and grotesque imitation is easily blurred. Few forms of depiction elicit stronger positive and negative reactions than recreations of human appearance. At different times in history, entities that mimic human beings have captured our collective imagination in various forms: Frankenstein’s monster, human-like automatons, the cyborg combining machine and human forms, and more recently virtual characters, have all been the subjects of fascination, suspicion, as well as repulsion. The paradox is that these creations walk a fine line between reaching new heights of acceptance and plunging into a chasm of eeriness, or, what roboticist Masahiro Mori called “The Uncanny Valley”
The project ‘The Valley’ addresses the idea of virtual presence through computer generated virtual figures that mimic human beings at their most basic: simply existing and breathing. The figures reflect back to us shifting notions of what constitutes authentic experience in the age of avatars, virtual environments, and other forms of mediated interaction. Watching the two videos, viewers have found themselves matching the breathing rhythm of the two figures, in turn mimicking these unreal characters.