issue 4: introduction
“The feeling of belatedness, of living after the gold rush, is as omnipresent as it is disavowed.” - Mark Fisher
“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.” - Alvin Toffler
There’s an episode of the British TV show Black Mirror where characters can store, access, and play back their memories using a small prosthetic implant behind the ear. People use the technology to revisit past sexual encounters or to bitterly scrutinize small social interactions. Naturally, things (d)evolve into terror. The jealous boyfriend character spirals drunkenly out of control. His jealousy is only affirmed by the data, and he eventually gouges out his own prosthetic in the episode’s Oedipal finale. The scenario isn’t hard to imagine--or the premise, anyway. It’s a much more human take on memory technology and “time travel” than some of Hollywood’s more common depictions.
Memory is treated somewhat similarly in the overlooked 90s cyberpunk movie Strange Days. Here, a prosthetic called a SQUID imprints experiences from the user’s cerebral cortex onto something resembling a mini disc. The memories can then be replayed, and felt, by others. The discs function as currency in an underground marketplace of vicarious experience. Strange Days’ horror operates not in the personal realm of obsession, like the Black Mirror episode, but with the implications of an enabled, transactional voyeurism gone wild. The film’s villain, an unknown crazed pervert, uses the SQUID to record a string of POV rape-murders.