Paranoid Data: Pre-Millennium Tension in Film
We have officially made it to Blade Runner times – November 2019 – and while there might not be replicants walking among humans (as far as we know), we are in a different kind of frightening reality. In the ’80s and ’90s, the unprecedented rise of computers and information sharing led to intense speculation about the unknown effects technology might be responsible for, which in turn produced a wonderful pool of collective creative anxiety and anticipation for filmmakers to draw inspiration from. Technological potential was massive, but not fully understood and mostly unregulated; this, combined with great science fiction stories and a new age of special effects, iconic and classic films emerged that still hold up today.
Paranoid Data is a weekend-long offering of cult classics and rarely seen films that offer a small window into the ways in which technology, data, and the human body were thought to be affected and influenced by each other. As the world was figuring out what a human relationship to these rapid advancements would resemble, so too were filmmakers, often in endearingly clumsy ways to the modern eye. These films peer into a uniquely human relationship with machines that were ostensibly developed as extensions of ourselves, pointing to the landscape we find ourselves in now.