About a foresight of an unexpected catastrophe
by Nana Bee
In the early summer of 1997, in his studio and living room in Queens, NYC, Louis Wang always ignored my cry to go out for a party. He was so eager to complete his CG animation for a festival.
During those days, he was like having a sensor in his body, the occasional beep drawing him back to the desktop to check on the rendering. Sometimes in the middle of night, he would suddenly wake up from his sleep, sit in front of his computer and start to be busy. His 486 computer kept running for 24 hours, with a small fan right beside it to do cooling service. This treatment is considerable to avoiding machine overheat. In those days, I was still a computer dumb. I have no idea about what he was working on.
On a hot evening, he stopped his work and walked with me to the nearby grocery store to buy ice beers and chips. It was our weekly happy hours. He would at least give himself a rest for some time. When we sat on the doorstep eating chips and drinking cold beer, he told me a story about the human catastrophe.
He said there might be a day when all the jobs in the world will be replaced by robots. Human beings began to think about their real value in a society. I tilted my head and thought about it. It seems boring to do nothing, but it seems that I can do many things in no time.
He went on to say that such an evolution is likely to lead to the disappearance of human beings on Earth.
I asked him ”where are human beings?” He said that they may be murdered by machines. Humans will experience a catastrophe.
This story is so unromantic for me as a love story writer. I don’t know how the brainstorm of science fiction is generated. I turned my eyes and said that there would be no such thing. I can’t imagine what it would be like just that in my brain. He pulled up my hand to get me up and excitedly said to me, “I’ve put a vision of that in visual!”
So in late summer of that year, I saw the birth of this show reel that have made he reversed his sleep day and night, often forgetting my existence. Through the presentation of this artwork, he began to tell me the story again, and I immediately took back what I have said about the unromantic things. I think it can be both a romantic and sad story. I hope however it’s just a story rather than a real thing,. It feels like that the price is too high to experience.
Twenty three years later, there are many changes in the world. Many conventional jobs have been replaced by machines. The scientific and technological life makes people simplify chores, but it also reduces the opportunity of deep understanding, and more time to waste online. Public adopt the ostrich mentality that takes everything not happened before eyes as a hoax. Even though a few people are strongly calling for the importance of environmental protections, human beings still muddle along and take advantage of others.
However, because of overwhelming from COVID-19, the fate of human beings has changed all over the world. Almost the whole world began to lock down and live in isolation. The virus has taken away a lot of lives, until now, humans are still fighting against the virus. However, in the day of locked down, the world seems to be silent, and the nature is slowly resilience.
This virus has brought a lot of new recognition to humans world. In the days when the isolation has not seen the end and the death toll is increasing, the way of human life on the earth has begun to “new normal”, and many phenomena in science fiction movies are arriving to contemporary reality one by one.
Wang’s 1997 animation seemed to predict that in today, 23 years later, people will enter the asylum, carry out life reorganization and wait for the opportunity to return. It’s just like the anime of Akira predicted Tokyo in 2020. Can we just say that these visual artists have some vision to the future? Or their brain were wired up differently?
I asked Louis Wang to dig out this old video with story that he told me long time ago, presenting to this generation. It is expected that in such a story, in today’s situation, we can reshape a phase to adjust pace of life towards better future such as embracing the natural things, maintaining the fraternity to the society and launching a healthy lifestyle.
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