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It’s Saturday night, and I’m standing on a high barstool next to the table. I use my knee to nudge a casserole dish into frame. I’ve whipped up a social media-worthy meal of tomato pie, firecracker grilled chicken, corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and one of Ina’s fresh peach cakes for dessert—and I can’t quite get the camera lens to take the spread in all at once.
Visualize me teetered precariously on my perch, iPhone raised high, tapping a circle on the smooth screen, trying to generate a suitable arrangement of digital pixels to immortalize a meal that in minutes will become masticated history. Look at me: I’ve become a performance-art commentary on our modern enslavement to virtual reality.
Foolishness - Temptation - Lives - Subservient - Radiohead
We laugh and shrug at our own foolishness, but there is a daily temptation to make our real lives subservient to what Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke calls our “little avatars.” In an interview with Zane Lowe, he lamented, “We have started to emulate what our devices say about us and emulate the way we behave from that.” In Anima, a Netflix short film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and released in conjunction with Yorke’s latest album, Yorke enters the machine in hopes of awakening us to real human connection.
Anima opens on a subway car; passengers clad in drab industrial grays nod in a dazed state as the train shuffles them through the underground. A woman in the back of the car wakes, making brief eye contact with a bleary Yorke. The connection feels awkward. Unpracticed. The blips of “Not the News” lull them both back to sleep as every passenger moves in synchronized restlessness. Yorke’s voice opines, “Who are these people? / I’m in black treacle...” When the train stops and the car’s contents pour into the station still nodding off sleep, Yorke recognizes a...
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