Review: In ‘Upload’, Are Blockchains The Electric Lizards Dream Of?
When briefly “paused”, the father learns that something failed with the upload; He should have suppressed the trauma of his wife’s death, but not ruined it to make her grieve for eternity. He wants to end, an irreversible action that only his daughter can take.
If that dilemma doesn’t feel completely forced or earned, it’s because the daughter never develops properly. She is presented as curious about her father’s new look, but it is hard to imagine anyone feeling more in her place than in shock or anger. Instead, he is only shown in various states of mourning. (And it might as well be a New York-centric fixation, but how could this young lady live in an airy Tribeca penthouse with a garden terrace?)
May it be for the best, that we never see his judgment. Parallel stories lead to parallel endings: the past, the night before Father’s upload, and the present, the night before his possible ending. In a surprise coup, a white curtain rises out, suspended above the audience. Projected on it in split screen are father and daughter. Although on opposite ends of the stage, even on different planes of existence, he is presented lying head to head.
As he goes to sleep, we have Father’s memory anchor, a dream digitally presented – the green of the earth green, the blue of the sky. Everything we’ve heard is there: stone, warm to the touch, comfy lizard. But the image occasionally flickers, defaulting to the drafting software’s 3-D line drawings, until the resolution degrades into soft areas of color. Only the sound of wind and birds remains.
It’s a mysterious final scene, but not one that requires an answer. Whatever happens next, someone or the other will be forced to live with the pain of loss. And it seems that no technology can spare us that fundamental human experience.
at the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam through October 8; OperaBallet.nl
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