Throughout history, artists have leveraged technology to push the boundaries of self-expression. From the cave paintings at Lascaux to the mass-manufactured pop art of Warhol to the computer-driven CGI of Hollywood blockbusters, artists have consistently found ways to wield new tools to push the boundaries of creativity.
Today, this trend continues at the intersection of artificial intelligence, digital audio/visual media, and emerging mediums such as VR and blockchain. These technological developments have ushered us into the era of synthetic media, opening a new creative frontier for artistic exploration and commercial applications.
Synthetic media is the catch-all term for the rapidly expanding universe of digital objects and experiences generated with input from artificial intelligence. One form of synthetic media being pioneered at Metaphysic is hyperreal synthetic media, synthetic videos that are highly realistic and often indistinguishable from digital content captured on cameras.
The term “hyperreality” was coined 40 years ago by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who conceptualized it as “the generation of models of a real without origin or reality.” Baudrillard’s exploration of hyperreality was remarkably prescient, describing a reality that has never existed but that simultaneously blurs the line between reality and its simulation.
At the time Baudrillard was writing, the technologies we now associate with the creation of hyperreal objects — computers, the internet, AI, VR — were still in their infancy. But the foundations were emerging and even in the early 80s, it was clear that it was only a matter of time until these technologies could deliver on their inherent promise.
That time has come. Over the past few decades, the cost of compute power has plummeted, more than half of the world has come online, the application of artificial intelligence in our phones, cars, gadgets, and video games has become commonplace, and breakthroughs in the development of AR and VR have made these technologies increasingly accessible to the general population.
The proliferation of advanced technologies means they inevitably become part of everyday life, which has the effect of causing those technologies to “disappear” from our awareness. We don’t think of the smart toaster or internet-connected thermostat as the vanguard of an emerging internet of things, they are just a toaster and a thermostat. We don’t think of Siri as an artificial intelligence so much as an application that uses audio commands to deliver information. Photoshop was once considered revolutionary technology but today the use of highly sophisticated photo editing apps is mundane.
Although hyperreal synthetic media is currently turning heads because it represents a new technological milestone — as the global delight around Metaphysic’s recent DeepTomCruise videos demonstrates — its rapid development and proliferation suggest that it will soon become commonplace in our lives.
In fact, many people who are not directly involved in the creation of synthetic media are usually surprised to learn just how much of it already exists. From photoshop and social media filters, to the tools behind Hollywood movie magic and video games, synthetic media has already begun to seamlessly integrate with the existing media environment and vanish from our conscious awareness.
This is a positive development insofar as it enables deeper engagement with the content itself, rather than focusing on the technical marvel of its production. But it can also make it difficult to appreciate the incredible work being done by creators of synthetic media at both a technical and artistic level.
At Metaphysic, our mission is to build the future of hyperreal synthetic media as the engine of the metaverse and the next generation of digital content.
From avatars and NFTs to Hollywood movies and innovative advertising, we’re building AI technologies to help creators and companies move beyond the uncanny valley to generate hyperreal experiences and identities that people love and deeply connect with.
In this series of Synthetic Snapshot posts, we’ll explore how synthetic media is already changing the world and how hyperreal synthetic media will further transform the future of the metaverse, film, music, content creation, and advertising.