Hollow came out of thoughts I had about my everyday internet experience, in which data seems to stream into my brain as if through an intravenous drip. I open my laptop and suddenly email, web searches, random advertising, and social networking all roar in, filling my mental space like a noisy highway and leaving less and less space for fragile developing thoughts and fleeting memories. It’s essentially reshaping my brain’s transactions and, one could argue, ultimately changing who I am. I obsessed over this idea, this web brain experience, and it tumbled forward, shaping into a character named Iris, a young woman who is trying to survive in a future world where this kind of data exposure is peaking. I imagined the future web as more aggressive and personal, having lost most of its anonymity and privacy. This felt like a small stretch from today, as our growing dependence on the web will almost certainly be paired with challenges to its overall security. Corporate and government surveillance will expand, as well as tracking and profiling systems. As all prosthetic devices (computers, cell phones, etc.) become vulnerable to hacking, powerful interests will find other ways to secretly move information. I was irresistibly drawn to this imaginary future with new industries, new opportunities, and unlikely “heroes.”
As scientific understanding of the brain will progress, Hollow extrapolates that technologies will enable us to erase and introduce detailed information. This individual encryption may be the last respite of anonymity. “Neuro?messengers” will function like “data mules,” a futuristic parallel to drug mules. Young unemployed women will find themselves becoming data transport vessels and selling their brains in order to survive. Iris is exploited, partially because of her economic and immigrant status, to become a “neuro-messenger.” But despite this tragic setup, Iris kept reminding me of her youth, her resilience, and her choice. I became intrigued with figuring out how to honor this loss and gain, respecting her compromise, and seeing within this big picture, one woman’s small but powerful choice to secure and create her own future. She may be a pawn in the hands of powerful interests, but she is a victor in her own personal survival. That dichotomy seemed compelling and real to me.
Lisa Robinson's Hollow is now streaming here.
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