PRINT September 2012

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Tim Griffin on art and artifical life

Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, 1982, 35 mm, color, 117 minutes. Rachael (Sean Young).

CLASSIC WITHIN THE GENRE of science fiction is the figure of the replicant, or android—a wholly synthetic being who is nevertheless, for all immediate intents and purposes, distinctly human, possessing the capacity for emotion and memory, and even for a kind of personal evolution while navigating the ever-shifting terrain of lived experience. And yet more definitive of this figure, within the narrative paradigms of science fiction, is how he or she is nearly always subjected to a melancholic twist of fate that introduces an irreparable fissure between engineered and organic worlds. At some point, that is, the replicant becomes aware of the utterly fabricated makeup of his or her very being and the pure invention of the most intimate memories; following these vertiginous revelations, doubt as to the nature of experience itself, or as to the very idea of a veridical world,

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