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Google Glass meets Blade Runner in this futuristic dystopian short film

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

If you've ever seen Blade Runner, you know that a common vision of our potential dystopian future involves lots and lots of color, light, and advertising — a kind of visual synthesis between the cultural and corporate landscape.

Now talented design artist Keiichi Matsuda has brought that vision home in the most jarring way possible: by pairing the concept of a corporation-saturated existence with the idea of augmented reality. His new, visually intense short film Hyper-Reality brings the ad-crowded, over-automated internet into the real world.

And the results are deliciously creepy.

The short, which was filmed on location in Medellín, Colombia, concerns a world that's become a constant cyberscape, a whirl of app-generated color. Our heroine, Juliana, is a drifting woman who's been working as a "Job Monkey" doing quick tasks for people in her instant world — a kind of hellish future for anyone who's ever worked for TaskRabbit, Uber, or a similar company in today's "gig economy."

Instead of being driven by internal motivation, Juliana is primarily motivated by the step-by-step instructions her always-accessible internet feeds her, as well as the points she earns for doing basic everyday tasks. Without her points, her life lacks meaning — which isn't exactly a good position to be in when things start to go south.

In short, Hyper-Reality imagines a world where Google Glass is implanted into everyone's brain — a kind of Harrison Bergeron for our virtual future. Given the immense strides the virtual reality industry has been making toward injecting VR into our daily lives, it's probably good that people like Matsuda are asking the harsh questions about what the cumulative effect of all this integration could be.

If nothing else, it's a good reminder that "flashy" isn't always better.