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Earth (42)

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Published on Feb 19, 2017

The Answer To The Meaning Of Life, The Universe And Everything @Tate Modern

Earth (42) by Tom Estes, The Switch House, Tate Modern

Earth (42) by Tom Estes was inspirred by a storyline in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be “42”. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was. When asked to produce The Ultimate Question, Deep Thought says that it cannot; however, it can help to design an even more powerful computer that can. This new computer is revealed as being the planet Earth- and that it will incorporate living beings into the “computational matrix” and will run for ten million years.

Estes work is also inspired by the extraordinary vision of the Simulation Hypothesis and it’s bizarre Twilight Zone twist. It was first published by Hans Moravec in 1988, pushing the boundaries of imagination, science and digital-effects technology. In 2003, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper that proposed the universe we live in might in fact really be a numerical computer simulation. The mind-twisting Simulated Reality hypothesis suggests that reality could be simulated—for example by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from “true” reality, and we may in fact be in such a simulation. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from “true” reality. The paper exemplifies the idea that a sufficiently cool outcome justifies all of the tortured narrative it takes to get there.


Earth (42) was shown at Tate Modern as part of YOU ARE HERE: MATERIALITY, MOVEMENT AND MAPPING...

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