Apple Inc. has been at the forefront of revolutionizing our relationship with technology since its inception in 1976. The iMac changed the game in 1998, which effectively set the tone for Apple’s standing in modern society with subsequent innovations such as iTunes (January 2001), the iPod (October 2001), the iPhone (June 2007), and the iPad (April 2011). They’ve all irrevocably changed the landscape in regards to how we incorporate technology into our day-to-day routine to consume media, connect with each other and, most importantly – to create shortcuts in a time where 24 hours in a day is no longer enough.
It’s sobering to think about how difficult our existence would be without the studious efforts of Northern California’s Silicon Valley or Taiwan’s Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park or worse – how irrelevant we’d be.
Think about it – how difficult would it be for you to do your job or maintain relevance in any given industry without the use of the Internet? Would it even be possible? But it’s even scarier to imagine our future as our over-reliance on technology continues to innovate exciting, and at times, unnecessary advancements just to shave off a few seconds of our day. And where does technological advancement out of necessity end and personal greed begin? Just imagine where we’ll be 10 years from now.
As technology continues to progress, society and inventors have become increasingly obsessed with the idea of Artificial Intelligence and the immeasurable benefits that we’d reap from it. Like Apple Inc., filmmakers have consistently kept an eye on the evolving symbiotic relationship between man and machine. From Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) to Alex Proyas’ I, Robot (2004) and most recently, Alex Garland’s sci-fi home run Ex Machina (2015), there’s been a keen understanding that AI may pose a bigger threat than any perceived solution.
But it doesn’t take a major Hollywood production to get the point across, and Australian filmmaker Ariel Martin accomplishes just that with his strikingly morbid short film The iMom. Set in the near future, The iMom makes a direct connection with Apple’s famous branding and film’s persistent coverage of the philosophical conundrum surrounding technological excess.
Robots have become easily accessible in Martin’s world, with public consumers obsessing over technology’s latest feat – the all-too-affordable iMom. iMom is the go-to solution for parents overcome with professional responsibilities and personal ambitions, stepping in as a surrogate mother that can seemingly nurture children in their absence. The iMom centers around a distracted mom (Marta Dusseldorp), her son Sam (Karl Beattie), and her newborn baby girl. Presumably self-absorbed and too focused on frivolous social gatherings, Sam’s mom unceremoniously tends to his bruised emotions after a fallout with a school bully, but ultimately leaves him in distress with the company of the family’s own iMom (Matilda Brown).
Martin masterfully weaves together a short that examines the irreversible harm that automation and our reckless desire for it can cause. He interchanges between the story surrounding this family and clips from a late-night advertisement that showcases the iMom’s capabilities accompanied by testimonials from satisfied clients. Seems honest enough as these couples express their fears of being inadequate parents and explain how iMom improved their home life, until the shocking truth slips out and they express their desire to go clubbing over changing diapers.
The iMom takes an expectedly dark turn as Sam and his baby sister are left alone in the care of a machine. Sam’s reluctance to accept iMom as his guardian melts when a blackout strikes the neighborhood and he’s forced to take comfort in her embrace. His mother’s detachment leads Sam to disconnect from normal familial bonds and connect with another form of technology in her absence. But as the story often goes, every technological advance has a pitfall, or in this case a horrific glitch, that can ultimately destroy the life we’re so anxious to enhance.
“iMom will haunt your dreams”
-Katharine Trendacosta, iO9
“Potent, insightful and affecting, Ariel Martin’s The iMom plays with robot tropes in a way that would make Issac Asimov raise an eyebrow.”
– Adam Mock, Film Inquiry