Ruled by Algorithms: Keiichi Matsuda’s ‘Merger’ Sheds Grim Light on the Future of Work

today2023.08.02. 74



Delve into the compelling world of technology and its profound impact on our work and lives through the thought-provoking lens of Keiichi Matsuda’s latest short film, “Merger.” In this stimulating article, we explore the unsettling questions raised by the film, challenging societal notions of productivity, self-worth, and the potential consequences of our obsession with efficiency.

Keiichi Matsuda’s stimulating short film, “Merger,” delves into thought-provoking questions about the future of work in the face of advancing technology. Set in an augmented reality workspace, the film follows an unnamed consultant as she grapples with the prospect of being outpaced by machines and considers the radical notion of merging with the network, shedding her human form in pursuit of omnipresence and ultimate productivity. This unsettling message challenges society’s perception of work and self-worth, highlighting the potential sacrifices we might make to maintain a sense of usefulness.

Merger by Keiichi Matsuda

Matsuda draws inspiration from the convergence of several trends, including the rise of algorithms, the automation of work, and the prevailing cult of productivity. As the protagonist navigates her augmented reality desktop, the film effectively blurs the line between work and social life, reflecting the growing interconnection of our digital existence. The claustrophobic nature of the interface, filled with to-do lists, news articles, and chat messages, amplifies the urgency to optimize and gain an edge in an ever-competitive world.

The evolution of the protagonist’s interface throughout the film symbolizes a journey toward intimacy with technology. The initial utilitarian design evolves into a more tranquil and serene experience, symbolizing the protagonist’s desire to transcend the human-machine boundary. The film skillfully captures the allure of productivity, showing that despite the potential dangers, many are drawn to a world of relentless achievement. Speaking to Verge, he adds: “We don’t feel like we have agency over the outside world, but we do feel we have agency over ourselves,”

While some may find the augmented reality desktop dreamlike rather than menacing, the underlying message remains clear – our innate desire to be productive can overshadow deeper reflections on the purpose of our work. Matsuda’s hope is that “Merger” will serve as a tool for introspection, encouraging viewers to contemplate the “why” behind their actions and the kind of future they envision for themselves.

“Merger” serves as a thought-provoking exploration of our complex relationship with technology, work, and the pursuit of productivity. It encourages us to pause and reflect on the broader implications of these advancements and the true meaning behind our endeavors in an increasingly digitized world.

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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