Synthetic Pleasures


Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1996 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Iara Lee, George Gund, Marcus Hahn, Toshifumi furusawa, Kramer Morgenthau, Andreas Troeger, Stacia thompson, Mike Kandel, Single Cell Orchestra, Haruami Hosono, Antonio Arroyo, Matthew Sigall


Iara Lee's Synthetic Pleasures opens up the much-traversed arena of new technologies and cyberspace into a fascinating exploration of the transforming impact of the Brave New World on our everyday lives. Using a cascade of imagery, reportage, interviews, and special effects, Lee portrays a future that is no longer over the horizon but is with us now, especially in twenty-first- century technoworlds like Tokyo. From virtual reality simulations to artificial beaches and mountains, from advanced plastic surgery to cryonics and cybernetics, from the internet to computer-generated universes and "realities," Lee integrates the full range of the futuristic trends of the technological revolution into this very compelling documentary..

Structured into three sections,"Synthetic Environments," "Synthetic Bodies," and"Synthetic Identities," Synthetic Pleasures offers us a view of both the present and the future and of the desire, often the obsession, that many people have to transcend everyday existence. Questioning, presenting, and exploring the effects of technology on mind, body, and the construction of reality, Lee's work is neither a hyperbolic endorsement nor a Ludditeprovoked critique. Instead, using interviews with such "voices of the future" as John Perry Barlow, cofounder of the Electronic Future Foundation; Orlan, a French performance artist who "adjusts" her body through plastic surgery; Steve Roberts, a self-styled high-tech nomad who traverses the country on his computer-laden bicycle; and, of course,Timothy Leary, Synthetic Pleasures is an absorbrng and informative report from the future.


Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.