MAPPING THE MATRIX: THE DESERT OF THE SURREAL
• I organized this multimedia symposium to "hack" The Matrix, on the very weekend of the release of the first sequel, The Matrix Reloaded.
• This event offered no novel technological aspects, but it did decide to hack a popular film, just for the intellectual fun of it! And, the media and audience's reaction was both surreal and hyperreal.
• Of course, the film is loved and loathed (especially by many critics and professors), but rather than merely revere or rant, the panelists hacked the many meanings of the film, illustrating why it tapped into the millennial cultural zeitgeist around the world.
• Panelists included William Irwin (professor of philosophy at King's College and editor of The Matrix and Philosophy, one of the best-selling philosophy books of all-time), Read Mercer Schuchardt (New York University), Elisa Durrette (Futurist, FedEx Kinko's), and myself.
• With literally zero budget, promoted only with single press releases, the event generated wall-to-wall media coverage in Philly — front page story, plus feature in the weekend guide of the Philadelphia Inquirer; radio interviews on PBS affiliate and others; and even Anderson Cooper joined the hyperreality by interviewing me on CNN. Yep, the event was in "the Matrix."
• Held on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia on a Saturday afternoon, the event played to a standing room only crowd (125+); the audience was extremely diverse, ethnically and demographically, including teens and an 80-year-old couple, who took many notes and dressed very much like Trinity and Neo (or they were fans of the Bauhaus school of fashion).
• The intellectual energy of the crowd was rather startling for a symposium on a college campus; all the panelists were quite impressed with the enthusiasm of the audience. During my presentation, an argument broke out between two audience members over some of my interpretations of the film!
• If you want to know my thoughts on The Matrix, here is my paper from back in the day: Bullet-Time and Two Big Bangs.