Book part: The Trauma Machine. Demos, Immersive Technologies and the Politics of Simulation
This essay critically examines digital simulation scenes or “demos” as a tool that is telling something about the truth of the world with the aim of making it unstable. Following Farocki’s take on war trauma therapies treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with responsive and immersive technologies, it makes the effect of a demo on human subjectivity apparent. From there, the essay traces the design of these technologies back to the first video simulation experiments of the Architecture Machine Group at MIT in the 1970s: the Aspen Movie Map, in which race and gender play a critical part in conditioning spectatorship. Looking at the role of demos in urban planning, the implications of this tool become fully visible.