Work Title: Brainstorm
Medium: Film
Episode Title:
Year: 1983
Writer(s): Philip Frank Messina
"Original" Writer: Yes Writer(s): Bruce Joel Rubin
"Original" Writer: Yes Own work?: No


Scientists Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher at her chain smoking best) and Michael Brace (Christopher Walken holding down his mad dog thing) develop a method for recording lived experience on holographic tape which can be then played back directly inside someone elses head. Going far beyond the modest ambitions of a computer generated virtual reality environment, the process produces the effect of total immersion in anothers thoughts, feelings and full sensory experiences. The potential and intended uses are all very commendable for the first time, people would have the opportunity to really be able to understand each others points of view and ways of seeing the world. However, in keeping with the history of representational technologies, someone very quickly records the experience of having sex, and someone else works out how to play it back to themselves on permanent loop. And in a scene guaranteed to make you all feel good about your own rubbish parenting; Christopher Walkens son manages to plug himself into a military recording of what its like to be horribly tortured. (from

Era/Year of Portrayal: present_day

Distinctive characteristics of the world in portrayal:

Present day 1983.


  • Name of portrayed presence-evoking technology: holographic tape
  • Description of the technology: holographic tape which records lived experiences and then plays them back for a user. It is a little head set with differernt tapes of various experiences. It is mobile - you can use your headset anywhere, and the tapes can be transmitted online. Although the headset is worn similairly to a headband, the quality of the experience is extermely vivid and real- you can see, taste, feel everything. Your viewpoint is the same as when the experince was acually lived.
  • Nature of task or activity: sex, flying, roller coasters, memories, death, torture, anything can be done that can be physically done.
  • Performance of the Technology: works very well.
  • Description of creator(s): 2 scientists. A white woman in her 30's or 40's and a white male scientist, in his 30's or 40's.
  • Major goal(s) of creator(s): entertainment, fun, and to sell for a profit to consumers.
  • Description of users of technology: Scientists, men and women of all ages. Other people working for the company that builds it and then, eventually, the military. Unfortuanelt,y once a teenager uses it, with a negative effect. He experiences torture.
  • Type(s) of presence experience in the portrayal: both
  • Description of presence experience: Very realistic and vivid. They experienc eeverything just as a person would if acutally living it.
  • User awareness of technology during experience: Yes.
  • Valence of experience: Enjoyable if meant to be enjoyable, terrible if not. Although someone uses the sex tape for 24 hours and is negatively impacted.
  • Specific responses: Well, it is very enjoyable when meant to be and extermely horrible when meant to be. Extremely vivid. When someone dies and records it, the person who views it also dies. People on a roller coaster feel as if they are on it. A person being torted really feels as if being tortured. The person who uses this tape experiences a physcotic break.
Long-term consequences:

Bad. The miliary takes over the project and the scientists end up destoying thier creation so that the gov can't use it for negative ends.


Coder name: Amanda Scheiner
Coder email:
Coder affiliation: Temple University