The Uncanny Valley, Interior-Design Edition

Now you can explore Jerry Seinfeld's apartment ... through virtual reality.
Greg Miller

The "uncanny valley" usually applies to human aesthetics. It describes that vague sense of revulsion you get when you see a fabricated person—a robot, usually—who looks aaaaalmost human … but not quite. So, for example, this lady. This dude. Anything displayed here. The "valley" refers to the emotional reactions humans have toward anthropomorphized machines, when those reactions are charted: It's the deep dip in comfort level we tend to experience, based on our finely honed survival instincts, when we humans come face-to-quasi-face with beings that are at once extremely like us and extremely not. 

I mention all that because of ... Seinfeld. Or, well, because of pseudo-Seinfeld. You know Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset? Now there's a 3-D version of Jerry's apartment, created for the platform by the OR designer and Seinfeld fan Greg Miller. Which means, as On the Media put it: "Anyone with an OR headset can download his project and sit around pretending that they're talking about nothing." 

It also means that there is now highly unscientific evidence that the uncanny valley hypothesis can be extended beyond its original meaning and applied to the aesthetics of physical spaces. Because "Jerry's Place"—while it is impressively detailed (look at that photo!)—is also undeniably creepy. And also, arguably, a little bit sad. Either way, it hovers in that real-but-not-real space that is so perfectly captured by the term "virtual reality." 

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Technology

Just In