Mankind's ability to tap Nature's power has recently achieved such success that a new world is suddenly emerging, an artificial reality.
-- Benjamin Woolley, Virtual Worlds

The fantasy is that we can somehow transcend our horrible condition of being human through these shining black boxes.
-- Jaron Lanier

Synthetic Pleasures begins with a montage of images which takes the viewer on a high-speed trip through natural landscapes, cultivated landscapes, simulated theme park jungles, indoor beaches and ski slopes, etc., before finally penetrating a computer screen to reveal a digitally-enhanced virtual landscape, a glowing simulation of the natural forests and beaches which initiated the sequence.

An opening narration considers the human drive to control nature and to overcome the limitations it imposes upon us. Some of the film's key interviewees are introduced, each elaborating upon the idea that we have recently entered a new technological era, an historical phase where technological innovations have given us access to seemingly unlimited powers of transformation. These powers include the ability to transform:

  • Our environments: virtual reality, synthetic environments from the
    shopping mall to Biosphere, etc.
  • Our bodies: genetic engineering, plastic surgery, etc.
  • Our identities: smart drugs, mood-altering drugs, etc.
    • The final section of Synthetic Pleasures deals with broader perspectives on our relationship with technology, where this relationship is taking us and what its implications will be for the future.

      This four-part schema will serve as a guide for the greater part of the film, a loose way of organizing the film's investigation of often inter-connected, cutting edge technologies. Interviews will provide technical information, but will emphasize the influence of technology on human experience and question the implications of having access to so much transformative power.

      Synthetic Pleasures relies extensively on both images of technology and
      technologically-produced images. Ambient and techno music will provide the soundtrack.