The Fear in KARA – Is the Android Alive?


How far can we go in artificially changing the human body and still be human?

And what about the concept of being? When are we aware?
Introducing Kara, an android in a short movie, made to showcase the engine of the Playstation 3 by a design company called Quantic Dream.

This small video reveals a question however, greater than how far we’ve come in graphic design and visual programming. It questions the very fabric of existence.

In the video, Kara is assembled and given standard questions to check that her programming is in place. She then requests to know her creator’s motives for creating her: “I am merchandize?” followed by “But I thought…” The video then goes on to show Kara crying, frustrated, and in the end, frightened exclaiming “I am scared!”. We cannot, at this point, argue that Kara is not aware. She is emotionally awake, feels impulsively, and obviously is outside of her standard programming. But is she alive? Is she human?

The work “Being and Nothingness” by Sartre, describes that a human is different than an object, because it has the ability to objectify the other. A human has the ability to provoke feelings in others, and to become the judge of others in the meeting with them. Sartre’s prime example of this is the ability to feel ashamed. This simply translates to Kara’s feeling of shame when the other sees her naked. This does not strictly make her human, because Kara is only a subject able to be within the other’s objectification of her.

Following this strain of thought, Kara exclaims her fear and the other decides to send her off without destroying her. Kara is, in the eyes of the other, humanlike, alive.


Sartre, J – Being and Nothingness, 1943

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2 Comments on "The Fear in KARA – Is the Android Alive?"

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Katrine Winther Kristensen
Thank you for your contribution Cecilie, I think it’s thrilling to withdraw existentialism in the context of the posthuman. Both as a perspective on the ethic dimission of the posthuman but also because the posthuman is bringing something new to Satres thoughts about what constitutes a subject and a object. Maybe the posthuman force us to reflect on what constitutes a human? The video you shared makes me think about what it takes to make a robot feel familiar to us? Is it when it on the surface looks like a human or do it have to act and feel… Read more »
Eva Krarup
Eva Krarup
In a way I think this short movie poses some of the same questions as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that we are going to read some excerpts from later on, not only questions about the creator’s control over what is developed and about feelings and consciousness in relation to fabricated existence, but also some interesting ethical questions concerning the humanity of the creator. Isn’t the creator the one who is represented as the least human/humane here? I think it is a good example of how the posthuman in art/game design can make us reflect upon our own humanity and (as Katrine… Read more »