Upload Your Mind Into the Metaverse

Upload Your Mind Into the Metaverse

Story by Andrew Nguyen / Photography by Robin Berglund
Mar 13, 2024

It sounds like a Black Mirror episode: consciousness being uploaded into virtual reality. But these days, that doesn't seem far off from reality. Photographer Robin Berglund explores the increasing presence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives in his latest editorial, "My Soul Burns As My Consciousness Is Uploaded to the Virtual Afterlife."

One image, for instance, contains a syringe with a mysterious acid green liquid — another has an entanglement of cords and cables that could be plugged into some supercomputer that collects data from humans. The model has a plastic arm throughout the story. It all reaches toward an overarching idea: What would happen to us if we were to stop thinking for ourselves or were told what to think by computers?

But what about the whole "burning soul" thing from the title? Berglund explains that the concept of a soul burning is often used metaphorically to describe emotional or spiritual experiences, or as a poetic way of expressing the feeling of consumption by strong emotions. "My intention was to evoke a sense or feeling of emptiness and vulnerability for the soul, the brain," Berglund tells PAPER. "In post-production I played around with AI to enhance this mood as well. The idea of the set design was to create a 'cage' of which you would wonder who is the human and who is the AI."

See what a future dominated by AI and virtual reality might look like, through Berglund's artistic lens, below.

Photography: Robin Berglund