ghost in the tweets

Made by Katherine Martinez

retell ghost in the shell from a contemporary medium

Created: November 9th, 2015



The story I chose is set in a world in which humans are deeply integrated with technology, such that some humans are nearly entirely cyborg with only their brain remaining organic. It was also written in the early 90's, and the cultural anxiety over technology and losing our self-identity to machines is strongly reflected in the questions it explored. Twenty years later, no one would say that we are at the kind of integration Ghost in the Shell describes, but I think we are still more strongly tied to our digital selves than we could have imagined a few decades ago. 

Our online personas are often curated and perfected, but inevitably they become a digital footprint of ourselves. The content we feel is worth following and sharing is indicative of our own identity, regardless of how hard we try to remain anonymous. While Ghost in the Shell asks what happens when machine resembles man, I'd like to take a more contemporary turn and ask what happens when social media resembles man.

To experience the story, log in to Makoto Kusanagi's twitter account. 

Username: mkusanagi_gits

Password: gitskusanagi

*Images to be added for easier access.



Initially, I was inspired by Twitter fan accounts that retell and expand on stories through interactions between profiles. This is such a common occurence on Twitter that there's even a section in their terms/help detailing what is allowed. Fan/parody accounts are usually humor based, though depending on the content can step past parody into role-playing. I definitely wanted to depart from pure humor, though I wasn't sure if Twitter was the right medium for telling a story with as heavy philosophical implications as Ghost in the Shell. 

*For those unfamiliar with this movie, here's a quick summary for you:

Ghost in the Shell is a cyberpunk-y anime movie from 1995, centering around a public security agent, Mokoto Kusanagi whose body is almost entirely cybernetic. She and her team investigate a elusive hacker, only to discover that the hacker is in fact a sentient program, originally created through a secret government program. The program hacks its way into a cybernetic body, and considers itself a "real" life form. The agent, who has already been grappling with issues of identity and real self given her mostly computerized form, is drawn to the program and the questions it raises.


Before making any decisions about how I would tell the story, I watched Ghost in the Shell in its entirety. While it's not feasible for everyone reading the documentation to watch the movie, I recommend at least watching the clip to get a feel for the ideas behind it.

Ghost in the Shell (1995) My favourite scene
Leonsio Ananda -

I then created Twitter accounts for 3 of the main characters in the movie:

Motoko Kusanagi - an agent of Section 9, who is almost entirely cybernetic save her organic brain.

Batou - an agent of Section 9 and friend of Kusanagi. He is at least partially cybernetic.

Puppet Master - a sentient being formed from a government computer program being exposed to a massive stream of information/data 

Burner emails were used to set up the accounts, as well as screencaps from the movie itself and brief exerpts from the script.



Definitely one of the stronger points of this work is the choice to create these accounts on Twitter, rather than simply mocking them up. I made conscious decisions to have these accounts follow/retweet real, external sources, to suggest the interactions these characters might have with the real world.

Kusanagi's account retweeted research on AI, biocomputing, and other subjects that reflect both the original character as well as my retelling version's fascination with identity and the merging of the human and technological.

Batou, who plays a support role in the plot of the original story, also takes a subdued role here, following only Kusanagi and relaying information between her and the supposed rest of the organization.

The Puppet Master account is the most interesting, and follows any account its suggested. While it engages with both Kusanagi and Batou, it also has engagement with the "real" world outside of my retelling. (It even picked up a couple followers!)

The moment of understanding that Kusanagi has as she merges with the Puppet Master are relatively unclear in this retelling, though I might argue that it was somewhat ambiguous in the movie as well. 

I still feel like this work might be a little cheesy, but I think the deeper thematic elements outweigh the cheesy Twitter profile aspect.



Translated Script

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retell ghost in the shell from a contemporary medium