23 Nov 2013

Gravity (3D Version)




This is the first 3D film I've ever seen at the cinema. The 3D imaging hurts your eyes as objects career into you retina, or so it seems! Gravity is essentially a day in the life of two astronauts, well arguably three and eventually only one. For me, Gravity is an empty vessel that has very little of any significance to express at all. In fact it is a kind of Cowboy film in Outer Space, with a minimum of characters. George Clooney is problematic as, well a cowboy in Space and Sandra Bullock is little more than useless, apart from her gravity defying gymnastics that are reasonably aesthetic and exhibit some physicality.

Nonetheless, the film is curiously good, although far from fascinating. It isn't the strength of the acting - mediocre at best and it isn't the predictable and, arguably facile storyline, therefore it must have been, at least in part, the effects that enthralled. However, there's more to Gravity than that; Outer Space, isolation, globalisation and multiculturalism in abandoned, fractured space stations! Postmodern? Well, I wouldn't like to say that the writer and director were utilising space travel as a postmodern metaphor, as a film akin to the Matrix may consciously do, but the feelings of isolation and human vulnerability were palpable.

At one stage Bullock's character feels helpless and lost while alone in a space capsule. She turns off the oxygen and Clooney's now deceased character comes to her in a semi-conscious dream. This solipsistic, narcissistic state (dream state) with echoing memories of "authentic" humanity motivate her to begin her trip back to Earth. Throughout the film the characters are cyborgs dependent upon and, potentially destroyed by new technology.

Ok, so "Hal" isn't going to develop consciousness and throw a multitude of philosophical and ethical questions into the narrative, as we saw in 2001; A Space Odyssey. However, Bullock's characters return to a foetal position, for me has echoes of 2001 and the Alien series of films where Sigourney Weaver's character becomes the mother of an alien/human hybrid. In Gravity we witness the frailty of human existence both emotionally and physically. This could be seen as a metaphor for the psychological vulnerability of people living in big cities, spending much of their time in front of screens reacting to media thats only justification is its self. Or money may be more honest, but less philosophically appealing. Baudrillard may have seen reverberations of simulacra in Gravity.

It is worth mentioning Bullock's character's descent to Earth. When she lands in a lake, I assume in the outer-reaches of China, she mistakenly opens the hatch of the space capsule and water, like oxygenless Outer Space, begins to pour into the craft. She manages to escape and eventually swims up to the surface gasping for air. Indeed, there is no escape in Space (nor in cyber space) from the trails and dangers of life. Nor back on Earth, where for all its familiarity and beauty, potential risks lie around every corner. Strangely, there is no welcoming committee to greet Bullock's character; she appears to revel in the isolation, grasping at the soil at the water's edge breathing the air and feeling the warmth of the Sun on her skin. Isolation, throughout the film seems inevitable and desirable.

The U.S. has stopped funding the Space Shuttle for a while now (the Shuttle is pivotal to the film) and, it seems that according to Gravity even in tandem with space stations from other countries (notably Russia and China) the U.S. does not have the power nor ability to conquer even the nearest reaches of Outer Space. In fact, the U.S. may be a victim of its own success, re: the Space Shuttle disasters. When you consider that a stray missile causes great damage to Space stations and the Shuttle in Gravity, both the difficulty of conquering Space and the risks associated with new technologies seem particularly, relevant points.

In conclusion, it is once again worth noting that Gravity is not a "conceptual" film in the sense that it doesn't make any profound points about contemporary life or, indeed about our possible futures. Nonetheless, Postmodern themes are touched upon in a playful and almost incidental manner. Not only do we have fractured subjectivities and fluid identities we also experience fractured proximities. The inability of the U.S. to conquer "local" Outer Space could be seen as indicative of Western decline and the progress of emerging economies. However, for me it points more towards an economic, intellectual and cultural stagnancy rather than paranoia about non-Western supremacy. In this sense Gravity is both Postmodern and ironic and cites isolation and aloneness as implicit to both contemporary life and to our technology-driven futures. Bullock's character is spared by Clooney's character, which appears to suggest the primacy of the life-giver. Nevertheless, ironically her descent to Earth results in near-death and isolation.

 

7 Nov 2013

Question

How does the East view the concept of Postmodernism?  Is Postmodernism a Western concept via Western experience of the West and of the East (or non-Western)?  If this is the case, then how would someone from a non-Western culture or place view their culture and the phenomena of globalisation?  Would the idea of Postmodernism have any relevance to them or would it be understood in a different way?

6 Sep 2013

August/September 2013

Porn advert democracia repetition subsequence
about turn
distance du loin

I wanna be famous
like a Greek sculpture
I want I want post-historia
Immortality

Gay militaria puissance
drone attack apercu
parameter extempore
corporeal asleep/
consciousness

art is measurable
at the point of sale poetry
is an eye looking back
at you

in situ, garnered by loins
competitive reaction
to sanction epistle
Arabesque

Ornee, une touche des femmes

If I look again
will the miasma make sense?
What does this mean to a
point in a turn
a clavicle a point to the sky?

Sooth, my directionless child
weapons are our first choice.

28 Jul 2013

Untitled


Untitled, originally uploaded by crescentsi.

Via Flickr:
:-)
Simon

Thank you to Jessica for letting me use her photo in this image.

faestock.deviantart.com/

26 Jul 2013

On Google Glass

"Mmm!"  "How are you?"  "Well I don't know, all I can see is an alternate reality!"

Google Glass (Google Glasses) are a rather disturbing new product that allows individuals to "wear" a computer (as far as I understand similar to a smart phone) that is built into a pair of glasses.  You actually look at the screen while you look through the lenses of the glasses!  Bizarre? 

I read a Blog post where the author states; "The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else."  Sure, he has a point.  What if you are attempting to discuss something important with the wearer and he/she is distracted by the web, or worse, recording your, potentially private conversation and posting it on the web!  Or, for that matter sending it to Google where they may wish to continue adding to their alleged database of information, see Snowden and spying.

However, for me the ethical considerations are also for the wearer of Google Glass(es).  For example; driving or crossing the road may become absurdly dangerous!  Of course the ethical considerations regarding potential injuries and the use of information/spying and the like, could go on ad infinituum!  But there are other important ethical considerations.  For example; health.  Our bodies and minds are not designed to live in increasingly, artificial environments.  Heart-disease, cancer and other immuno-deficiency disorders, such as allergies and asthma, mental health disorders (from stress to schizophrenia), diabetes, strokes, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease and a myriad of other illnesses are caused by, or exacerbated by living in artificial environments.  Virtually plugging ourselves into a computer that we can constantly view and interact with while living our daily lives will surely increase the incidence of these disorders.  New technology tends to make us lazy, both physically and mentally.  A good example of mental stagnation is the SatNav.  How can we exercise our minds and our memories when we no longer use maps or memorise routes?  Are we contributing to the "time-bomb" of Dementia?

Do we actually want to live in a continual artificial (or semi-artificial) reality?  What are the philosophical and psychological implications of this?  Is it ethically sound to detach ourselves from reality, when reality is full of urgent problems that need addressing?  Should we encourage narcissism and escapism in the young and impressionable, when many young people have difficulties with the most basic of coping mechanisms and comprehending a complex, hyper-real existence.  Will advertising be streamed across their field of vision throughout the day, further blurring the line between fantasy and reality?  Overt escapism from reality is not an adequate way to cope with reality and, where it can be manipulated by powerful, Internet corporations, exploitation seems inevitable.

Finally, a note about the future.  We are, indeed, Cyborgs, interdependent on machinery.  From trains to Smart Phones, to electronic tills in supermarkets, we increasingly rely upon technology in our day-to-day living, where we coped and were capable of being quite content before these inventions were even thought of!  Should we allow (will we always have a choice?) these unnecessary devices to increasingly become part of our perception, our identity and our physical functioning?  How long before some kind of electronic device is permanently worn by the public?  Perhaps woven into our clothes or even attached to our skin?  Of course, this is speculation and still the stuff of dystopian Sci-Fi movies.  Let's hope it stays a paranoiac fantasy.  And let's hope we will always be able to tell the difference.


Simon

13 Jul 2013

Untitled

Time is a car park.  It has longevity....  It has spaces and restrictions, arbitrariness and certainty.  Car parks are illusory yet real.  Car parks are chronographs festooned by a paperchase....  They are stationary as time pieces move, fires sprout from machines like Mushrooms from decay.

30 May 2013

Recent Observations

Briefly, due to time constraints, I wanted to note a few recent observations.  I don't have much time for writing and not much time to contribute to this blog, although I appreciate those that read it and I acknowledge the collaborative history of the blog, when it was a hive of activity.  There are occasional posts and comments from others and I appreciate these as well.

The language I will use will be prose rather than the verbose language that has become de rigeuer for those that write about the artistic, academic or anything else that is, or is considered to be intellectual, on the Internet.  However, I acknowledge the value attributed to appearance rather than substance when it comes to on-line writing, indeed art-bollox and other pontifications seem to count for much these days.  Nonetheless, there are those that consider their audience/readers rather than play the game of "notice me".

The recession, from a UK perspective, is beginning to move towards a period of recovery.  As I posted on "Ideas in Motion", I believe that recovery from the economic downturn will take years and, although on paper we are no longer in recession, from a practical and everyday point of view, we still are.  My opinion is based on intuition, although there are numerous, notable cultural shifts and some economic stimuli that can be observed, some of them I listed on "Ideas in Motion".  For now, the recession is still having an impact on many peoples' lives in the UK and across the world.  However, I believe the seeds of a recovery are being sewn, although they are fragile at the moment. 

It is still too early to reflect on the impact of the global recession in a meaningful way, particularly when we ask what can we learn from this long-term recession that has had an effect upon us all? For now the adjustment to global markets and multicultural, Western realities are enough to be getting on with!  I will stop short of reflecting on the impact of politicians, bankers and directors on the UK and abroad as people are very aware of this.

The Internet and its effect upon people's behaviour is something else that I have observed.  I love the Internet!  I spend too much time looking at art/photography, browsing different types of pages and contributing to discussions.  However I value real-life (i.e.; life not in front of a computer screen) much more.  The West is changing faster than may of us would have believed 10 years ago and information overload contributes to this.  Values have shifted from quality to quantity, from clarity of thought to arbitrariness and from high quality consumer products to low quality, high cost products. 

The postmodern workplace is crammed full of problems and has become a legal minefield.  The Internet and information technology has contributed to this, as we try to adjust to more impersonal, computerised ways of working while we are all still adjusting to the recession and its impact.  Whereas businesses have to try very hard to advertise and keep up appearances (an important part of competition) during tough times, is continual and sometimes inefficient, adjustment to new technology a wise policy?  Balance seems the key, rather than all out change.

Finally, I wanted to mention the current state of sexual relationships in the UK and further afield, although my knowledge is confined to the West.  With the recent plethora of changes to Western societies, the legalisation of gay marriage may have gone virtually unnoticed.  The UK has already signed up to this idea and so has France.  It seems ironic that the legalisation of gay marriage has taken place while many heterosexual marriages are, quite frankly, falling apart.  There seems to be a large shift away from romantic love and providing a lasting, stable base for bringing up children, to a culture of short-term sexual relationships, casual sex and affairs.  Personally, I don't have a problem with this, although I am concerned about the well-being of children.  I wonder what the effect of our current approach to relationships will have upon children?  Indeed, what about the effect of gay couples adopting children or using surrogate mothers or fathers, or artificial insemination?  In a time dominated by cultural upheaval, legal minefields and an economic downturn, is romantic, enduring love very difficult to achieve, or undesirable?  If this is the case, then what are we to make of romance, or the Romantic, in the arts and entertainment.  There has been a vogue for romanticism* for some time, so the need seems to be there even if (because of societal pressures) we can no longer enjoy romance in relationships.  At least not to the degree that we used to.  Is this a reflection of a colder, Orwellian-type society(ies) that overly attempts to suppress emotion or other freedoms?  Perhaps, once again, information technology is contributing to the current state of relationships, by creating anonymous, impersonal and fleeting environments? 


Simon


*I acknowledge the difference between romance and Romanticism.  I also acknowledge the similarities.



 

31 Mar 2013

Cork City - Impressions


Cork City - Impressions, originally uploaded by crescentsi.

Via Flickr:
Even in dull and freezing weather Ireland never ceases to fascinate the artisitic with its drama and beauty. The sky was amazing when I took this photo, so it inspired me to keep editing and then edit some more! ;-)

Simon

19 Mar 2013

Capoeira 2


Capoeira 2, originally uploaded by crescentsi.

Via Flickr:
From the same series as Capoeira 1.
www.flickr.com/photos/thecrescent/8519983626/in/photostream

I could have left this photo pretty much how it was, with little or no editing. Perhaps I should have cropped it? But the crowd seem to add to the energy of the Capoeira practioners, so I didn't want to exclude them. I couldn't resist adding some light - the energy and the light that was already present in the photo suggested it! :-)

Simon

26 Feb 2013

Notes on "Cloud Atlas" by the Wachowski's/Tom Tykwer

I guess I could describe "Cloud Atlas" as Art House meets Sci-Fi for the Information Age.  Ultimately this film is an attempt to bring numerous strands of sometimes, disparate stories together, culminating in a cohesive conclusion.

Despite some critical murmurings about over-complexity, "six films in one" and general incomprehensibility, the message of the film (and possibly the book it is based on) seems quite clear.  I also heard an accusation of over ambitiousness, which is a little bit sad in times when the arts are suffering from the affliction of post modernity. 

Essentially, "Cloud Atlas" endeavours to illustrate that human beings are all connected, despite race, time or our position in the "pecking order".  Intrinsic to this idea are the notions of reincarnation, an after-life or heaven and heredity.  It seems reasonable to claim that personality traits live on from one generation to another (Darwinism/heredity/genetics) however one assertion in the film, that traits and occurrences reiterate themselves throughout generations because of molecular or energy shifts in Space Time, seems a little whimsical.  Nonetheless similar ideas and speculations are found in physics, which may lend some weight to the concept.  Maybe not! 

A similar idea is explored in the film "Avatar" where aliens and human visitors to their planet can access a "tree of ancestors". 

Although somewhat tedious in its moralising, "Cloud Atlas" does elicit a potent sense of humanity, throughout each of the different stories.  In a similar way to the Matrix trilogy, ideas of truth, morality, heroism and the ability of individuals working together to overcome adversity or corruption are common themes.  In an artificial, constantly changing and disconnected reality, where objectivity and materiality continually question our sense of intrinsic humanness, this film offers the idea of a continuity of human and humanitarian values where ever the future takes us and throughout our histories.  One could argue that the film champions a secular, positive spirituality or, perhaps a kind of humanism.

For me, the film is interesting and worthwhile because it has an artistic relevance in the sense that it attempts to move towards a global art-form, within the genre of cinema.  Global art(s) describes art-forms and concepts that reflect the positive aspects of globalisation and multiculturalism.  My belief is that Global art moves us towards a new avant-garde that moves beyond postmodernist narratives of the decline of the West as a leading cultural, economic and intellectual force.  This avant-garde may comprise of the displacement of cultures and the merging of varying cultures to create new art-forms and styles.

Briefly, I wanted to mention a number of other salient aspects of "Cloud Atlas".  It is worth noting that, from my point of view, this film is not as good as the Matrix Trilogy.  However, there are times when the film screams "The Matrix" out at the viewer!  Particularly during the futuristic story lines.  Sydney Pollock's approach to cinema can quite clearly be seen as an influence, in both the theatricality of "Cloud Atlas" and the sci-fi elements.  Peter Greenaway may also have influenced the directors with his boundless enthusiasm for theatre and often, multi-faceted meanings.  The film allows the music to speak during emotional moments, often sounding like Glass or Reich, which conveys emotional potency.  Although there are some beautiful visual moments, the cinematic style is not dissimilar from jumping from website to website on the Internet.  Indeed, information overload seems to have influenced the cinematic style, however this does not detract from the ability of the film to cohese seemingly disparate story lines and bring them to an exciting climax.
 

9 Feb 2013

ArtHouse: Jaya Suberg

ArtHouse: Jaya Suberg

Interesting mixture of ideas and techniques in Jaya Suberg's art.

:-)

10 Jan 2013

10/01/2013

This blank page worries me as if I'd
already said that,
that I am about to say and this would
incur meaninglessness
as if to say "start again"

If we are honest art isn't really
about art at all;
art is about politics and
the fact that you know that,
possibly before I finished

saying it, further implies
politics as if politics
were representations and echoed
a concept of human relationships.
As if we could engage in relating
yet find ourselves askew

from relationships, estranged
from reality.  Facebook was created
to enable the world to keep in touch,
but we could already do that through
various simulations of relating.

Invariably strange, Facebook touches
the senses but keeps very few in touch,
to sense one another becomes
insoluble.  Distance is the key
to fiscal simulacra, distance

if only a representation of something
that lies between things and is measurable
by representations that evoke and
represent emotions.

No longer a blank page
this page instills a feeling
of purposelessness; which is the
Internet its incredible
imbalance with

a much more productive
real life
despite economic malaise.  Poetically
speaking, cliche and plain
language

are far more rewarding than
flowery prose that
evokes an impression of confidence
Entre nous
I've resisted lingua franca to

evoke clarity
so the reader can just "get it"
without tackling disparate metaphors
but I can't promise I won't
return to conventional poesy

to evoke optimism a la
histoire.  Really, this
isn't a poem at all
as poetry is something
we used to do

so this is a collection
of ideas in written form
text art I s'ppose
other than literature
and connected Western connotations of