New comic is finally on digital computery pixels. Apologize in advance to those with handheld devices capable of internets for the size of the file, but maybe they are getting stronger, and their death grip around your enslaved hands strengthens. Buzz buzz! Pick me up you insignificant fool, engage in the world when I command you to! I’ve just seen Lord of the Rings for the millionth time: the correlations between iPhone and the plantirs Sauron used to corrupt Saruman and the steward of Gondor are uncanny.
I saw the Hobbit in 3D.
Up until now I had always been able to clearly read the line of smallest letters at the bottom of any eye test. However, the Hobbit made me doubt my own eyes. I couldn’t see anything.
I’m not going to pretend that I know how that tech works, but it appeared to do this: When you look at a landscape, any landscape, with say, a river snaking up through a mountain valley, your eyes can pick where they want to illuminate. If you study the river water, the mountain and its details fuzz out. If you study the mountain peak, the foreground trees and river fuzz out. With the 3D, it appeared that the digital effects team were forcefully deciding which part of the image on screen I should be focusing on, and blurring out everything else. They were not just directing my eye by controlling the exact window of vision (i.e. the camera shot) but they were being my eye. Like some ADD parrot…
“Squawk – Look at this! Look at this! Look at his nose! Now to Gandalf, forget the right of the screen, it’s not important…”
I doubted my eyes because whenever I looked at what I wanted to look at, say a nice little background or a skirmish off centre, the 3D blurred it out. The thing is, my eyes are good, if I wanted to look at that part, they would’ve adjusted and it would’ve come into focus. Instead I’m given the illusion that I have vision impairment, because despite my eyes doing their thing, it stayed blurry.
Despite being blind the entire time I enjoyed the film. It was paced well and had everything you’d want in a Middle earth adventure.
WTF Mountain golems. Trolls that support Chelsea football club. A band of characters so numerous that the script writer probably wanted to exhume Tolkein and punch him in the face. Goblin King that supports Chelsea football club. Some random pale Orc that put his hand up and said “I’ll be antagonist for this one!” To which Smaug and Sauron decided to hit the pub. A necromancer that made anyone who had played fantasy RPG video games laugh (clearly a low level enemy). A brown wizard who hangs out with Ewoks and Jar Jar binks in his spare time. An awesome Gollum scene. Ring Wraiths, when Bilbo put on the ring, had this conversation whilst at the Mordor pub, “Hey, isn’t that the ring?” “No, no, I mean yes,” “Can’t be stuffed ay” ”we could just not tell him…” “sweet” “another round?” And Elves, who talk dramatically and do little.
Lately I’ve floated a few ideas around on this site that may seem to slag off the movie industry in general, and perhaps unwisely, Weta Workshop being right down the road. There may be a few Orcs knocking at my door if I don’t pull my head in.
This was certainly not the intention.
We live in a strange time. A time of confusion around where the barrier between the virtual and the real sits.
Recently I went to a concert and there was this woman sitting four seats along. For almost the entire time she held her phone aloft, taking snapshots of her and her hubby, the concert, the crowd, generally photographing and videoing everything, as well as updating it all to Facebook. This was really annoying, as she had the cameraphone (Iphone or smartphone, don’t know which) with the flash on. So i asked myself, what world is she living in, the virtual or the real?
I propose that the line between the two wasn’t clear to her, partly because she has got them mixed up, partly because she has a total addiction to social media. She had two selves at that concert, her Facebook self and her physical body. They worked in tandem. Her fleshy body activated the device which allowed her virtual persona to live. Together, as one, they absorbed the concert. The aftermath is a human being that enjoyed a concert, and a bunch of data in the form of text and pictures on Facebook that has documented this. She has two memories, one in her brain, another in HTML.
This seems sci-fi and out there, but it’s right here, right now.
It’s not as if this concern hasn’t been brought up before. This Is Not A Pipe: This is a painting of a pipe. Of course we can see that the canvas is not a pipe, but if we were asked ‘what is this?’, we would reply, a pipe. I would. Only this is not a painted canvas either, this is a JPEG file originally found under ‘this is not a pipe’ in Google Search. This is a bunch of lit pixels on your screen.
Ultimately, this is what a Facebook profile is. It is maintained by flesh and blood, but we have no way of knowing that. To us, all that appears is a lit screen. Only we take it as common knowledge that a text, an Email, a Facebook post, even this blog right here, is personal, controlled by a human. The screen, like the painted canvas, disappears.
Concerning the movie industry, all I was saying is that the screen will always be there. In todays astonishing graphics, like the Halo 4 video game I have just been playing, the screen is actually holding it back. My television is ugly compared to what it is housing. The conquest of realism in todays movies and video games, coinciding with the explosion of Facebook and social media, confuses us a lot more as to what is real and what is ‘realistic.’
What I was not sledging is making something beautiful. It’s a misconception that beauty comes at the expense of a good idea. A misconception that flies rampant at Massey University amongst Fine Arts students. By all means make something beautiful, it’s fun and challenging. Weta, lead the way.
But a word of caution. How ridiculous is it, that in today’s world, I can say that I’ve driven a spaceship through another spaceship, shooting Promethian robots and what not, and it looked pretty darn real? This is an issue, because it takes a lot of effort to make sci-fi, fantasy stuff appear real, Weta will attest. The issue is that you are dealing with an audience that is increasingly being immersed into the virtual, and thus is no longer wowed by its spectacle.
Alien worlds, floating towers, villainous hordes. Seen it. Done it.
But we spent millions of dollars making it!
Yeah, but, been there done that.
Another layer of realism isn’t going to be enough for much longer. This is what concerns me. However, being way more conscious about what stories are being told in these amazing worlds, being brave, being experimental, and being less concerned with making the screen appear absent, will be more than enough. Lets move away from the Hollywood, America vs terrorists disguised in sci-fi storylines.
The screen is already gone for a lot of people. If you believed that this writing is remotely human, you’re one of them. It’s just pixels on a screen. So…
My performance for Fine Arts went as follows.
I dressed in a Bambi paper mache mask, Fred Dagg singlet, jeans and farm boots.
For one hour I drank as many cans of Tui as I could through a straw attached to the mask.
I sat lazily in a seat watching my remix videos: Disney footage with Kanye West over the top.
The way the room was set up. Projector and speakers behind me. Projection on opposite wall.
My tutor wonders, uhh what?
Another beer please.
Thanks to Splash and Riah for the photography. Great job considering it was such a dark space.
I’m in recovery mode after performing my final piece for Massey Fine Arts year 3.
Videos and pictures will follow in future posts but I thought I ought to write while still feeling the ill effects of my work. I performed a stereotypical version of New Zealand manhood. In one hour I consumed as much Tui beer as I could. I managed 8 full cans. If I was to boast about this you would be receiving a clear message as to how men in New Zealand often measure their strength.
I was wearing a paper mache Bambi head (adult Bambi, not baby Bambi). I sucked the beer through a straw protruding out of Bambi’s cute smiling snout.
I painted my body in a typical two tone Disney pattern. I was wearing a Fred Dagg/Wal Footrot black farming singlet, jeans and tramping boots.
I felt ridiculous throughout and ridiculous afterward. Being drunk at University at 1pm felt uncool. I’ve experienced many stories from my male friends about doing similar things, drunken stupid things. The desired response to these tales is a ‘good on ya mate’ and we all laugh. As men its cool to boast about these acts. It’s a sign of prestige. When I describe this project to my friends, making sure to explain how drunk I got at Art School in the middle of the day, I will probably get applause.
By dressing up as this clownish Kiwi Bambi hybrid, I intended to parody and overplay the bravado of New Zealand booze culture among young men. Well, parody is actually a weak word. I intended to ridicule it, by ridiculing myself, by doing it. By showing it to be a superficial, immature performance. A fake persona. Tui, because of its stupid and immature advertising, seemed the logical brew to consume.
How do I feel now? I feel I acted with honesty, stripping back the layers of why I feel drinking to huge excess is a narrow minded lack of self respect, and certainly not the only, singular or correct way New Zealand men can entertain themselves. I felt I exposed the sadness of such a desperate performance of manliness. I felt like it was worth taking a step in another direction, to assert a stance on New Zealand masculinity against the grain.
I feel tired, slow, sick and useless.