26 January 2008

Sleeping Men Don't Sneeze

For much of the last few weeks i've been agog and slightly in shock... appalled into silence, in fact. I saw I Am Legend, with Will Smith playing Robert Neville, a book that i truly love, and whose previous movie versions (The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston & The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price) i found pleasing, if a bit disappointing. And then i saw this newest version...

And... at first i was pleased. Re-locating the film to New York (because of course, New York is the center of the universe) was slightly problematic, but overall a useful and interesting choice. It did give us a break from possibly the most tiresome (but ultimately crucial) plot element of the original novel where the Vampires stand outside Neville's house each night trying to coax him out.

Ultimately the movie comes to precisely the opposite conclusion than that of Matheson's original novel, which is, i suppose, a useful mistake...

24 January 2008

a response...

I explored several of the various links in the “Chance, Reason and Dreams” section with varying degrees of frustration. I started with (before last class) the Wikipedia entries on Locus Solus and Raymond Roussel, which were both utterly new to me. And then dug around in the visual/interactive links for some time.
Starting with “Waxweb”, an online film by David Blair, which I watched only part of. The first section was an elongated title of the film called “Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees”. This got me started thinking along a line entirely separate from the rest of the film (which is why I abandoned it after 6 more snippets).

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot of Marshall McLuhan lately, and one of the ideas I kept coming back to was his classification of television as a cool medium, a participatory medium. His ‘evidence’ for this is the low quality of the image compared to film (a hot medium), so it seems reasonable that television is becoming less and less a cool medium as the image gets better and better and with the advent of HD television has become a fully ‘hot’ medium.

I think, though, that McLuhan maybe missed what was really ‘cool’ about television, namely its immediacy. The fact that it is shared, simultaneously by everyone who watches it, makes it ‘cooler’. As you sit and watch The Daily Show on your couch and laugh along with it there’s something simultaneously comforting and (maybe) engaging about the fact that it is being broadcast simultaneously to millions of others, that you are ‘getting it’ at the very same moment everyone else is ‘getting it’. There’s, I think, something like an implication of participation in this.

I then went on to check out some of the Flash projects in “Dreaming Methods”, interactive, game-like environments where you can move about, pick things up, read documents, and even add your own writing. While the concept feels more participatory than a medium like television, the limitations of the coding, what you can and can’t interact with end up making it feel like a Scott Adams game.

... and now for some cool stuff to check out...
The site is crudely designed, but has great links to lots of pictures, poems and manifestos!
Duchamp is one of the most significant artists and philosophers of our times. This is an elegant site with great content, though the interface gets a bit frustrating!
The Getty has a great collection of this amazing graphic designer's artifacts.
This is an excellent resource! The "Digital DADA Library" is particularly useful.
DADA invented collage... read a bit of light background about it here.
Good background on this great Belgian Surrealist painter.
Fantastic Flash-based projects centered upon dream states and dream narratives.
Complex hypertextual structure using film snippets to create a narrative about bee keeping. Worth digging in to!
Wikipedia entry on Locus Solus
Wikipedia entry on Raymond Roussel.
Excellent essay on Roussel's work and good general introduction to labyrinthine style.

More on this curious author...