gistofthegrist

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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Cinemagraphs

cinemagraphs-34

Really strange combo work from Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg. Working somewhat like those old style ‘animated’ moving waterfall mirror pictures [static image but with a rotating shadow making mask in front of a coloured bulb]. Takes a few seconds to realise what is going on.

Slightly surreal, subtle and sensual.

Newest Cinemagraphs by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg9For some reason the final shot of The Shining comes to mind. The camera very slowly, from a long shot, pulls into an old framed browned with age photo on the wall [the same photos we have been seeing without detail throughout the movie] and there in the centre of the patrons of the Overall Hotel circa 1921 is our now frozen solid in the garden maze, Jack Torrance. Smiling. You almost expect him to move.

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uncanny valley

This reminds me of the ‘birth’ scenes at the beginning of the Ghost in the Shell animated movies and the disassembly scene during the credits of the Korean movie Natural City.

One thinks of the genitalia faced sculptures of the Chapman brothers [perhaps influenced by J. S. Sebastian’s dildo nosed automaton in Blade Runner?] and the quote from the android David in the movie Prometheus “I was designed like this because you people are more comfortable interacting with your own kind” and wonders just why it is that all advanced ‘robots’ intended to interact with humans on a meaningful level are made to look like us [more or less – ie not all of us look like all of us; think Abigail and Brittany Hensel] but why that then frightens us?

things that go bump

My favourite Animatrix episode, Beyond by Koji Morimoto. Where surrealism and spirituality collide? No wonder [just as with Star Wars] there are those that have made the narrative into a religion.

Wouldn’t it be cool [and make life so much more interesting] if there was ‘variable’ physics at play in our universe / reality. Think movies like The Matrix or Inception or Dark City or Upside Down. Nothing to do with super-human powers like flying or leaping tall buildings with a single bound. Just simple random outcomes to our normally perceived physical laws. So, you knock that mug off the table, perhaps it smashes to the ground as per normal, but perhaps it floats up instead or perhaps it hovers in mid air.

It might make life very difficult [the drink you just poured into your mouth has turned from liquid to solid in an instant] but never dull.

Hell, upside down

The Poseidon Adventure, one of my favourite 1970s disaster movies [when they became two-a-penny], not just because it is a cracking race against the clock survival quest, nor due to the [as with that other great ship disaster movie A Night To Remember, 1958 ] interesting commentary on class and social interaction, but because of its great upside-down frame of reference.

up down house

I remember as a child playing on the stairs of the 2 up 2 down cottage I lived in, feet up the stairs and head down, marvelling at how strange the architecture looked ‘wrong-side up’. In fact how ship-like things became, especially in relation to doorways to rooms with their now large ‘skirting board’ step barriers [like submarine hatchways].

Perhaps the surreality of the situation minds us of disasters and dreams? How else outside the funfair Mystery Mansion (Haunted House) Ride house could whole structures be turned literally up-side-down without a Wizard of Oz house-lifting tornado.

roadside picnic

tarkovsky-stalker

I’ve always found this still from the 1979 film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky [based on the Russian novel Roadside Picnic] to be deeply mysterious and moving. Perhaps just as with images of sand drifting through the deserted buildings of the ghost town Kolmanskop in the Namib Desert it is the topsy turvy outside-in-ness of it all?

There is nothing stranger than seeing the ground floor of a building with the floorboards removed for repair; the barren earth below where day to day life normally carries on revealed. A step back into the mud hut.

Kolmanskop

Are we so easily confused between inside and out? Might we not all be living inside a giant Truman Show Dyson shell?

For the memories of a lifetime

ski pluto

Would you like to ski...
but you're snowed under with work?
Do you dream of a vacation at the bottom of the ocean...
but you can't float the bill?
Have you always wanted to climb the mountains of Mars...
but now you're over the hill?

Total Recall

I confess I haven’t seen the recent remake; I tend to steer clear of such efforts as they mostly seem to add nothing new. I was thinking though, given that the future is supposed to be the stuff of dreams, why it is that there are so few holidays in science fiction? After all in most narratives there continues to be work [a notable exception perhaps being the works of Iain M Banks Culture].

A rather comical instance is Fhloston Paradise in The Fifth Element. Super Green.

primal scream

psycho_scream

There is more to the scream than at first meets the ear. More than a mere high pitched vocalization. Shrieks of pleasure / ecstasy. Howls of grief. Exhalations of stress or anguish or fear. Or even the confused fandom mixture of excitement, adulation and lust.

Everyone knows the facial features of Munch’s famous Scream and Francis Bacon’s Popes, the filmic wide mouthed cries of Psycho‘s Marion and the Battleship Potemkin‘s Odessa Steps nurse. But is the face without the high octave phonation still technically a scream? For instance the wake from a nightmare ‘silent scream’ of terror.

Most cinematic screams leave much to be desired in terms of being convincing, which is presumably why much of Hollywood has used but a single example since the 1950s? Indeed this search for the perfect scream forms a crucial part of Brian De Palma’s 1981 thriller Blow Out [one of Travolta’s best films IMHO]. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a ‘scientific’ formula for such a scream based on duration, pitch, loudness etc but the thing that gives away most screams as being ‘put on’, is the eyes. At least in terms of the terror scream it is very hard to fake genuine fear.

Apparently there is a custom at many U.S. universities just before the beginning of final exams [at the start of ‘dead week’ – a week of silent study] whence students fling open their windows at midnight and en masse holler into the night in a kind of primal therapy workout.

But remember “In space no one can hear you scream”.

Rebel Yell

To most perhaps just the name of a hit track by Billy Idol? Very interesting to see this rare footage [with some old gents who barely have the lung strength to even breathe it seems] of genuine war cries from the 19th century.

The word ‘slogan’ originally derives from sluagh-gairm or sluagh-ghairm (sluagh = “people”, “army”, and gairm = “call”, “proclamation”), the Scottish Gaelic word for “gathering-cry” and in times of war for “battle-cry”.

So army recruiting PR using slogans is a very ‘amusing’ double entendre.

World War I recruitment poster by James Montgomery Flagg

World War I recruitment poster – James Montgomery Flagg

Longplayer

bowls

A fantastic 1,000 year musical art work utilising a score for Tibetan Singing Bowls is housed in a decommissioned London lighthouse. I first visited at the end/beginning of the last millennium, and pop my head in every couple of years.

I really wish the artist found a way to lodge a couple of examples far from human interference; solar powered in some remote desert and tide/current powered on a buoy in some remote ocean, so that in 987 years the piece might still be found playing.

You can download and learn about / be part of the listening experience.

stratospheric colossus of sound

Many of course view such ‘minimalist’ music as being merely sound trash. But where would the ‘classical’ Terry Rileys, the Steve Reichs, the Philip Glass’ the John Adams’, the Michael Nymans; the experimental John Cages, the Frank Zappas, the  Brian Enos; the prog rocky Soft Machine, King Crimson; the populist Mike Oldfield; the industrial noise Nine Inch Nails and Throbbing Gristle; the performers Stomp and Blue Man Group be without the early work of Edgard Varèse and Erik Satie?

Certainly evident in the above piece I hear the future Lalo Schifrin’s percussion heavy but minimalist movie scores for Bullet and Dirty Harry in particular.

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