Archive pour février 2008

Inevitable past

Jeudi 7 février 2008

When I was a child, I fantasied about a time machine, just like any other child. Nowadays Internet is the closest thing to the time machine that the humans have invented so far.

Type a name of an animation movie you liked as a kid on YouTube and I am sure some kind soul has uploaded it for you. This way I once stumbled upon fragments of a television series I breathlessly watched when I was thirteen years old. Me, and my whole generation. Its principal character, a girl with a non-Russian name Alice, was our superstar. Viewing the old images I was overcome by emotion, just as other viewers who have left the comments on the video. I was transported in Moscow of my thirteen’s year. Nowadays it is not only a madeleine that does this for you.

I once heard a scientist, whose name unfortunately I don’t remember and could not find, tell that in the course of the next centuries the future generation of humans will be able to reconstruct the past generations, literally clone their ancestors. They will have enough biotechnology to do that just from the scarce DNA fragments found in our graves. The scientist furthemore claimed that this scenario was not a mere possibility, but an inevitability. First, because nothing would stop the exponential growth of our technology, except maybe a mass destruction. Second, because the humans of the future – or the cyborgs, or some other kind of species evolved beyond our imagination – will be, like us, curious. And like us, apparently, eager to see what was.

The television series that was such a hit in my Soviet childhood, was called ‘The guest from the future’. The girl named Alice was a visitor from a technologically evolved and peaceful generation. Like this fragment shows, the fantasies about the future always look touching when you see them many years later. And of course, these fantasies are wrong. The future generations will not need a time machine. They will not come to us. They will make us come to them.

(If you know the name of the scientist, please let me know.)

Melting art forms

Vendredi 1 février 2008

In his theater piece ‘Good Canary’ John Malkovich uses digital video projection to create an ever changing environment for his protagonists. The moving images transmit the main character’s troubled state of mind, altered by drug abuse and profound anxiety. The static notion of theater decors is left behind and instead there is a visual background constantly adapting to the atmosphere of the scene.

This way watching the real-time theater piece comes close to watching a movie. On the other hand, we had the movie mimicking theater in Lars von Trier’s ‘Dogville’. The bare setting with few static decors and nothing more than chalk lines on the floor to indicate walls is all the viewer is confined to. Like in a theater show, this movie makes an appeal to the audience’s imagination rather than create a detailed visual illusion. The boundaries of different art forms melt, allowing means of expression belonging originally to a different domain.

One more example of interacting art forms is this tango argentino performance, danced on a video projection and making use of sensors to accompany the dancers’ moves by synchronously generated images. It is called iTango and the music is from the movie ‘Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain‘.