Although I’m not sure about that long bit sticking out the back. Reminds me of something off Dune… and it’s good to see a bit of chrome etc. Proper. Proper styling.
The way there’s a MASSIVE windowsill at the front is cool as well – you can fit literally dozens of old crisp-packets and coke cans etc up there – although I think personally, I’d put in some sort of herb (pronounced H-erb… like “Herbie”) garden in instead. So you could nibble on a bit of mint, or a chive or something as you were driving along.
As this (with a bit of tweaking) has only one wheel at the front, it’s technically/legally a bike – which means you don’t need to conform to all sorts of safety regulations.
Ok – this isn’t a film review (far be it from me etc)… it’s a loosely rotating bunch of (scrambled) satellite thoughts, revolving around Moon – which is a movie. It’s set on the moon.
But first watch this. It’s Bruce Sterling. He’s brilliant. He goes on for ages.
But more about that later. First the trivia.
1) My mate made this movie. Or had something to do with the making of it. Whatever. In my mind it’s my mate’s movie. My Mate’s Movie Moon.
2) I pirated it.
I had to. I live in a small town in New Zealand – the local cinema is never going to show it and the local video store probably won’t stock it either. They don’t even have City of God. They don’t have Paris Texas. Their Science Fiction Section is about 1m Sq shelving, filled with the major franchises/block-busters. Welcome to the suburban desert. It’s Wallmart with the roof come off.
I guess I could have bought the DVD over the internet… if I could trust that the import would be geographically band-fucked, or that Sony weren’t going to try to infect my computer with another root-kit virus etc… but that’s not how the process works, and everybody knows it. We don’t buy DVDs of movies we haven’t seen, we buy DVDs of movies we already love.
File-sharing is acting as free-radio. It’s not something you can control, and if you try, you will become ugly and people will hate you.
3) I’m a sci-fi fan. We don’t watch sci-fi movies, we have relationships with them. I will probably see this movie about once a year for decades to come – on TV when it’s showing, on aeroplanes, when I’m stuck in hotels, from DVD stores to share with other people when I can… maybe even at the cinema to see what it’s like on a big screen. And I will blog about it.
Watching a file-shared version is part of this process. It’s part of the culture. Get used to it. Use it.
If you’re lucky, people will copy you – they will make spin-off films. They will dress up as you and turn up to conferences looking like dipshits, and people will take photographs of them and go LOL, and more people will see the dance-remixes of the LOL-cat version than the original film. History is repeated as farce, but if you haven’t reinvented yourself or moved on by the time that happens… then you are (deservedly) part of the farce, or a forgotten backwater thereof.
There are fucking hundreds of them! And these are NOT actually all the movies for sale at Cannes, these are just the British ones. Moon is on the list. “For Sale”? What does that mean? Do they sell it to a distributor or something?
So you spend years, millions and… whatever, making something in the hope that someone might buy it? Notice a potential, unfair imbalance of power here?
So the third thought… distribution: You don’t really appreciate just how much the traditional distribution bottle-neck is choking the culture until you start pirating – and find out that the movies available are a tiny tiny subset of those made. I think it’s fucking criminal to be honest. This top-down control is impoverishing.
5) So enough about that, back to Moon and Bruce Sterling.
I think this movie is a classic piece of neo-paleo-futurism… ie: Something that’s been made to look like yesterday’s idea of the future.
It’s classic (it says so at the beginning) because it’s a classic period – the 70s… the computers and technology all look a bit like 70s technology – it’s got that whole Kubrick vibe going – Apollo Punk. In the future people will do their houses up to look like this – once the Favela Chic thing gets truly underway.
It’s a byproduct of what I call The Science-Fiction Singularity – a not entirely new notion… that we’ve hit a point where we can’t believably predict what the future holds because it’ become too unstable. Our trends have gone exponential – so this film has cloning… which is predictable enough, but the other technology is all very linear and uni/bi directional. The social constructs (such as they are) are all from the uni-tasking broadcast-era rather than the massively networked era that we currently creating. It’s a film from the 70s – which is (in my opinion) the period when movies were still art – before the whole industry turned into an exercise in selling Genre, then Franchise.
The movie industry appears to be in a Emmerson Lake And Palmer phase… and it’s badly in need of some Velvet Underground… as a culture we don’t need films like Avatar (which make billions, and make everyone go “oooooh”), we need films that make everyone think “I could do that”.
I’m not sure if Moon is one of these so much as a (classic) homage to a period when classics were… classics… and maybe that’s what atemporality is about… you can’t tell if this film is from the future or the past. You can’t really tell if it’s even set in the future or the past – though it claims be the future.
I think gloss is a negative now. We’re post-gloss. Moon is a post-gloss film that is constructed from the sets of 1970s classic sci-fi. It’s historical.
I really do hope there are loads more like this. Whole worlds of them. Cool film. Makes you think dunnit. Makes you think “what if, what if…”.
Now go back and listen to the Bruce Sterling thing again – and forget all this crap you’ve been hearing about “Free” destroying culture. It’s not – it’s just freeing us from the puppet-strings of middle-men… we haven’t figured out how to walk on our own yet, but we will. It’s getting easier.
Culture is like quicksilver – it will live. What you’re seeing now isn’t Culture being attacked by the Internet, but Culture itself using the Internet to attack the Yoke-Meisters. They protesteth, but then they would.
Personally I’d like one that was basically electronics sandwiched between layers of scratch-proof acrylic and stainless steel. Connected together with proper bolts wingnuts, so I can pull the thing apart without loads of fuss. Is there such a thing as laserpunk? That’s what I want. Laserpunk.
Part of the reason why I’ve been off… line, for the last month or so is that… erm… the nature of the war that we may or may not be in, is shifting focus. I feel like The Internet is being attacked… globally on so many fronts (in basically the same way) that we possibly do need to call it something like war now.
I mean in the bronze age, Iron age, industrial-era… wars were fought in bronze, iron, industrial ways – so I guess in the information era (or whatever it is we’re currently in) this pattern will continue – but things will be different because we’re also going through a Gutenberg Shift – and one of the things that happens in Gutenberg Shifts, is that it becomes a lot clearer to people that their biggest problems are top-down problems.
So we’ve got highly dubious 3-strikes laws being plotted/snuck through in New Zealand, the UK, Spain, France, Sweden?… there’s the ACTA negotiations which are secret because (according to one of the players) if people knew what they were, they’d walk away from the table. Relentless corporate attacks on net-neutrality… There are censorship moves afoot not just in China and Iran but also Australia… and all of the above is just the stuff I know about. There seems to be this broad-based top down attack going on. The end of 2009 feels like the end of Empire Strikes Back.
We seem to have skipped the part where we look at evidence as to whether sharing culture actually hurts the culture, and instead we (or our elected leaders at least) are just blandly accepting the idea that “a file shared, is a sale lost” and have moved on to discussing the punishment.
Well we’ve been here before, and I’m more than happy to fight for this. Seriously.
Anyway, vaguely apropos of that… here’s an interesting video of a beautiful bit of paleo-futurism – Salvador Allende’s hi-tech panopticon.
A primordial hexapod variant not only capable of climbing into the back of a pickup truck, but also capable of lifting it up as well – a 3-1 strength/weight ratio, which is fairly impressive.
There’s a scanned PDF article about it here… on a site about old robots – most of which are little plastic toy things, but not this one. I’m not sure how smart it would be… I mean the computer I was programming around then had 32k memory. Total. RAM/ROM combined.
Still… spooky looking critter.
If anyone wants to laser-cut one, here are the various bits:
It uses 18 motors – and it looks like the up/down ones operate on a screw type thing which is A) strong and b) slow.
Here’s my prediction for the future. When a mechanical muscles are properly invented… ie: a lump of stuff that contracts when you pass a current through it… there will be a massive proliferation of… well, functionoids.
One of my favorite concepts is that anything that turns up in a Science Fiction movie will eventually be made… probably by fans of the movie. It will probably be made repeatedly, with better and better fidelity as technology improves.
In a funny sort of way this extends to the Movies themselves. One day someone will make Dune… and pull it off – in the same way that there were a couple of goes at Lord of the Rings before someone got it right. Not to trivialise the efforts of others – the existing attempts at Dune are so much better than I could do, it’s embarrassing in some ways even to comment – but face it, every Dune fan is still waiting for the definitive version. Casting Paul Atreides is always going to be hard.
Still, never mind about that, check this out:
Somebody’s actually built the house from Mon Oncle – a Jacques Tati film from 1958 which I saw when I was about 14. While not Science Fiction exactly, it’s about the old world meeting a vision of the new world in which every possible aspect of plastic modernity is pushed to a ridiculous extreme
And danged if it don’t have pretty much the same level of starkly minimalist design-fetishism that the pre-crash 21st Century had. The kitchen looks like an ipod.
This is also another interesting example of this trend where a piece of work is not presented as a fait accompli – but rather the whole production history (or edited highlights thereof) are also presented. It’s like art/craft has acquired a new dimension along the time axis.
And Morgan are still going – though I must confess that I prefer their vintagier looking offerings.
What’s the bet, that when electric vehicles get fully underway, you’ll be able to buy Sound/Feel emulators (a bit like vintage-amp emulators that you can get for guitars) that make the same sound and vibrations etc as the real thing.
This one (the Morgan I mean) could almost form a design genre all of it’s own – like steam punk, but applied to 1920s racing cars, all chrome and leather and general shineyness – there have been a couple of tries at this, but they’ve never quite pulled it off… Too much modernity and not enough attention to detail… and materials (when you come down to it) have their own personalities. To make cars that look like this, I think you have to start with wood.
A Ferrari Modulo Pininfarina from 1970 – a pinnacle of the art – absolutely beautiful bit of paleo-futurism which makes me think of Clockwork Orange for some reason.
It makes me feel all futuristic and nostalgic at the same time.
Still. That was yesterday.
A while back I went on gushingly about Local Motors – a car-manufacturer that’s adopted the Threadless Approach, and got punters to design their own cars… a couple of days ago, Eric Hunting (who’s a genius) from the Open-Manufacturing group had this to say about it:
Normally I would jump at this topic, but after looking at this site
I’m afraid I couldn’t do it without my rage getting out of control.
I’m unfortunately afflicted with an Eero Saarinen sort of aesthetic
sensibility. Unnecessary design and decoration tends to piss me off
and cause me to start trance-channeling James Lileks.
The premise is great. The idea of crowdsourcing designs and then
producing them through localized manufacture is very significant. I
really-really-really want to like this project. But their
implementation of this concept….
The first thing that leapt into my mind upon going to this web site
was; “what’s with all these Batmobiles, Hot Wheels cars, George Barris
mutants, and Syd Mead rip-offs?” And then I realized, this is what
they are getting as design submissions from, mostly American
apparently, design students and car enthusiasts. And what’s their
first car going into development? A luxury dune buggy? Do they really
think that is going to have any kind of cultural impact? The fatal
flaw in their concept seems to be the nature of the crowd they’re
crowdsourcing design from. Student car designers today are not
educated in the technology of automobile fabrication. It seems they
may not be getting any engineering education whatsoever anymore. They
are trained in fuzzy aesthetic philosophy (the sort of moronic design
theory that says every car should have a ‘nice face’…) and using
computer graphics programs to render glassy-looking pictures that
generate a ‘wow factor’. These are then thrown at engineering teams
that pick out whatever looks remotely feasible to build with some
hacking for the sake of reality adjustment. So there’s been this
growing tendency in car design toward nothing more than Hot Wheels
novelty cars featuring a lot of SciFi nonsense. No one seems to know
the meaning of the word ‘practical’ anymore. When you crowdsource
designs from this community of industrial illiterates and CARtoons
buffs you get a lot of beautifully rendered gobbldigook that is mostly
infeasible to even prototype, let alone ever function as practical
vehicles. This is why I can’t go to car shows anymore. Contemporary
car design just makes me want to go Shonen Bat on everybody.
Using competitions as reality filters, the founders of this venture
cherry-pick the most feasible designs to prototype. But they seem to
be from the ‘blobject’ school of auto engineering that says cars are
disposable sculptural artifacts where everything beyond the engine
block is ‘decor’ that’s OK to custom-fabricate no matter how wasteful
that may be -otherwise that Speedbuggy/Knightrider mashup Rally
Fighter would have never been taken seriously. I doubt you could even
get a serious functional automobile through their selection process.
(I actually saw one real prospect stuck in their portfolio gallery
that apparently didn’t pass muster -probably because it looked too
sensible to be cool) This dooms them to forever produce futuristic
equivalents of the bloody Plymouth Superbird (the mullet of
automobiles and utter epitome of everything that was ever wrong with
car design…) rather than the next world class vehicle like the VW
Bug. They will learn the hard way that this simply cannot work in a
local production model unless you are resigned to producing the
automotive equivalent of customized expensive designer toys -which
means you’re back to the same model as Ferrari. Detroit gets away with
treating cars as especially wasteful blobjects because of the
ridiculous scale of production. But until 3D printers can generate a
whole car chassis on demand, practical cost-effective local production
demands you treat cars as platforms based on a very small assortment
of standardized chassis (motherboards…) that maximize potential
functionality and are supported by a global industrial ecology of
competitive parts makers. A $50,000 car is absolutely culturally
irrelevant except as some kind of silly objet d’art. So all we really
have here is a kind of upper-class art-car club. I can feel it in my
very bones -if this company lasts 5 years they WILL cover a car in
Someone needs to tell these folks that making toys is for elves…
Which made me fall about laughing. He’s completely right and I was completely wrong – I hope he doesn’t mind me re-printing this. I did ask but he didn’t reply, so I fall back on my defecto behaviour which is somewhere between asking permission and asking forgiveness.
So there you go kids. You hadn’t figured on that had you? That crowd-sourced design IS actually going to make the world look like MySpace rather than Ikea.
The future’s so bright I have to wear shades.
AND it’s got bench-seats in the front so your supermodel girlfriend can drape herself all over you and interfere with your driving causing you to ding it on something that looks like this
while you’re trying to find the exit to the Walmart carpark.
Reminds me of Polyston by Adam Roberts – which would have been a great book, if it wasn’t for an insanely cruel bit in it… it was about a universe where the space between planets was breathable and you could fly between them in biplanes.