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Blog posts from December 2011

Practicing Faces

Hello there!

How was your Christmas?
…Really?
…Ooh, sounds good.
…Mine? Yeah it was great thanks.
…Looking forward to New Year?
…I know, I know, but the anticlimax doesn’t matter if you’re having a party, right?
…Hahah yeah.

(Who the hell are you talking to, Pat? – Ed)

The voices in my head, of course. It’s no odder than talking to you.

(…hmm… true. Shall we just get on with things? – Ed)

Good thinking.

Today I decided to play with drawing faces, and I though I’d upload the result for you to see. So… here you go:

Girl with a Ponytail
Girl with a Ponytail

Girl Smiling
Girl Smiling

Stern Man
Stern Man

Woman looking up
Woman looking up

Hope ya like!

Toodles,

Pat

Posted on Thu 29 Dec in Creative with No Comments

Black Mirror

Well hello there festive friend!

Hope you’re enjoying the week prior to the big, happy, cheery event we call Christmas! To mark the occasion, I though I’d write a blog about a set of very dark, satirical dramas from Charlie Brooker.

Each of the Black Mirror “episodes” are unique stories; written by different writers and featuring entirely different plots and scenarios. What they have in common is that they – as the name might suggest – hold a mirror (yep, a dark one) at our modern world – life, culture and our interaction with technology.

Black Mirror: The National Anthem involves the kidnapping of an important figure and leaving the Prime Minister responsible for their saftey. It focuses on the impact of social media on the spread of information, and also the disconnection we have when it comes to viewing public figures as human beings.

Black Mirror: 15 Million Merits is set in a futuristic society, in a compound where each person is surrounded by TV screens, advertising and virtual environments, and performs physical exercise to gain “credit” in order to trade for things – be they real or virtual. If one earns enough, one could even get on the futuristic equivalent of The X Factor! This is a somewhat mocking look at modern society obsessions with material things and celebrity, whilst using the metaphor of staring at a screen whilst on a literal exercise bike to gain virtual money to reflect the “rat race” most of our society exist in. It also has a nod to Network towards the end.

One thing I haven’t mentioned above, which I must, is that the episodes feature excellent scripts, great acting and are all-round really damn good (I believe that’s the technical term). This is very much also the case for the third and final episode:

Black Mirror: The Entire History Of You

This is based in a near-future world, which to all intents and purposes is the same as ours, except that we each have an implant in our minds, which allows us to “review” our memories as and when we want. Not only that, but we can review them on any TV or projector in any house, for other folks’ enjoyment.

The story focuses on a man who believes his wife may be cheating on him. I won’t go into the details, but the show asks a fundamental question: if we could, would we choose to relive every memory in crystal clear detail?

It asks us whether the ability to review everything that’s ever happened would be a positive thing for our lives, or whether we would become utterly obsessed with discovering things. It addresses both the good and bad aspects of a perfect (and sharable) memory in detail, with a great plot and fast pace.

I’d recommend you watch this episode in particular if you’re using Facebook’s currently-being-rolled-out “Timeline” feature – which essentially provides a complete history of your time on the site. Fortunately, the difference between The Entire History Of You and The Entire History Of You On Facebook is that the latter records only what you want it to.

I just wish it would have a breathaliser feature.

You can watch all three episodes of Black Mirror until mid January on 4oD, which I recommend you do, because they are excellent.

Toodles,

Pat

Posted on Fri 23 Dec in Review with No Comments

Film Review: Westworld

“Have We Got The Holiday For YOU!” beams the advert for the fictional theme park Westworld.

The introduction to the 1973 film of the same name is a promotion explaining what Westworld is and why it’s worth the staggering (in 1973) $1,000 per night fee:

It’s a utopia where you can fulfil your desires with no consequences: sheriff a town, start bar brawls, be treated like a roman emperor by swathes of servant girls, even have a gunfight to the death. You can do all of those, and never fear repercussions – or any danger. Why? Because all those around you are robots: near-perfect human replicas (the only way to tell is a lack of fingerprints on their hands).

They’re programmed to never harm a human.

After the intro, we focus on our two lead protagonists: a couple of gents heading to Westworld, one having been before and the other not. We are taken through a number of scenes, where the “newbie” is given a chance to build his confidence by standing up to the “bar bully” (and subsequently shooting him in the chest).

There are moments of doubt from the new guy – “how can I be sure he’s a robot?”, but these aren’t really dwelled upon as the film’s focus lies elsewhere.

I’ll probably not be spoiling the plot too much to say that the main focus of the film is on the robots and, how can I put this, their programming. Put it this way, I felt that Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park author fame) may have borrowed one of the ideas: a theme park where the attractions turn on the guests.

There’s a strong tension throughout the first half of the film, it builds it up very well long before the inevitable Bad Things happen, and when it all goes “A Bit Jurassic Park” the tension is retained with a long chase between our newbie and the aforementioned bar bully.

In addition, a sense of fear is retained throughout the film as it wisely does not explain what is wrong exactly with the robots, how they work, what they want, or even how one escapes the Westworld park. Too often films feel the need for exposition after exposition, and the lack of explanation here is refreshing and works well.

Despite its age, the film has some impressive subtle effects (the eyes of the robots are brilliant, and I’m only half-certain how they did it), plus some large, detailed sets that really draw you into the film.

On the downside, I felt that some potential wasn’t realised in it: primarily the effect on people upon returning to society after this consequence-free, yet realistic environment. Would their sense of morals have changed? For better? For worse? It would have been an interesting reflection of the ultra-real computer-game influenced world we live in today.

Perhaps this could be the focus of a sequel, although given Westworld was released 38 years ago it seems a touch unlikely. Still, decades on we now have a prequel to The Thing, so you never know…

Well worth a watch!

Pat

P.S. Westworld was on telly the other night, hence this somewhat dated review 🙂

Posted on Mon 19 Dec in Review with No Comments

Preston Is My Paris

Today a few of us intrepid student types headed over to the Phoenix Brighton to have a look at some of the free exhibitions on display there (part of Open ’11, see www.photofringe.org).

Amongst a variety of interesting pieces, including a mini-exhibition featuring interactive sound-based pieces* was a piece named Preston is my Paris.

This piece’s purpose is to provide a magazine filled with photos, images and scanned-in-objects from visitors to the exhibition. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, a person can head in and have a single item / photograph of choice scanned in and added to the collection.

It is a piece that, without visitors, is nothing. At the same time it cannot be directly controlled by any one contributor. It is an organic and growing piece based on the collective thoughts and ideas of the community.

Here’re some photos of what they’ve collected so far:

Preston Is My Paris - Snapshot 1
Preston Is My Paris - Snapshot 2
Click for larger images

I’ll be interested to see how this develops, as it should at best provide a true reflection of the various good, bad and ugly points of living in Brighton – with limited room for personal bias.

So, get down to Phoenix Brighton to submit your photo / item for scanning!

Pat

* One of which seemed to allow you to create a rather good representation of a rather bad Dub Step tune using just a couple of foot pedals and dials…

Posted on Fri 02 Dec in Gallery with No Comments

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