Scott Ellington's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

SeeSpeak

Let’s start with this:

http://www.ted.com/talks/john_underkoffler_drive_3d_data_with_a_gesture.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2010-06-02&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

I noticed that among the dissenting opinions in Comments, some people’s objections to the g-speak interface centered on the strenuousness and stamina needed for keeping one’s arms aloft, which led me to the notion of SeeSpeak — that the gestural language of John Underkoffler might be adapted and significantly refined by building a variation of it on the gestural (and facial) communications of a symphony orchestra conductor.  Which led me to think of the rapid evolution of motion-capture technology that made significant strides at Weta during the translation of Gollum’s character from page to screen.

And if a hundred-or-so musicians can read complex, nuanced direction in the contextually-meaningful gestures of their designated conductor, why couldn’t an operating system manage something similar; contributing visual information to facilitate apprehension by the collective audience?  That visual(/olfactory/kinesthetic/climatic…) information could be provided specifically by artists adept in those alternative media, working in collaboration with any/all agents of the production to create/recreate an augmented human experience as varied and wonderful as the human imagination is capable of concieving.

Well, there are copyright concerns that prevent the visual artists from freely incorporating cinematic elements of John Ford films into a production of Aaron Copland masterpieces, for example.  And who, exactly, would pay for all of this innovative and inconcievably expensive creative collaboration?  I have not a clue.  Maybe he does:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lessig_nyed.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2010-06-02&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

but I’m inclined to doubt it.  So I started thinking about stuff I read here:

http://brandsplusmusic.blogspot.com/2010/05/rise-of-creative-thing.html

And I continue to ruminate on the idea that any generic renaissance faire is the nucleus of an EraFair in which various temporal points in our collective cultural history draw musicians, painters, poets and dancers together to recreate that particular creative period — at various, proximal locations in a city park — where passersby can become interested, initially, in the reach of the music, then the atmosphere of creation and the invitation to engage and, ultimately, study/play with practitioners of arts formerly-defined by whichever eras interest them.  A physical manifestation of creative peaks in human cultural history, open to every art-creator, student and fantasy-seeker (past/present/fictional…) just makes my mouth water.

Mostly, I’m thinking that g-speak, a newly-invented gestural language that controls a user-interface (and replaces a mouse, trackball or a pen-tablet) probably doesn’t have to be all that brand-spanking new; that conducting a band or orchestra is itself such an ecstatic pleasure that people do it anyway with mock-control over recorded music — so SeeSpeak is my way of theorizing about the interface of new technology with traditional, old, human quirkiness as a step in a more interesting direction than teaching people g-speak (which won’t necessarily make us better acoustic bandleaders when the power cuts out, computers crash and all we’re left with is one another).  I kinda like stuff that’s of, by, for and about people — so long as they’re hypothetical.

03 Jun 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Revisiting Hancock (with spoilers)

I revisited the film this evening.  It’s still disturbingly tame.  The review I wrote last July reaches most of the objections I’m going to raise presently:

A guy spends about 80 years on Earth without knowing why

  • he can fly,
  • isn’t vulnerable to bullets, knives, speeding trains…
  • doesn’t age,
  • moves with incredible speed,
  • and is about as strong as Godzilla.

But he’s also an antisocial asshole that nobody wants to know.  So he drinks a lot and leads a remarkably reckless and haphazzard, superpowerful existence.  He’s opposed to crime and evil, for no discernible reason…and to the best of his knowledge, he’s the only person on Earth who’s cursed or blessed with these attributes that make him a definitive outsider — with the unenviable tendency to punch gaping holes through his sexpartners courtesy of his superpowered orgasms:  Control issues.  Zeus, Christ, Lucifer…superhuman stereotypes to avoid.

With a wealth of comic opportunities to exploit, the film didn’t linger on the miscegenation topic of white Charlize Theron and black Will Smith as lovers who were made for each another (One man, One woman).  Nor did it struggle to evaluate the implicit value of lives saved against replacement costs of private and public property damaged by the recklessness of an inexpressibly lonely, brokenhearted, derelict superhero.  An asshole is anywhere your stuff becomes shit.  The step-mother loophole still bothers me, as does the choice to end the film by dropping an enormous corporate logo on the moon saying, I HEART YOU.  It feels like an unbelievably tedious patchwork of appeasements to keep mercantile feathers unruffled.  I loathe the taste of horsefeathers! 

Pitching Hancock to Jackman would obviate that ticklish race-thing, but Jackman’s Woverine already has that amnesia thing going, and…fuckit, Smith! and write around the implications.   Theron chooses Bateman over Smith for his more-sustainable values, and to willfully override the obsolete dictates of providence (by sticking with the dictates of prejudice).

Perhaps the most unexplored of several underplayed themes involves the central premise that Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron) chose to abandon her destined, natural (black) partner after thousands of years of ambivalence about his proximity and the normal lives they’d lead in a humanly-brief and permanent mortal bond.  How would that play in Tupelo, Provo, Cairo, or in theaters frequented by humans?  The backstory of their relationship is wholly delivered by Mary in fits and starts and half-truths that make exposition entertaining, but leave an intrigued audience a great deal less than satisfied.

If proximity is the Achiles Heel that dooms these two to intimate mortality (and happiness) — is normal, human life so repellant?  And how is Mary’s choice to deny her predestined (and frequently conincidental) entanglement with John a good choice?  If John is forever condemned to life without his definitive true love, where’s the happy ending for, you know, the title character?  Handjobs?

The other thing about Hancock that really, deeply bothers me, (apart from the far more meaningful stuff this entertainment carefully avoided confronting) is that fact that Vince Gilligan (the showrunner of Breaking Bad) is credited for co-writing it, along with Vincent Ngo — 12 years in development hell.

This new discovery of Gilligan’s involvement bodes ill for the satisfactory resolution of Walter White’s tale.  Will monumentally interesting, contemporary real-life issues of good/evil, strength/vulnerability, power/compassion, partnership/estrangement/betrayal/family/ruin/legal system/property/addiction/life be treated with comic and xfx reckless abandon as in Hancock?  or will Walter’s many problems resolve more interestingly than John’s did?  Tune in until the end of time…or series cancellation…suckers.

01 Jun 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment