Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Thoughts and Questions for ‘The Institute.’

Hello Everyone,

I found last night’s film really interesting, not only in an entertaining sense, but also due to the larger questions it raises that intersect between everyday existence, meaning, and community.

1. I found myself questioning why someone might engage for years with the Jejune Institute, and a couple commentaries came to mind.  Immanuel Kant once stated that to be happy, we require three things: Something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to (or hope for).  In our contemporary society, did the Jejune Institute perhaps fulfill two of these three premises?  Additionally, I was reminded of a comment that John Keates once made that the work of Isaac Newton essentially destroyed the wonder of the rainbow by reducing it to merely prismatic colours.  In a time when grand narratives of mystery and discover seem more relegated to historical texts than to contemporary existence, did the Jejune Institute in all of its absurdity renew that sense of wonder and discovery to a number of lives that may have seemed static and contrived in certain ways?  The ethologist Richard Dawkins countered such encounters in the preface to his book, Unweaving the Rainbow, when he stated “…those in search of beauty or poetry in their cosmology need not turn to the paranormal or even necessarily restrict themselves to the mysterious: science itself, the business of unraveling mysteries, is beautiful and poetic.”  This may be quite true for academics in the realm of the hard sciences or those who have found a definite passion, but in an unusual manner, it almost seemed that some of the participants gained some sort of wonder, meaning, or purpose from this project.

2. As with my comments regarding Darren Brown’s work earlier, I am curious how ethical and legal ramifications enter into such a project.  At times, I felt that certain aspects of the Jejune Institute had the potential to become a litigation nightmare, while at other times, I was wondering if such a project had dangerous potentials for those who became ‘too involved.’  Obviously, this concern is difficult to objectively situate, especially when placed alongside the thoughts in my previous question.  With all of this said, however, do such concerns stunt the inherent possibilities to create a truly memorable ARG experience?  Can we create a memorable experience without pushing boundaries of some sort?

3. The Medium article mentioned the film Frank as a similar premise for their next upcoming project.  I definitely recommend watching the film, or at the very least, looking up the theatrical poster or trailer, but with this said, are there any particular aspects that you feel are necessary when undertaking a similar project in the future?

4. Oddly, the overarching theme with Eva in The Institute somewhat reminded me of Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, a mystery/thriller film where a couple’s daughter suddenly goes missing during a routine stop at isolated rural truck stop.  After seven years of no leads, random belongings of the couple’s daughter begin to show up in the most random of places which would be impossible to occur by coincidence.  This bizarre plot leads to the theory of someone playing a (much more sinister) game with the grieving couple as participants, but renews hope to find out what actually happened to their daughter.

If there is an overarching narrative with the persona of Eva, did we attain a concrete sense of meaning from The Institute, or did this documentary simply stir up more questions than answers?

Thu, November 22 2018 » Future Cinema