Future Cinema

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

Questions on Jagoda + Brakhage

1. Jagoda points to network aesthetics as having the potential of invoking the sublime. This reminded me of our conversation about No Man’s Sky, and the feeling of awe inspired both by scenery and the AI. Has anyone had any other experiences of the technological sublime?

2. Did anyone develop a working definition of “network” while reading Network Aesthetics? I find that I am struggling to define it for myself. If networks can refer to such a wide variety of social, societal, historical, spatial, etc… structures, can almost anything with a structure be a network? Is that the point?

3. Are Stan Brakhage’s painted films immersive? Or is the idea of “closed eye vision” (implying a look inside oneself) opposed to immersion?

4. Another Brakhage question: From a curational/programming perspective, how did we feel about the format of the screening? Would you have benefited from contextualizing info–short introductions, etc– between each film? Or was it beneficial to not over-intellectualize the content, and experience it all as one onslaught? How might more context foster or break immersion?

Wed, November 14 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Derval

Network Aesthetics & Brakhage

  1. Jagoda makes the distinction between the human and nonhuman dimensions of networks. What constitutes this nonhuman side of network? Is it even possible to have a purely nonhuman dimension of network? Could you please elaborate on this dichotomy?
  2. I do not see the importance of recognizing such films as a distinct genre or subgenre, but fiction films such as Love Actually, Traffic, and Nashville are categorized by Jagoda and critics as “criss-crossers” or “multiprotagonist films.” Does this apply to documentaries such as Science Fair and Mad Hot Ballroom? Can documentaries be seen in the same light?
  3. Can we attribute the reason why Journey Stories stand out in terms of its content and praise of the game compared to other game forums to the game’s aesthetics and style which appeals to a certain crowd or does the game truly possess transformative powers? I am a bit skeptical since the player’s account which Jagoda includes in Chapter 4, hints at depression and escapism: “I simply had nothing else to do…it felt like that was exactly where I was supposed to be…because my terrible day had put me in a fragile, emotional state already.” What do you think?
  4. I have immense respect for Brakhage and his craft, but I simply could not sit through the entire screening of his Painted Films. ‘Poetic’ work does not equate to soothing or fluid visuals, but I found his films to be violent in its delivery and disconnected. Filmmaker, Nathaniel Dorsky, speaks of Brakhage’s films as “a body of silent work of fragile beauty,” “a poetic exploration near the pinpoint of mind where light, spirit, and body come upon one another.” My experience was that of headache, discomfort, and unpleasantness. Am I the only one who felt this way?

Wed, November 14 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Choi

“Network Aesthetics” Questions

Hello everyone. Excited for our class this evening. Wanted to briefly touch on a few questions I had when I found myself reading through as much of Jagoda’s Network Aestheticsas I could. I found it to be a bit of a dense read, and one filled with numerous examples that I had minimal experience with previously.

1.)  Jagoda briefly references Don DeLillo’s Underworldas an example of a text which emphasizes network aesthetics, thought the interconnectivity of characters and events. Can you think of any examples of such work in other forms such as films, plays, video games, and the like? What was it like experiencing those stories in such a manner?

2.)  Jagoda discusses the ways that networks have moved into our language to describe fluid and indecipherable things, such as the term “terrorist network.” In what ways does the term “terrorist network,” play on technophobic fears, as well as misunderstandings of networks as well? What would be a possible alternative to the term “terrorist network?”

3.)  Jagoda introduces a new concept titled “network realism,” focusing on marrying his understandings of networks with pre-established notions of realism in art. Is it possible to do the same with other artistic movements, for example, could a “network surrealism” be possible? Would such a concept be nightmarish, or fascinating?

4.)  The section on networked games seems to touch on previously explored territory regarding developments in gaming and the supposed importance playing digital games with others. Online gaming has thus grown into a phenomenon explored by Jagoda within Network Aesthetics. In what capacity has the rise of digital gaming networks changed the textual content of games both for the better, and for the worse? Is it possible that online play has hindered the proliferation of the diversity of game possibilities more than it has helped? Furthermore, consider the changes in gaming culture and acceptance afforded by online play. Did the rise of online networks legitimize gaming in unforeseen ways?

Wed, November 14 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Thomas

Brakhage, Anthropy & Jagoda – So many things!

Hi all!

I’m late on last week’s questions, but on time for this week!

First, Brakhage:

What a screening last week…! Such a combination of interesting, arresting, tedious, trying, upsetting, beautiful, thought-provoking and more. The silence; the sitting in a blackbox rather than able to move around in a gallery; and the strobing quality of colours… I went home in something of a daze, unsure what I was feeling. The subway felt particularly strange following the screening. As did talking to my partner. I felt removed and in another world. Initially (and throughout the screening) I thought immersion was totally impossible – a kind of Brechtian distanciation that made me continually aware of the screen, the room we were in, the people around me, my body and all the thoughts running through me. And then after the screening, given that dazed-type feeling I experienced, I wondered if maybe I was wrong. Maybe there was something wholly immersive about that experience?

Anthropy:

So, the questions people asked are awesome. I feel like lots of ground has already been covered. I’m going to try avoiding repetition and share a couple questions that are still lingering/standing out to me as of today.

1. I found really interesting and exciting the way Anthropy homed in on the rules/constraints parts of games. As compared with Ibister who focused much more on affect, Anthropy (when looking at what games do) focused more on the constraints and resulting interaction. What are the parallels and differences between Anthropy and Ibister in terms of how they frame discussions and impact of making and playing games?

2. In Chapter 7, Anthropy offers a breakdown on how to build a game. A methodology for crafting. Did anyone have thoughts on this? I’m very interested in the “dramaturgy” of interactive art making, and curious about different models of/for craft. I found this interesting and useful, but curious about other people’s thoughts/input?

Jagoda:

1. Does anyone else wish we had another week on this book? I am not entirely finished yet, and am not enjoying zooming through this read. There is so much here! Anyone else feel that way too???? I feel this question and the ones that follow are very cursory and underformed. Ack!

2. I love this question offered by Jagoda early in the book: “How can we compare social objects in a world where most such objects, whether nations, ideas, technologies and economies, seem deeply interconnected?” — How do you respond to this? And then, as a counterpoint, in what ways have networks and our networked times made more visible the ways that nations, ideas, technologies and economies have long been deeply interconnected (i.e. it is not the networked age itself that has caused this interconnection — at least very least at the level of the State, though arguably not only at the level of State(s) — but rather the digital networking we now access has enabled this interconnection to be more visible)? And a further counterpoint, in what ways, despite the interconnection now possible, in what ways are nations, ideas, technologies and economies still disconnected?

3. Jagoda writes: “Limits are, after all, not merely markers of inadequacy but parameters that enable innovation and experimentation. A creative form’s constraints also mark the social limits and historical horizons of the human world from which it issues.” I wanted to note this passage, in part, because of the earlier point I was bringing up about the Anthropy reading, and the ways she discusses games/game design as (human and interface) interactions with/between rules and constraints. I’m not entirely sure what my question is here, but I’m curious about this. As a maker, I tend to agree wholeheartedly about what constraints offer. That they are necessarily places of innovation and experimentation. I’m curious what other threads and connections are here?

4. “… while networks (whether they take the form of metaphors, figures, visualizations, or infrastructures) can help apprehend various types of complexity, they are nonetheless grounded in the scientific, political, social, and aesthetic preferences of our time.” What is your take on the position that while networks seem, at this time, to be the encompassing and universal form that “explain(s) everything”… that rather, this view is rooted in our current time? And, then in contrast, is the tree really the lasting metaphor connecting all times? Yes, rhizomes, Deleuze and Guattari, yes. But even then, aren’t we still talking trees?

5. Let’s take up the questions Jagoda puts to us:

  • “If so many things and relationships are figured as networks, what is not a network?”
  • “If so much can be treated as interconnected, does anything escape connectivity?”
  • “…what comes after networks?”
  • “…if a network points toward particular logics and qualities of relation in our time, what others might we envision in the future?”

SO MUCH! My brain!!!!!!!

Wed, November 14 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: lee williams boudakian

Jagoda – Network Aesthetics Questions

Hi All – here are some thoughts I had while reading.

1. The formation of gestalt aesthetics are mentioned frequently in the section that focused upon maximalist novels, in which nodes of the network do not see the whole picture, but act as process and information relays for the entirety. Jagoda later references Deleuze’s concept of “societies of control”, in which the totality of our environment is under a system enacting control, inseparable from the perceivably enclosed structures in our society (eg. school, work, prison, family, etc.). Deleuze describes this as a modulation of control between these structures rather than discrete molds of control present in each of these structures. Are there parallels that can be drawn between our lived experience in a networked society where access to information can be obscured and privileged to few as a “node”?

2. Are the features and considerations of maximal novels able to translate to a cinematic context without losing resolution of detail? Would long form media like serialized television be necessary to convey the same information?

3. Do non-linear/multilinear experiences like network games result in more compelling networked structures do to agency within the system? Does this agency afford better linkage to representational “histories of the present” even within fictitious narratives?

4. Jagoda poses a question from Arjun Appadurai: “How can we compare social objects in a world where most such objects whether nations, ideas, technologies, and economies seem deeply connected?”. Is a solution to this problem to compare the relative neighbours of object nodes rather than the connected objects themselves or would this loose resolution of context for the objects?

Wed, November 14 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Rory Hoy

4 questions Patrick Jagoda – Network Aesthetics

A lot to talk about in this book! Some questions I’m working through.

1.
After being defeated by Deep Blue, Gary Kasparov, former World Chess Champion, played a far lesser known game, now known as Kasparov Versus the World (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasparov_versus_the_World), in which Kasparov played a crowd-sourced team comprised of the world, via the Internet. This is in many ways similar to Twitch plays Pokemon that Jagoda mentions on page 24. Are these “Democracy Mode” games a ways in which we escape and/or resist the sort of toxic networks that Jagoda imagines on page 18, based in surveillance, capitalism and terror? I am thinking through how every network device I use enabled my own surveillance and contributes to capitalism in no small way, and so I’m curious if there are ways to be within these networks while also resisting them, and/or using their tools to reveal and exploit ruptures within the notion of games as “monolithic structures” (146).

2.
In “AIDS and its Metaphors” (1988), Sontag dedicates space to paralleling the perception and metaphoric treatment of AIDS, and illness at large, to the proliferation of computer viruses just beginning to take hold; in fact, this conflation of illness and cyberspace was also present in one of the earliest email scams was wherein users were sent an email informing them that they had AIDS infecting the computer with fake invoices to be paid to companies in Panama. Why do you think the idea of the viral, and the fear of the virus was, and continues to be such a persistent metaphor in our contemporary networked world? How is a virus different than a glitch or accident (page 78, 100) or the types of productive disruption Jagoda sees in games like Between (164)? What is it about a virus’s characteristics that lends it this power and how might we identify and resist the, often false and inflammatory alarms, that metaphors of virus raise (thinking of foreigners “infecting” homelands, for example)

3.
On page 146, Jadoga quotes Mackenzie Wark in explaining that the single-player stand-alone game may eventually be an “orphaned form” similar to silent cinema. The most obvious difference then between silent cinema and contemporary cinema is the absence of sound, and while we know that silent cinema was never truly silent, Wark’s comparison seems to imply that it is an entirely different sensory experience to play alone versus playing together. If this is true (and it might not be!), what are the “senses” that a player “gains” access to by playing in a network as opposed to alone? Is it that certain senses are heightened? Do we expand our sensoriums to gain access to senses, or sensations, we can’t have alone?

4.
Whereas Vivian Sobchack discusses the positive “non-knowing” that the body makes sense with (i.e. generates its own knowledge of the world through sensory reactions), Proctor is pointed to as highlighting “Agnotology” (the study of ignorance) on page 58 wherein networks create a “layered ignorance”. Similarly, Jagoda points to “dark play” wherein players in games don’t know that they are playing, as an exciting and essential component to ARGs (192); as well, Jagoda also points to the not-knowing that arrises from playing Between, wherein the two players work collaboratively without knowing what the other is doing or saying. When designing or making, what role does “not-knowing” play, in terms of sensual experience, willfully and unwillfull ignorance, miscommunication etc? If mastery and skill is essential to “flow” as discussed previously in other texts, what does ignorance and not-knowing do to and for an audience, player, user?

Tue, November 13 2018 » Future Cinema, Future Cinema 2, McLuhan, distributed networks, surveillance » No Comments » Author: Aaron

Dun Dun Dun…

First smart glasses retail store!

https://venturebeat.com/2018/11/13/north-formerly-thalmic-labs-opens-its-first-focals-smart-glasses-retail-stores/

Tue, November 13 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Choi

More Anthropy Questions

Hi all,

Had a great time at Brakhage last night. Was really eye opening, as it was the first time I’d seen his films. What a unique experience.

1. Anthropy’s analysis of game distribution raises many interesting issues. How do economics influence the creative aspects of games and their reception? Do the economics of games deserve more academic attention?

2. Anthropy discusses hardware in her book. Do we interpret and interact with games differently when we play them on different platforms (i.e. console versus PC versus mobile)? If so, do you have any examples of experiences where this was the case?

3. What about versions or game ports? For example, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has a staggering eleven (!) different versions (PC, Mac, cell phone, N-Gage, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, Nintendo DS, iOS, PSP), all of which are different in varying degrees. Does the fact that some games have many versions make them less stable as texts? How might playing different versions affect how we receive certain games?

4. Anthropy dislikes commercial games because she feels they do not relate to her person experiences, which is why she believes more people should make games. For you personally, do games need to reflect your experiences to be enjoyed? Might this tension be more intense in games because of their interactivity?

Thu, November 8 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Andre

Thoughts on Brakhage and Anthropy Questions

Hello Everyone,

I really enjoyed the Stan Brakhage film last night.  It was definitely a unique experience in terms of aesthetic experience.  As I was mentioning last night, I found the first five or ten minutes somewhat jarring in an auditory sense due to the silence and my physical relationship to it, but I actually felt that the lack of sound proved to make the visuals more effective as a soundtrack would have possibly inadvertently shaped the experience in unintended ways, and additionally, it would have also resigned the work significantly to given period.   I often cite Cage, but could help doing so once again last night, comparing the silence and visuals to his description of a visit to Harvard’s anachoric chamber, where the soundproof nature of the room led him to hear certain bodily functions.  I felt that the ambient nature sonically and the Brakhage visuals definitely complemented each other in an almost mesmerizing fashion.

  1. I was rather impressed that Anthropy mentioned my favourite game as a child, Another World, which was essentially conceived, designed, and programmed by Eric Chahi.  I felt that even though this game was originally released in 1992, it was perhaps a perfect example of why individual creative efforts can be much more impactful than large-scale impersonal ones.  When Chahi designed the game, he stated that his aim was to move away from interactions based on merely attaining numerical scores, and engage the player to actually ‘feel.’  As a visual artist, he tried to evoke his own personal feelings of loneliness and isolation through mysterious surreal settings in a dark dystopian world that little is known about to the player.  With this stated, his use of rotoscoping produced realism in movement, but he wanted the limited detail in polygon visuals to invoke inner imagination.

Another item that impressed me about this game was the amount of effort put into the soundtrack and sound effects which utilized everything from synthesized elements to samples of dot matrix printers.  For anyone interested, here is a mini documentary featuring Chahi and the game’s music composer, Jean-François Freitas, discussing how they developed the project together (If you go to YouTube’s settings, you can also translate the commentary into English).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0gv2bV9ok4

Eric Chahi and Jean-François Freitas Documentary

With my description above, are successes such as Chahi’s a one-off, notably in our modern context?  Can a single developer still work such as Chachi did and create something this personal that will have wide-ranging success, or is such individuality now an attribute relegated to small niche markets?

2. Anthropy described how greater diversity is needed in the development of gaming, which is commendable, but what is the best avenue to implement such a shift in very old entrenched practices?  A number of years back when I wrote for an LGBTQ e-zine, I remember interviewing an artist that had been part of Girls Rock Camp, which is a program designed to empower young female musicians to engage in the male-dominated genre of rock music.  She spoke quite positively of the experience.  Would similar initiatives be effective in the world or programming to bring greater diversity in terms of gender and ethnicity?

3. Anthropy praises the ability of platforms such as YouTube to open the floodgates of artistic expression, which reminds me of Shirkey’s comparison I mentioned earlier which equates social media as a modern type of Gutenberg press.  Some would argue that in any instance ‘voices and choices’ is a positive notion, but navigating through masses of low-quality content can also potentially dilute the ability of great projects to surface to their intended audiences.  Is the modern ease of project distribution an inherently positive development, or should we have certain reservations about this unfettered ease of dissemination?

4. I like Anthropy’s emphasis on games telling stories, but I also question how much certain mass audiences value the art of storytelling, especially less generic narratives.   At the risk of certain projects becoming incredibly esoteric in nature, should programmers attempt to strike a balance between individualism and accessibility, or is this a compromise which should be avoided in the ultimate pursuit of artistic integrity.

Thu, November 8 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Casey

Anthropy Questions

Hey All,

I really enjoyed seeing the Painted Films last night! My questions are relatively similar to the discussion points brought up during our discussion before the screening.

1. Anthropy emphasizes the importance of having spaces and platforms where the creation of games is solely an endeavor of expression and a journey of process, rather than products for financial gain. This could be challenged by her later acceptance of modding/extensions of other games as being valuable to a creative process as part of the work has been already completed and is ready to be used. Is the idea of free and untethered creation and expression of personal experience contradicted by the employment of these systems that have been developed through the lens of another’s world-view/experience?

2. There have been considerable improvements in distribution, creation tech and tools, and development hubs for indie games since Anthropy’s book was released in 2012, including greater use of engines like Unity and Unreal. In what ways does this mirror the proliferation of capable and portable equipment within the film industry?

3. Is Anthropy’s goal of having an environment in gaming where anyone has a chance to express their story achievable? At what point does the ability to create without prior learning change from meaningful expression within a medium to ignorance of procedure and function of the medium? Is it necessary for one to obtain an element of literacy prior to experimentation and at what granularity is it deemed satisfactory?

4. Is there an area within future cinema for zine-like creation and distribution? Are the toolkits allowing for quick VR or AR experiences accessible financially and able to be understood without instruction?

Thu, November 8 2018 » Future Cinema » No Comments » Author: Rory Hoy