The very first issue of ↑HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has been published! ↑HAU is ‘an international peer-reviewed, open-access online journal which aims to situate ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.’ The times of being banned from high-end anthropological articles by paywalls, moving walls, and so on, has an end. And the line-up of authors in ↑HAU Vol 1, No 1 is impressive—for example: David Graeber, Marshall Sahlins, Marilyn Strathern, Maurice Godelier in the ‘Translations’ section, E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Julian Pitt-Rivers in the ‘Reprints’ section, …
zeph’s pop culture quiz #6
Beneath these bandages is one of the biggest and internationally best known stars Hollywood had. The absolute majority of the audience remembers him for his roles in movies totally different from the one the screencap stems from. Hence the movie is not so well known today. However, he himself regarded his performance in the movie as his best achievement as an actor. So, why is he so heavily bandaged in the picture? What happened to the character he plays?
Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be held, but published immediately by the system.]
UPDATE and solution (05 December 2011):
Again Alexander Rabitsch ↵solved the riddle in no time. Here’s his answer: ‘Rock Hudson! He got a new face and a new life—but didn’t help much. As he wants to get another chance he gets killed and recycled …’ And here’s Rock Hudson as Antiochus ‘Tony’ Wilson in the movie ↑Seconds by ↑John Frankenheimer (1966), shortly after the bandages are removed, for the first time wondering at his new Self:
And, close to the end of the movie, on his way to recycling:
Wikipedia says that ‘Seconds’ is sometimes characterized ‘as a science fiction thriller, but with elements of horror, neo-noir, psychedelia, and drama’—in two words and a danglin’ verb: it’s cyberpunk.
Since 2011 the minifigures the LEGO group sells on magnetic bricks (so you can place them on your refrigerator door) are firmly fixed onto their magnetic pedestals. As it seems this has economic and copyright reasons, and the licence holders of franchises like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ demanded the fixation—just if minifigs had no rights. Last year I bought some magnetic sets in Berlin’s LEGO flagship store. The minifigs were simply connected to the magnetic bricks in the usual LEGO way. Some of the sets I bought this year are fixed ones, which is a big annoyance. Not only to me, but to the whole scene. I tried to remove one fig by heating it up with a hairdryer. To no avail. But there’s a solution: ↑Glued magnet minifig removal. Another tutorial at thebrickblogger teaches ↑removing minifigs from key-chains.
To me it’s of particular interest how far these practices are driven by ↵afols. On the one hand in terms of research, trial and error, improvisation, innovation, and finally professionalization. On the other hand in terms of effort to document and spread the practices. And of course I want my minifigs to be free.
Whatever happened to ↑Matthew Santoro‘s movie project ‘Offline’ (co-written by ↑Liam O’Donnell)? The official website is gone and the production status is marked as ‘unknown’ ↑at IMDb. Seems that the only thing left is the gorgeous trailer (see above—watch it in HD and fullscreen) spooking around the Net. In a ↑post at screenrant the movie’s synopsis from the vanished website is preserved, plus a comment by Santoro himself:
I’ve been bleeding over this thing for the past year and it’s so great to hear this kind of response… This kind of thing really means a lot to me. I don’t think people realize that there are parts of this project that I literally filmed in my apartment using cardboard boxes, cheap hardware store lights, and a half-broken fog machine. I built the costumes using model parts and superglue. Most of the time my actors where doubling as crew even my dad (Charlie Santoro) who was playing that scary guy with the silver hair. I did whatever I needed to do in order to get the job done, and that’s all that mattered to me.
In the navigation menu above ↵cyberpunk has appeared as a new element. Here is what the new element and its dropdown menu are all about:
On the pages assembled in this menu I am collecting ↵motion pictures, ↵literature, ↵comics, and ↵computer games which can be called cyberpunk or cyberpunkish. A cultural artefact out of this categories qualifies, and is added to the respective list, if it comprises a sufficiently critical mass composed of peculiar core themes, æsthetics, settings, and protagonists.
At the thematic core there are the reciprocal effects between state-of-the-art technology and culture, society, the individual, and even humanity in general. The focus may be on digital electronics in all its guises and fictional interpolations, more often than not computer- and network-technology, but also on bio- and genetic technologies, and nanotechnology. It hardly occurs that technologies are rendered downright negative, rather fundamentally ambivalent.
In respect to the individual the motif of invasive technologies, up to human-machine fusion, is central. No matter if these technologies are mechanical, electromechanical, electronic, chemical, psychological, or consisting of combinations of these. Then artificial intelligence up to sentient systems, and synthetic humans, both genetically engineered ones and robotic androids. The motifs inevitably culminate to the basic anthropological question ‘What is human?’
In the same context the portrayal of omnipresent information technologies, up to fully immersive virtual realities and the cybernetic vision of uploading human minds into computer systems, powerfully poses one of the most basic philosophical questions possible: ‘What is real?’
In respect to society the topos of totalitarian regimes is a prominent one. Those may be nation states, but oftentimes are transnational, megalomaniacal corporations. They may exert societal and social control by heavily relying on ubiquitous and networked surveillance technology—thereby impairing civic rights. Results are dramatically stratified societies with embedded gated communities where the elites live highly privileged. Thus a whole array of contemporary and relevant ethical and political questions is addressed.
The core themes are reflected in, or transported by specific settings, protagonists, æsthetics, and strategies of representation and narration.
The stories oftentimes are set within gigantomaniacal metropolitan landscapes. Both on the levels of the street and the cityscape legacy to Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ (1927) and Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ (1982). Sceneries of urban decay on the one hand, and high-tech glitz interiors and exteriors on the other hand are tropes illustrating the tier society. The visual appearance of architectural and other artefacts depict retrofitted futures, blending downright futuristic designs with neo-gothic, 19th century, victorian, or even baroque styles.
In the case of movies and computer games the visuals are complemented by industrial music or soundscapes à la Vangelis—but I am still very much at sea in respect to the sound design.
Fittingly the time frames are recognizable near futures, maybe dystopian or even post-apocalyptic, and alternate histories.
The protagonists usually are outsiders, outcasts, underdogs, loners, and anti-heroes. Here the influence of hardboiled detective fiction and film noir is very clear-cut. This influence also is manifest in conventions and strategies of representation and narration
Mind that the lists, and this heuristic text, are very much work in progress. The plan behind all that is my attempt to show that what I call, conceptually following Foucault, the ‘cyberpunk discourse’ gathers ever more momentum, on a global scale is more influential than ever, and hence has to be included if we strive to understand our contemporary world.
I am continually designing, drafting, and rejecting tables, diagrams, and variables in order to get everything into the mold of a coherent argument that will make sense.
Although the lists are far from being complete in any way, I thought that others might enjoy them, too. So I put them online. Plus, the basis of my line of argumentation only can be a substantial, representative, and structured collection of data. So, if you got any ideas what should be added to the lists, don’t hesitate and let me know.
Merchandising is a strange beast. Manufacturer ↑Gerber Legendary Blades has issued an ↑Apocalypse Kit “as seen in” the TV-series ↑The Walking Dead, based on the ↑comic book series of the same name. I perfectly do understand that this is a limited edition (only two batches of 200 sets) directed at a niche collector’s market. Nevertheless I’m not sure what to think about it. Especially as I always associate Gerber not with tools (which is their absolute main line), but with the ↑Gerber Mark II fighting knife, which not only was identified as the killing-instrument of choice in the infamous and controversial ↑Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, but hailed also in more down-to-earth and non-controversial combat sports literature.
Finally—↑Alan Moore himself speaks out about ↑Anonymous and ↑Occupy Wall Street using Guy-Fawkes masks. Tom Lamont has done a telephone interview with Moore, and made it into a fine ↑article in The Guardian. Here are some snippets:
I suppose I’ve gotten used to the fact,” says the 58-year-old, “that some of my fictions percolate out into the material world.” […]
“I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn’t it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It’s peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction.” […]
“That smile [on the mask] is so haunting,” says Moore. “I tried to use the cryptic nature of it to dramatic effect. We could show a picture of the character just standing there, silently, with an expression that could have been pleasant, breezy or more sinister.” […]
“And when you’ve got a sea of V masks, I suppose it makes the protesters appear to be almost a single organism – this “99%” we hear so much about. That in itself is formidable. I can see why the protesters have taken to it.” […]
But more than 100,000 of the £4-£7 masks sell every year, according to the manufacturers, with a cut always going to Time Warner. Does that irk Moore?
“I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope.” Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. “It’s a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It’s not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don’t like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts.” Moore chuckles. “I find it more funny than irksome.”
[Moore] does not see himself donning a mask (“Be a bit weird, wouldn’t it?”)
↑The Earthscraper proposes burrowing down into the heart of Mexico City to create a new civic structure which preserves the city’s historic urban landscape while serving the needs of a modern metropolis. Designed by BNKR Arquitectura, the Earthscraper is an inverted pyramid whose base is the surface of Mexico City’s main public square and traditional center the Zocalo, and which is bordered by the city’s most treasured monuments–the Cathedal, the National Palace and the City Government buildings. Such a central site demands a decisive urban strategy that negotiates and reconciles the city’s seemingly disparate histories. BNKR Arquitectura’s pyramid does just that by literally cutting through and exposing the site’s layers of history.
The proposal is to dig down 300 meters all in all. Read ↑more at the Architizer blog, there are more pictures, too. In various comments around the web and the media, the futuristic project is hailed as an innovative and visionary solution for overcrowded urban spaces. Well, it immediately reminded me of the city in the legendary comic-series ‘↑The Incal‘ by ↑Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud and ↑Alejandro Jodorowsky (1981-1989). Already on the second page of the first album, ‘L’Incal Noir,’ we are treated to the sight of a monstrous sky-high architecture like in Fritz Lang’s ‘↵Metropolis‘ (1927). Only many pages later does the reader realize that the city starts at the planet’s surface and reaches down from there. Here is the story’s inglorious anti-hero, private eye John Difool, taking a dive from ‘Suicide Alley.’ I guess something similar will happen, when the gigantic sheet of glass, by which the architects want to cover Mexico City’s earthscraper, breaks.
zeph’s pop culture quiz #5
Here’s a teenage crush of mine. When I first saw her on the screen, I immediately fell for her. But the question is: Where is she in the scene pictured? The answer to the question at the same time is the title of the movie I took the screencap from. It features an absolutely high-calibre cast and during a decisive moment of the story outer space is to be seen through a microscope.
UPDATE and solution (04 December 2011):
Countess Irina Petrovski (↑Silvia Tortosa) is in the ↑Horror Express (Martin 1972)—and again Alexander Rabitsch ↵got it. Here’s the high-calibre cast:
From left to right: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing (slightly hidden), and Telly Savalas. The story is set in 1906. Lee plays Professor Alexander Saxton, an English anthropologist. In a cave in Manchuria he has discovered the frozen remains of a prehistoric humanoid creature. Via the Trans-Siberian Express he now transports his scientific treasure to Europe—hidden in a locked crate, and jealously guarded. Inexplicable murders happen and the horror begins to unfold in this hybrid out of horror, science fiction, and whodunnit à la ↑Murder on the Orient Express (Christie 1934). Saxton teams up with his peer and rival Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing). When the two scientists dissect one of the victims they make strange discoveries. Scrutinizing fluid from an eye of one of the corpses under a microscope they discover, among other things, a picture of planet Earth … as seen from outer space.
Some weeks ago we went swimming at the ‘↑Müllersches Volksbad,’ Munich’s gorgeous Art Nouveau indoor pool facility. After having swum some lanes I took a respite in the shallow part of the pool. I hadn’t been swimming for months and may have overdone it a bit on the first lanes. Feeling a slight dragging pain in my right shoulder, I hovered in the water, admiring the architecture, and rubbed said shoulder cautiously.
Submerged to his knees an elderly gentleman smiled fatherly at me from the stone steps leading into the pool.
‘Got one, too?’ he asked in conspirational manner.
‘Beg your pardon, Sir?’ was the only thing I could say. [He wasn’t using the correct word code, and I do not conspire without it.]
He explained that he suspected that I had an artificial shoulder—because he had two of those and was here for exercising them.
Some weeks later, while riding the tramway in the evening, we made the chance acquaintance of an elderly lady. It turned out that, like us, she was on her way to the Völkerkundemuseum, to attend the opening of the ↑EthnoFilmFest. Hence we took the short walk from the tramway stop to the museum together. I noticed that she carried a quite bulgy bag, and seemingly had some trouble with it. So I offered to carry it for her.
‘Ah, no, no, thank you,’ came the reply, ‘I am always walking a bit funny like that. It’s because just a while ago I got my second artificial hip.’
They’re all around us.
The observations stuck, but I only had the usual associations of the hardcore cyberpunk aficionado. Our neighbours the cyborgs—I, cyborg …
Some years ago, when I had problems with a slipped disk and surgery was unavoidedly indicated, I had to wait a bit in the specialist’s anteroom. From the coffee table I picked up a glossy magazine and found a story on a feat the wizards at a clinic in Murnau, Austria recently had achieved. A young woman had a severe paragliding accident and several of her vertebrae were crushed to pieces. The wizards removed the debris and substituted the destroyed vertebrae by custom-made titanium ones, leaving the spinal chord not only intact, but now perfectly protected.
When my surgeon came to usher me into his office, I pointed on the fine computer imagery of the wonder in titanium, and said: ‘That’s what I want!’ Frankly, up to date I do not know if it was in earnest or tongue-in-cheek.
‘You don’t need that at all,’ he replied, ‘I’m not going to put something into you, but will remove just a tiny bit of organic material.’
‘Yeah,’ I thought, ‘and then ↑Tyler Durden makes soap of it.’
Despite this association I not at all thought about the material consequences of prosthetics’ proliferation. Until I stumbled over a recent ↑AP-story at Business Insider on the Netherlands-based company ↑OrthoMetals, which ‘is dedicated to providing an environment-friendly turnkey solution to the collection and recycling of orthopedic implants and other metal remains from crematoria. […] The complete recycling process is under the supervision and control of OrthoMetals. All collected metals are first sorted and then re-melted to prevent the end product from being recognized and re-used as an implant. OrthoMetals is active in over 15 countries serving over 375 crematoria.’
OrthoMetals recovers about 200 tons of valuable metals per year. ‘After deducting costs, including transportation and the salaries for six workers, the proceeds are returned to the crematoria or to national burial associations, to be donated to charities of their choice, said Verberne [OrthoMetals’ director]. Usually the funds go to cancer societies, research institutions or any other medical facilities.’
UPDATE (23 February 2012):
Since two days ago the BBC now carries a story on OrthoMetals, too: ↑Melting down hips and knees: The afterlife of implants. [Btw, I was almost three months faster than ↑Cory Doctorow at boingboing ;-]