modern times

It must have been four, five, or more years ago, when I had a conversation on the anthropology of work with one of my three teachers, ↑Kurt Beck. Somewhere into our talk Kurt mentioned Chaplin’s ‘↑Modern Times‘ (1936), associating the famous scenes of Chaplin at the assembly line with instances of workers ‘fighting against the conveyor belt,’ described in ethnographies of work. The gist was that workers at assembly lines by their practices not necessarily do fight metaphorically against their bosses, or even commit sabotage. Happens, of course, but isn’t always the case. Rather they actively ↵appropriate the technological artefact … Continue reading

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metropolis budget

All right, I am on my way to proof a point regarding the cyberpunk genre, respectively the discourse which in my view it has become. And Foucault really has me now, as I am creating lists, tables, and stuff for that. In respect to motion pictures variables of interest are budget (correllating with the faith the producing industry had in the project) and gross revenue (correllating with the audience’s interest in the project). At the moment I am concerned with the budget.     The idea is to make a comparison through time.     Now, the earliest motion picture … Continue reading

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pkd motion pictures

Meanwhile ten ↑works of Philip K. Dick have been made into motion pictures—plus one to be released in 2012. Here are the pairs, the novel or short story by PKD, followed by the motion-picture adaptation, in reverse chronological order of the release of the motion pictures. DICK, PHILIP KINDRED. 1953. The king of the elves. Beyond Fantasy Fiction 1(2) [September 1953]: 142-164. WILLIAMS, CHRIS. 2012. King of the elves [animated motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Animation Studios. DICK, PHILIP KINDRED. 1985 [1976]. Radio free Albemuth. Westminster: Arbor House. SIMON, JOHN ALAN. 2010. Radio free Albemuth [motion picture]. Los Angeles: Utopia … Continue reading

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2012 scorcher

‘Apocalyptic blockbuster absurd, say NASA scientists‘—thus headlines an article by John Harlow in ‘The Australian’, published yesterday. NASA is very unhappy with scientifically overflawed science-fiction movies like Roland Emmerich’s ‘2012‘ of 2009 (which they deem to be the worst), or Michael Bay’s ‘Armageddon‘ (1998). But they are quite fond of the cyberpunk genre. Here’s some water on my mills: NASA and the SEE [Science & Entertainment Exchange, a group of physicists and others campaigning for more authentic science fiction] also praise “good” science fiction films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner [1982], which convincingly portrayed a futuristic Los Angeles now … Continue reading

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la jetée

La jetée (English: The Jetty or The Pier) (1962) is a 28-minute black and white science fiction film by Chris Marker. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. It is an absolute future noir cyberpunk masterpiece and sets its creator Chris Marker (aka Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, *1921) on par with Andrei Tarkovsky. Film-noir elements are abound, including e.g. the voice-over narrator. The decisive plot-twist is the same as in a short story by almost forgotten German writer Alexander Moritz Frey [in German]—in the collection ‘Dunkle Gänge’ [Dark Passages] (1913), … Continue reading

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android orchestra

It is eerie like hell, in my humble opinion. On 06 December 2007 ↑Toyota revealed two new “Toyota Partner Robots”, one of them able to ↑play the violin. At the World Expo 2005 they already had a couple of robots playing trumpets and horns ↑doing the welcome ceremony—it was a spark of genius to have them play “When the Saints are marching in” while entering the arena. Astounding how the automata of the 19th Century are perfected. But yet another thing strikes me as eerie. Today everybody wonders and cheers at the androids’ abilities to play musical instruments, but nobody … Continue reading

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equilibrium

  The aficionados of course ↑can not accept cyberpunk to be a “long-since dead relic of the 80s,” but “consider it to be alive and well.” Not surprisingly I completely second that. Although ↑Bruce Sterling himself ↑sees it to belong to the 80s’ “Movement” and calls for a new generation, and although the terms “cyberpunk”, “cyberspace” and the like have virtually no meaning within my tribe’s, the ↵MP-community’s discourse [in said context “Gibson” again—or still—is associated with &uarrguitars and not with ↑a writer], I deem cyberpunk alive and well, too. Furthermore I think it to still be dramatically influential—and important … Continue reading

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spooknik

On 4 October 1957 ↑Stephen King was at the cinema. Together with the other ten-year-olds clustered around him he watched the morning performance of ↑Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the flying saucers started their attack on Washington D.C. the movie was interrupted and the houselights went on. Pale and nervous the manager entered the auditorium. “‘I want to tell you’, he said in that trembly voice, ‘that the Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it … Spootnik.’” (↵King 1993[1981]:21) For the assembled post-war kids a world crashed. The world of US-American … Continue reading

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