I thought I was watching a movie without human input when I sat down for an hour or so with Star Trek Out of Darkness so imagine my surprise when the credits ran to tell us that those people were real. Amazing how real people can be so machine-like. Amazing too that such an accomplished collaboration of producers, directors, actors and technicians can cobble up such a synthetic fantasia. Truly remarkable.
I little reflection though brings us quickly to the forces driving such a production and to be grateful the Internet is here. Books, movies, and music have, since mass marketing came into being, sold through outlets controlled by the producers and distributors, often the same people, so artists have learned to dance to their unsophisticated tune or perish. Happily, with the birth of the Indie conduits, art returns to live beside the mass trash.
With the birth of the Indie world comes the fostering of art for its own sake. For those who care about such things the rewards of this new freedom are there for the taking. It doesn’t just stop there. It doesn’t stop at Smashwords, Amazon Digital, You Tube, The Pirate Bay… but goes on, to the blogosphere where brave newspapers such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel – Oh Brave New World – pump out truth as they see it. Thank you Messrs Gates, Jobs, Wozniak for digital processing and the Killer App and thank you the US Department of Defence for linking all the lines to allow us to make the web the way it is. As an aside, while we’re there, rummaging in the distant seventies, give a thought for the Sinclair ZX81, available as a tablet size computer with one application that was a both a word processor and a spread sheet. The screen was a letterbox slot showing around five lines of text and the keyboard was a pressure sensitive membrane that gave it a rubbery feel, but it was practical: you could take anywhere, even in the rain, but you couldn’t buy anything. There was no advertising.
We have moved on of course, at an ever increasing pace, to desktops, terminals, bigger and bigger memories and screens and hard drives until we started to bring it all back: to miniaturize the hardware but to maximise capacity until here we are, were back at the tablet again, only you can’t type much on a Kindle or an iPad mini, and there is neither a word processor or spread sheet: for the most part it’s just pictures and websites, and lots of comics and oodles and oodles of things to buy. I don’t want my Mum’s ZX81 back but is would be nice if we could type on our tablets. I know, I know, we don’t type anymore – we provide clues for the software to write the story still …
Forgive me if I have made you think otherwise but I’m not looking back per se, it’s more a reward glance if you’ll allow it, and not to reminisce, but to adjust the perspective. Watching Clarke Gable and Jean Harlow is not as rewarding as watching Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, but it sure as eggs beats watching those Star Trek people. Down with movie junk: it stinks.