Friday, December 17, 2010

An affair to remember

Having a 13 year old son has its advantages. Apart from the fact that you get to learn a lot about yourself, you also get introduced to a whole new world. The world of video games. It is a completely different culture, a civilization on its own populated by young and the young at heart. They have their own lingo, customs and traditions.

My son has reached that age when let's say, mom, as I was, is no longer needed, badly.  But still he is growing up, which he should, by the way.I watch amusedly, sometimes in exasperation, the disbelieving look that he throws at me at times, -- which, I have to admit, is well-deserved by me --and the overall dissatisfaction at the state of affairs, where he has to follow certain rules around the house, not unlike any typical teenager. But there are times when I feel I am in the circle -- as when I ask him to talk to me about his video games. Then -- boy, can he talk! Out pour all the words. I wonder at the enthusaism, the excitement,  the depth of knowledge, and of feeling.

The other day  I brought to his attention that the VGA - Video Game Awards-was to be aired on TV . Oh, was I the loved mom that evening! We watched it together. I saw something that I would have never seen, if not for him. I enjoyed it, and marvelled at the advance of  technology. Of course it was a young world. But it was exciting, and alive!J knew all the games, the merits, the drawbacks, it was his world.

When I learn that one of his videos on these games that he posted on his channel on youtube, has been watched by over 10,800 viewers, I am spellbound. What is the fascination of these games? Being in control? Being able to interact with the characters? To be a character in the unreal world? He tells me the military finances many of these games.If that is true, this is not just a game anymore. It is going to be a way of life.

Again, my thoughts about that blurring of boundaries between the real and the unreal is being proved to be real. There are commercials being shown now where you can interact with the person. Soon there are going to be movies and TV shows where the viewers play the roles along with the "unreal" characters. 3D participation and time lapse speed would be nothing. Real people living unreal lives. Other lives. Other people's lives. Not just a "second life". The whole world becomes a fantasy world. Which actually it very well maybe. " Maya". We could  defeat death and destruction through a virtual life. Or have perpetual death and destruction, but then like a character in a video game jump right back up to life.

The viewer in the  theatre or before the TV set at home is kind of in love with what is going  on screen. At least as long as s/he watches it, there is a relationship. Once that barrier between the real and the imagined world dissolves through technology, the affair can continue, even stronger. The viewed and the viewer become one.

These days anyone can be an actor, a singer, or writer or anything they choose to be. There are people to see, means to put it all out there. We can make movies, be in them, show them to all. Creativity is flowing all over the net. What was once accessible to just a handful of people is available to all now. Be it knowledge, or creativity. Instead of one genius who seem to know stuff intuitively, there will be a million who can easily clone themselves to be that genius. They can be characters interacting with characters, and the characters themselves. Gradually, new creatures/beings and a new life will form.

As I watch the "unreal" characters speak to the audience, and the overwhelming response  of the admiring audience, these thoughts swirl in my head. I want to clear it, so inspired by a medieval themed game, I yell out, to my husband, waving my tankard, " Inn-keeper!more wine please!" He is not amused. So there is one who doesn't go for role-play! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Artisten (The Artist) by Jonas Grimås

It was in 1987 when I was a Literature student at this girls' college back home, that a professor from another university visited us. He read a poem about a train (not his, I remember that) and held up this black and white picture of a train winding up a hill, with trees on either side of the tracks, as he read it. ( We did not have TV)The reading wasn't that rhythmic, but I fell in a trance imagining that train as it chugged its way round the bend, and up the hill, "smoking" all the way. I could see the green of the trees, the blue of the greyish blue of the skies, and above all, hear the rhythm of the train.

There is a romance about trains, and the people who travel on those, and no wonder they have been used in movies and songs and commercials and fashion shoots. Murders take on more mystery, forbidden love gets spicier -- all in that rarefied ambience of trains. Be it the Murder on the Orient Express, or that Vogue shoot with an exotic Diddy and his lady, or the latest Chanel ad with Audrey Tatou, trains and train stations thrill us. And it is the same for me.

But add to that, my fatal fascination with the blurring of boundaries -- between realities, the real and the unreal, between genres, between art and life -- I will get hooked. That is what I felt when I saw this short movie named  Artisten, by Jonas Grimås made in 1987. What I saw in my classroom back then, and what I see now in this movie, I should say it has been a gradual journey that has reached a particular culmination. The journey won't end here, surely.  Obviously I am sure much has been written about this brilliant, award winning movie by many and much better qualified people than me. But these are my thoughts.

The Artist is about the blurring of boundaries. In a way, it is  a metamovie, a movie which explores the making of a movie.The synchronous art of the foley artist-hero, and the movie he was showing, is captivating.The final explosion in the movie within the movie, and in the theatre fittingly tops it. This movie is layered and the themes are so many that it makes you think on so many different levels -- an embarrassment of riches, as they say. It is a big, short movie. I cannot get that artist out of my mind, the passion, and the belief. Nothing is beyond bounds for him. Not at all worried about going overboard! He does it with panache. Nor can I forget the would-be artist. There is a sadness and a humor in both the persons that touch one. Do I imagine that sadness? Am I coloring it with my feelings?In moments of self-doubt, which are many, by the way, I think I am that person. Of course I want to be the hero, but will I ever?They are pathetic and heroic at the same time, like us. Maybe I am way off mark in my understanding of the film, but I guess the movie is in the mind of the viewer now.
see the film here :

may 17  2011 update : there seems to be something to the name? another "Artist" is making waves in Cannes! I think i should call myself "The Artist" -- maybe that would help! ;)