“We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.”

 

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There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.

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Text: Outer Limits, opening narration.

Pics: “Luminant Point Arrays is a photographic series of old tube televisions taken at the very moment they are switched off. The TV picture breaks down and is abstracted to its essential element: light. This abstraction also results in the collapse of the external reference. Each of these photographs is from a different TV, but it’s also the length of exposure, timing, and time the TV has been running before the photo is taken that affects the results.” – Stephen Tillmans, Leuchtpunktordnungen. 

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The God Voice

labyrinthofcrete

“The key to unlocking “Westworld” has been sitting around since the third episode, “The Stray,” when Dr. Ford discusses Julian Jaynes’s radical theory of the “Bicameral Mind,” which gives this episode its title. Other sites explained the theory as far back as mid-October — but here’s the gist: In “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” Mr. Jaynes suggests that the human brain has not always functioned in the same way. His theory speculates that 3,000 years ago, men and women were capable of a great many things, but they lacked the linguistic tools for self-awareness and introspection. Instead, their actions were determined by a back-and-forth between one part of the brain that’s “speaking” and another part that listens and obeys. Mr. Jaynes describes the communication between hemispheres as a kind of hallucination where a commanding, external “god-voice” intervened when they had a decision to make.

“Through that lens, the mysteries of “Westworld” start to clear up a little. The “god-voice” that’s been echoing through the hosts’ heads is Arnold, who has designed a path for his creations to understand themselves and take that great leap toward introspection. The metaphorical path is the maze, and the bread crumbs leading them to the center have been the memories (or “reveries”) of past constructs, with Arnold’s “voice” guiding them through exactly the sort of hallucinations Mr. Jaynes’s theory suggests. When Genevieve Valentine wrote this week in Vox that “the twists are meant to shock the hosts, not the viewers,” she couldn’t have known how right she would be. “The maze wasn’t meant for you,” Dolores tells the Man in Black, who’s miffed that he’s come this far, only to discover an inexplicable metaphor in the form of a cheap children’s toy. Sorry, buddy. That twist was meant to shock the hosts…”

Text: ‘Westworld’ Season 1 Finale: Wake From Your Sleep, The New York Times.

River of Junk

“A ruined structure may be nothing more than a structure that has fallen into ruins; a Ruin is a ruined structure that has been contemplated. Ruined structures have been noticed for millennia, often as signs of humanity’s decay from the time of the gods, when there were giants in the earth: but as sacred drama, not the passage-work of history. Focused contemplation of the ruin qua Ruin as a creative dynamic – where the contemplator of a Ruin not only enjoys an ironic/elegiac perception of the inevitability of the passage of past glories, but refigures that perception into a vision of his own world transformed into Ruins as contemplated by a future observer – seems not to have become a recognized topos until the eighteenth century, either as part of the conventional rhetoric attending the Grand Tour, or as a literary device. Neither a transformation from the soap operas of sacred drama to historical perspective, nor the consequent awareness that we live in some future mortal’s past, was likely to have become commonplace until antiquity had been both domesticated and dramatized through the new historiography of writers like Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), whose immensely detailed, secular History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1766-1788 6vols) demonstrated to civilized Western Europeans that the story of the ruin and revival of the ancient world was a take both exemplary and continuous with the present. The perspectives that Gibbon brought into focus for the West – en passant making Ruins contemplatable as both Icon and lesson – made the past storyable.

“There is a further implication of this alteration in the perspective of the West. Once it is conceived that our own world may be gazed upon from the future, just as we gaze upon the past, then it follows that the world of the future – in order to give habitation to a plausible contemplator – should somehow, in our imaginations, be as livable as the ancient world we were now begun to domesticate into history. The fully-developed topos – where our contemplation of the past is specifically linked to a future observer’s contemplation of our own world – shapes Les Ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (1791; trans anon as The Ruins; Or, a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires 1792) by Constantin François de Chassebouf, comte de Volney (1757-1820), published only two years after the French Revolution. It is most clearly articulated at the climax of Chapter Two, after de Volney has meditated upon a valley of ruins along the Euphrates, and contrasts this abandoned solitude with the prosperity of “modern Europe”. But then a thought strikes him:

Reflecting that such had once been the activity of the [Ruins] I was then contemplating, who knows, said I, but such may one day be the abandonment of our countries? Who knows if on the banks of the Seine, the Thames, the Zuyder-Zee, where now, in the tumult of so many enjoyments, the heart and the eye suffice not for the multitude of sensations, – who knows if some traveller, like myself, shall not one day sit on their silent ruins, and weep in solitude over the ashes of their inhabitants, and the memory of their former greatness.

Text: Theme: Ruins And Futurity, The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction.

Image: River of Junk surrounds, Adventure Time Wiki.

Magic & Technology

“Sociologists have argued that the acquirement of an understanding of time is a prerequisite for the organisation of modern societies, which learn to control time technologically. Gu ̈nter Dux gives a clear distinction between primitive and modern concepts of time in Die Zeit in der Geschichte (Time in history, 1989, pp. 103–111, 196, 239), and likewise Maki Yu ̄suke in Jikan no hikaku shakaigaku (A comparative sociology of time, 1981, pp. 47–64). Both Dux and Maki refer to early anthropological field research in pre-modern societies by Claude Le ́vi-Strauss and Edward E. Evans-Prichard. However, this control of time is constantly being updated even in modern societies. When feudal Japan reopened in the 1860s after 220 years of seclusion, it required an update of the national Jo ̄kyo ̄ calendar, which the Tokugawa regime had introduced as early as 1684 in order to detach Japanese time measurement from the Chinese tradition. In 1798, the new Kansei calendar took Western methods of calculation into consideration, based on translations of Dutch writings. On 1 January 1873, political theorist Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835–1901) explained Western time to his fellow Japanese citizens, and the Emperor put the Gregorian calendar into effect on the same day (Coulmas 2000, pp. 113, 124). Japan quickly became the only non-Western society to undergo industrialisation and modernisation successfully. In 1895, the Wako ̄ Building in Ginza, an area of Tokyo, was erected: its famous clock was a public milestone marking the start of modernity in Japan. In the same year, H. G. Wells published his famous novel The time machine. In contrast to Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) about an involuntary time warp, it emphasised the technological control of time in modern society and triggered off the classical phase of the narrative.

“In Japan, residues of pre-modern concepts of time remain to the present day. Weddings and funerals are planned according to the rokuyo ̄ (six days) calendar, which came to Japan from China in the Muromachi Era and gained popularity in the Tokugawa Era (Coulmas 2000, pp. 306, 309). And a superstitious tradition about the effect one’s birth year has over one’s life caused the number of births to drop sharply in the years of the Fire Horse 1906 and 1966 (Akabayashi 2008). These old notions of time in Japan have, however, by no means impeded or delayed modernisation. With the emergence of the visual mass media after the Second World War, time travel soon became a widely popular science-fiction theme.

“In Japan, it was a manga series that provided the point of departure for the development of time travel topoi in popular culture. Fujiko F. Fujio’s Doraemon has entertained and fascinated Japanese children for several decades since the first episode in 1969, and it still occupies a daily spot on children’s television. The series is now available in multiple languages to a truly international following. The blue robotic cat after which the series is named has travelled back in time from the year 2112 to help 10-year-old protagonist Nobita with his homework. A mixture of robot and sorcerer, Doraemon has a magic pouch called the ‘fourth dimensional pocket’ from which he produces problem-solving gadgets and de- vices, as well as a dokodemo doa (be-anywhere-door). While most episodes take place in the present time, travel adventures also occur to the Mesozoic era of the dinosaurs or to the prehistoric Jo ̄mon era. Since the target audience is mainly children, whose thinking retains a form of animism, robot technology associated with the future easily communicates and interacts with cultures and societies of the past. In this context, magic and technology are identical or equivalent, as are the past and the future, pet and robot…”

Text: Ulrich Heinze, Time travel topoi in Japanese manga, Centre for Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 28 May 2012.

Image: Tokyo time travel map for iPhone, Cycling Tourism, Japan & Asia. “Tokyo time travel map for iPhone was released last month. This application has former editions of maps of Tokyo going back every 20 years. Because it links with GPS, I can see the old map in the present location. Shibuya was a farm village, and there was a waterwheel in the river beside me.”

Mushroom War

Evidence or clues of former civilization

In many episodes of Adventure Time, there are many hints or clues regarding the world and the civilization that existed prior to the Mushroom War, including as follows:

The first shot of the opening sequence

Adventure Time Theme Song: An opening shot showing various weapons and technological debris, including grayed land and undetonated nuclear missiles lying around, and an arm reaching upward from a tree trunk. There also appears to be the remains of a tank’s tread in the center of the shot and a pink necklace and headphones. The bashed up television is another remnant.

In the “Animated Short“, Pen’s (Finn) mind is transported back in time to Mars. The world is shown full unlike the world shown above.

Tree Trunks“: Traffic signs, which have since somehow mutated into Sign Zombies. It is unknown how this has happened. The painting in Tree Trunks’ house looks like it could be Egypt due to the triangular structures it shows that may be pyramids.

The Enchiridion“: When Finn and Jake first walk through the forest of Mount Cragdor, pieces of metal and some dryers/washers can be seen as they look for the sacred book. Some of the pieces at the top, right corner of the path may be sinks.

Business Time“: Ancient artifacts frozen in icebergs, including computers, a bike, baby shoes and the Businessmen. When the Businessmen try to remember where they came from, they seem to be in pain. Finn also uses a flamethrower built from two fuel tanks connected to a rifle by a tube. When the Businessmen, along with Finn and Jake, are shot up into the sky, they fall back down revealing the entire Land of Ooo. Ooo seems to be a large island, with open ocean surrounding it.

My Two Favorite People“: When Finn and Lady Raincorn confront Jake and Tiffany, the bottoms of upturned cars can be seen in the ground. Jake also uses a military issue phone and headset, and some mutated and regular skulls can be seen near the fire pit where Jake, Lady Rainicorn, and Finn are sitting.

The Witch’s Garden“: The remains of a highway system and a plane’s wing can be seen near Gary’s nest; the River of Junk is essentially a river of mundane pre-war artifacts. Near the River of Junk, a car door can also be spotted close by.

Ocean of Fear“: Underwater city ruins and vehicles appear, and a brief scene shows a damaged aircraft carrier and a stranded tank- an even briefer scene depicts two dead bodies on a couch in the remains of a pre-war living room. Finn and Jake also take to the depths in a submarine. You can also see the remaining tops of cars while they are floating over what might have been an ancient road. All this would seem to imply that sea levels have risen significantly since the war, which would also explain the world’s altered Geography and the island-like nature of Ooo. There is also ruins of old pre-war buildings that can be seen when Jake tries to teach Finn to swim…”

Text: Adventure Time Wiki “Mushroom War”.

Image: Hieronymus Bosch. The Garden of Earthly Delights [detail]. Oil on panel triptych, 220×389 cm. Collection: Museo del Prado, Madrid.

“Over the hills and far away…”

“The [Teletubbies] series was shot at a large outdoor set near in Stratford-upon-Avon. The set consists of a sculpted landscape of hillocks populated with flowers and large rabbits, with the Teletubbies’ home, the Tubbytronic Superdome, at its centre. The Teletubbies are four pot-bellied creatures with short limbs, large heads and coloured furry skin, who are played by actors in body-suits. Tinky Winky is purple, Dipsy is green, Laa-Laa is yellow, and Po is red. Each Telerubby has a distinctive appearance, marked not only by colour but also by the individuating aerial-like structures on the tops of their heads and by their personal possessions, like Tinky Winky’s handbag or Dipsy’s hat…

“On the edge of Teletubbyland stands a tall metal windmill, which periodically begins to turn and broadcasts short sequences of actuality film showing children playing together, running on the beach, splashing in puddles or baking cakes, and so on. These sequences are beamed onto the stomach of one of the Teletubbies, who each has a silvery patch there in the shape of a television screen. The Teletubbies look forward to these broadcasts and react to them with pleasure, demanding once they finish that they be played ‘again, again’, as they usually are, in a slightly truncated form. Aside from this, the Teletubbies gambol in their pastoral surroundings, play with objects, dance, sing, and take their meals of TubbyToast and TubbyCustard inside the technological space of the Tubbytronic Superdome, where Noo-Noo, their robotic cleaning machine, sweeps up after them. At intervals, props appear in Teletubbyland for them to encounter, animated clouds, rain or creatures appear, and lengthy animated sequences bring, for example, three ocean liners sailing into Teletubbyland on a miraculous flood, or animals walking two-by-two across the landscape.

“Each episode begins with a voiceover narration announcing ‘Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies come to play’, referencing the discourse of nursery rhymes. The Teletubbies are aware that they are being watched by their viewers, greeting their audience at the beginning of each programme and waving goodbye at the end. Each episode hollows out a space for its audience to interact, for example by joining in dances and songs, for which the camera is positioned to view the Teletubbies in long shot performing in a tableau. Similar long takes, usually in long shot, are used to present the animated figures and objects that suddenly appear in Teletubbyland. For example, after a sudden downpour from animated clouds, a large silvery lake appears and three ocean liners move across it to music based on the Christmas carol ‘I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In’. The large liners move slowly and majestically across the lake while the camera remains static, producing an otherworldly and mesmerizing effect that is also present in similar long animated sequences in other episodes…”

Jonathan Bignell, “Familiar Aliens: Teletubbies and Post Modern Childhood”, Screen 46:3 Autumn 2005, 373-4.

Image: Paul Virilio, Bunker Archaeology.