What the Map Doesn’t Show

“Where the City Can’t See is the first fiction film shot entirely through laser scanning technology, directed by artist Liam Young and written by author Tim Maughan. Set in the Chinese owned and controlled Detroit Economic Zone (DEZ), in a not-too-distant future where Google maps, urban management systems and CCTV surveillance are not only mapping our cities, but ruling them.

“Exploring the subcultures that could emerge from these new technologies, the film follows a collection of young factory workers across a single night, as they drift through the smart city in a driverless taxi, searching for a place they know exists, but that the map doesn’t show. They are part of an underground community that work on the production lines by day, by night adorn themselves in machine vision camouflage and the tribal masks of anti-facial recognition, enacting their escapist fantasies in the hidden spaces of the city. They hack the city and journey through a network of stealth buildings, ruinous landscapes, ghost architectures, anomalies, glitches and sprites, searching for the wilds beyond the machines…”

Text: Where The City Can’t See, andfestival
Video: WHERE THE CITY CAN’T SEE TEASER from liam young on Vimeo.



An implacable syllogism

“This is the story of a man marked by an image from his childhood.” That’s the opening (the first voice) of Chris Marker’s film. The phrase broaches a story (the hero will travel in time toward that childhood image); the destruction of cities and the devastation of the earth’s surface have threatened the very reality of the present and have thus let loose temporal virtualities normally locked up or held captive in the past (the past consisting only of a series of images that have become autonomous, tied to the living only by some affect or trauma). The fiction of La Jetée is thus a certain kind of work—whose object is the film’s hero—concerning the paradoxes of memory, concerning the inclusion of the past that lives on within the hero as an image, as a secret that the laboratory experiments in the underground camp will try to make him confess. The realization of the confession comes with the death of the hero himself as he relives a moment of his past, as he meets once again the girl whose image has haunted him.

“So it’s a science-fictional hypothesis that underpins the organization of this film and, with particular emphases (the distance of the narrator, the modesty of the novelist), regulates the metaphysical problems that are then rapidly elaborated into a science-fictional argument in such a way as to render the paradoxes of lived time with the exteriority of an implacable syllogism. That syllogism is what leads the living human to meet his death, a death whose image is his secret.

“But why that hypothesis? The originality of Chris Marker’s film obviously resides, as has been regularly demonstrated, in the work of the image itself: a framing of the most obscure zones of memory’s fragility and unpredictability; and a montage that replicates gaps in recollection. The image itself constitutes an unusual organization of storyline: Marker invents a type of narration that literature cannot often produce. Literature here appears only in the voice of the narrator-commentator: it borrows its script from the narrative mode of a Kafka…”

On La Jetée by Jean-Louis Schefer, Translated by Paul Smith, via Chris Marker | Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

The past always glows

“It’s hard to think about the present because the past always glows…

“In the good old days before cappuccino and sushi and ruccola went global. Well before red peppers spiced up our salads. Before adventure became a sport, and nature became a spot. In the good old days the Paris Metro smelled like cigarettes and lofts were reserved for only the New-York elite. Before seat belts beeped when they weren’t fastened and spies really did come from the cold. Before cell phone conversations were banned on trains. Before Googling became an aspect of human behavior. In the good old days when every second person was not a hero and every third was not a victim and every fourth was not stressed. Before we had an identity on line. Before toll-free numbers were delocalized and sent to Africa or India. Before the idea of a preemptive war existed. Before we thought there would never be any billionaires in Moscow. Before beach volleyball and snowboarding became Olympic sports. Before fusion cooking and before liquid nitrogen was used to make minute ice cream. Before you could get an espresso in Hamburg or Milwaukee. When Thai food was exotic and cholesterol a curious word used only for Scrabble games. In the good old days when people walked on the moon and snow covered London for weeks during Christmas time. No, it’s too far away, I don’t remember all that. It never happened.

“A time when things were not weird, but strange, and then they were really strange, a David Lynch kind of strangeness. In those disconnected days before Blackberries and SPVs. Before voicemail became the interlocutors in our lives. Before Godlum appeared on the screen. What a great actor. Before the Euro and before a wall was erected in Israel. Before democracy and free market became the only alternative. When New Zealand was not yet known as the set of The Lord of The Rings. Before people started using “like” to make similes about anything and everything. Before Shrek appeared on screen and everyone loved him because like us, he doesn’t understand any metaphors. When you could smoke in bars in New York and Los Angeles. Before the Bush Dynasty. when Schwarzenegger was the Terminator and not a governor. Before IPods, EBay, Viagra and spell-check. Before Western architects were lining up to build towers in China. Before people start ordering salads at McDonald’s. Before music became our soundtrack. Before clothing became a costume. Before we start looking at the world as a standing stock of material. Before the word “tree” did not mean “wood”. [1]

“Every technology is a metaphor. That much is clear. The difficult matter is to sort out whether this is a primary or secondary function. Which is to say, did we initially make this universe of instruments, machines, tools, and devices as a way of talking about our condition, only then to discover, post hoc, that all the amassed hardware also proved useful for solving various practical problems (washing dishes, killing neighbors, etc.)? Or did it work the other way around? Did we set out to kill our neighbors, say, and then notice that the sword was a lovely way to say “violence”?” [2]

[1]. Philippe Parreno & Rirkrit Tiravanija, Stories are Propaganda. Original Soundtack text of Stories are propaganda, a film by Philippe Parreno and Rirkrit Tiravanija, shot in 35mm in China in 2005, transferred on DVD and of a duration of 8’40”.

[2] Yara Flores, Spirit Duplication, Cabinet, Issue 39, Learning Fall 2010.

Image: The destruction of Neo Tokyo from Katushiro Otomo’s Akira. Via Sci-Fi-O-Rama.