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Architectural Dystopian projections in the films Metropolis, Brazil and The Island
In the proposals which describe utopian constructions envisioned by philosophers, utopian socialists and writers alike, the uniformity of the needs, assertions and believes of each utopia’s members is considered as a given. Uniformity takes away personal expression, multiplicity and diﬀerence, essential elements of life as well as of creative expression, granting priority to the interests of the majority in the name of equality and justice. The determinism of this assertion as well as its inevitable bankruptcy has served as a starting point for the majority of dystopian ﬁlms. Fiction ﬁlms, such as Metropolis, Brazil and The Island, are commented below in relation to the architectural environments represented in them, the ideological basis of their choices and the timeliness of the dystopian visions which they put forward. According to Maria Luise Bernieri: “Utopians tend to forget that society is a living organism and that its organization must be an expression of life and not just a dead structure”. The paternalistic monomania of utopian visions becomes a leitmotiv in ﬁction ﬁlms describing dystopia, which demand that their members show ﬂexibility and adaptability to an established social structure and a political organization.
A starting point for the following ﬁlmic dystopias is the belief that material and technological innovations will abolish everyday life as we know it and upgrade all aspects of living. For the end of the nineteenth century this belief was symbolised by the faith in the machine, in the late twentieth century this was replaced by the faith in digital technology and later in biotechnology.
In Brazil, the mechanized everyday fails to deliver what it has promised: comfort, convenience and time saving. Domestic gadgets malfunction, bureaucracy commits mistakes and networks create a chaotic public and private space. Networks of water, heating and communications shape an intricate patchwork, taken out of the post-apocalyptic Walking City (1964) of Archigram. The stage design and commentary of the ﬁlm though is closer to pop futuristic illustrations of this English architectural group of the sixties. The scenography of the ﬁlm consists of an eclectic sample of the thirties and forties, while posters of the Ministry of Information copy propaganda posters of World War II. The Ministry of Information in Brazil, designed with Art Deco elements consistent with the overall retro atmosphere of the ﬁlm,clearly references the iconography and architecture of fascism in Eu-rope, in the footsteps of the pioneering Metropolis (see for example “Tempelhof Airport” in Berlin, 1935-39). The monitoring, the recording of personal data and a set of laws and rules for even the smallest detail of everyday life, make up an authoritarian controlling state. The optimistic fantasy of a total and rationalistic organisation of life in Brazil collapses because of what it did not leave place for: randomness, diﬀerence and the personal.
Welcome to the first article in Art House, a series detailing the evolution of art house films, and their impact on the relationship between art and cinema. The term art house refers to films that are artistic or experimental in nature, and are generally not part of the commercial mainstream. It is interesting to note that unlike many other forms of avant-garde, filmic avant-garde does not typically generate the profits earned by its musical, visual, and literary counterparts. Most artists who have produced avant-garde films have had to rely on other artistic media as a source of income, including Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987).1 However, there are several films that have crossed over into the realm of mainstream cinema, and have been both financially successful as well as stylistically influential. This article focuses on German Expressionism, one of the earliest artistic genres to influence filmmaking, and one that arguably paved the way for many other avant-garde styles and techniques.
German Expressionism is an artistic genre that originated in Europe in the 1920s, and is broadly defined as the rejection of Western conventions, and the depiction of reality that is widely distorted for emotional effect. Heavily influenced by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and El Greco, Expressionists were less concerned with producing aesthetically pleasing compositions as they were with creating powerful reactions to their work through the use of bright, clashing colors, flat shapes, and jagged brushstrokes. In its nature, the movement was interested in the relationship between art and society, and encompassed a broad range of fields, including architecture, painting, and film. Expressionist films were initially born out of Germany’s relative isolation during the 1910s, and quickly generated high demand due to the government’s ban on foreign films. The films’ appeal soon spread to an international audience, and by the early 1920s, many European filmmakers had begun experimenting with the absurd and wild aesthetics of German cinema. Two of the most influential films of the era were Metropolis (1927), by Fritz Lang (Austrian, 1877–1961), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), by Robert Wiene (German, 1873–1938). Similar to Expressionist paintings, Expressionist films sought to convey the inner, subjective experience of its subjects. news.artnet.com...
The DARPA Trip
We pause from our normal programming (or, maybe not) for a moment to take a brief – albeit hallucinatory – intermission. If the ‘robo-snipers’ and ‘automated kill zones’ didn’t freak you out then perhaps this will. Check out this video – DARPA’s iXo Artificial Intelligence Control Grid: 20 cyber-bugged minutes virtually adrift inside the surreal cytoplasmic warfare-obsessed cerebral distortions of DARPA’s techno-militaristic planning regime. If the war machine could dream this would surely be it. Seriously, this is some freaky-ass #.
The dudes over at Ignorance Isn’t Bliss put this together. In their own words:
This was constructed almost entirely using government / military quotes, animations, videos, images and photos. The narrative is sourced from government quotes from start to finish. It is the “official version”, if you will, but in an unprecedented format.
It unveils the governments numerous and ongoing programs related to A.I., “NBIC”, the “Global Information Grid”, nanotechnology, biotechnology, autonomous drones, “naval sea-bases”, space weapons, weather modification… or more directly: domestic and global totalitarian technological domination. American Imperialism meets Artificial Intelligence.
Needless to say, it plays like some narco-induced Rumsfeldian mash-up of war-play gameification, complete global surveillance mechanization, programmed battlespaces and landscape lobotomization, all timed to the frenetic and pummeling gait of a sci-fi drum ‘n bass soundtrack that is absolutely perfect in a swarming entomomechanophilic army kind of way.
I want to project the whole video onto a chunky battered bunker wall in some undisclosed location for a future subtopian meeting of the minds, so to speak, or, well, some other vaguely viable reason. Though, I wonder if the good ol' boys at DARPA have seen this and whether they actually like it or not. You never know about the unintended consequences. Maybe they will use it as a "hip commercial" of some kind. Either way, turn up your speakers, sit back and trip over the psycho-urban assault.
A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970).
Over the years, the expression has expanded to mean any confusing or complicated system. For example, news .lines include "Is Rep. Bill Thomas the Rube Goldberg of Legislative Reform?" and "Retirement 'insurance' as a Rube Goldberg machine". en.wikipedia.org...