“Star Wars” Dialogue: II. Avant-Garde vs. Classical

Star Wars Dialogue is a 5-part dialog between Mike Thorn, Isiah Medina, Chelsea Phillips-Carr, Isaac Goes, and Neil Bahadur about George Lucas’s first six films in the Star Wars franchise.
MIKE THORN: Of particular interest in the Star Wars franchise is the relationship between Lucas’s avant-garde roots, and the way his experimental tendencies work with (and/or against) classicism. Do any of you think these films should be read more intently in terms of either one formal category or another (classical or avant-garde)? That is, do you think they’re “more” avant-garde than classical, or vice versa? Would your answer differ from film to film?
ISIAH MEDINA: Continuing the theme of revision, what is avant-garde can be revised as well, but I don’t think there is value in calling Star Wars avant-garde other than a provocation. It’s classical through and through.  In terms of artistic movements within moviemaking, I do think there needs to be other forms of relating what is avant-garde outside of decisions of film programming, as the same films included in one program can often been seen as classical in another context. A self-determination in regards to what is avant-garde within artistic creation also entails the ability for filmmakers to be critical and not rely on those outside to do that labour. Jean-Marie Straub may say that Stagecoach (1939) is the most experimental film of all time, but what is crucial is that the very division between classical and avant-garde is decided within artistic practice and not outside—the effects of such a decision are internal to how the artist re-thinks what comes before.
The true ‘avant-garde’ move by Lucas is his proposed museum of narrative art: to create a museum to say narrative art is over. It will relegate narrative art to the past, to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s avant-garde when he talks about wanting to make non-narrative montage work and carry on where the Soviets have left off and show it only to other filmmakers. Which is to say, he wants to experiment and subtract both the audience and the critics from the discussion. He made a popular film that shows the downfall of democracy as a children’s movie, so perhaps what is avant-garde is inventing a post-democratic form of art distribution and creation.
Since Plato we’ve known there are two ways of knowing, one of cognition, and one of narrative. I am moved that Lucas’s narrative work is absorbed in the religions of the world, in family, in toy models of democracy’s inevitable turn to tyranny. But as Ray Brassier notes, curved space-time, the periodic table, and natural selection are not comprehensible in narrative terms. Maybe non-narrative montage work can comprehend types of patterns in nature which are responsible for patterns in thinking and moviemaking can provide us with a new manifest image of the world. There are resources in the rigorous patterns of colour-coding, composition, et cetera throughout the series as a whole that can inspire future filmmakers wanting to leave mythology behind, or find a new model with neither father nor vote nor ancient religion. Let’s call picture-making of that type classical, but by enforced recollection it assists in a turn towards a future that may be cognitively avant-garde.
Straub relates a story where Godard said, “technical innovations go hand in hand with such an artistic regression that they no longer have any importance,” but I think instead we should stratify our categories and clearly see the different types of mixtures that can come about. To jump ahead a little, the split between avant-garde and classical should be placed within the question of art and technology. Let’s say there can be art that is avant-garde or classical, and its uses of technology can avant-garde or classical and we can generate different types of movies through a distributive function. To be artistically and technically avant-garde is rare but all permutations play a part in a spiralling trajectory of what movies can be. Is the knight coming out of the stained glass in Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) or the morphing in Willow (1988) avant-garde technical moments in a classical story? Or when Kip Thorne provides theoretical equations for engineers at Double Negative to write the code for the CGI representation of gravitational lensing (which lead to insights published in a scientific paper) in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014), I wondered what could be more avant-garde than cinema producing a new accurate representation of curved space-time? This again comes back to a Lucasian relation to the real as being one of toy models and I think the legacy of ILM will continually unsettle ‘classical’ relations between the classical and the avant-garde, institutionalization and independence, construction of new workflows and plastic experimentations, invention of forms and the very base those forms appear on.  
CHELSEA PHILLIPS-CARR: I agree with Isiah: I do not find the Star Wars films to be avant-garde. Though there are moments of experimentation or distanciation, they are over-all quite normative. I think that the use of certain formal tricks on occasion isn’t enough to render them “avant-garde,” really. But I am also in disagreement with the general trend of critics who call blockbuster films “avant-garde” or “experimental” (such as, recently, the newest Transformers, but even in the example that Isiah mentioned, of Straub and Stagecoach).
If we regard Star Wars as avant-garde because of Lucas’s roots, I would say it’s a simple association rather than evidence of style or mode. It possible for a director to encompass both classical and avant-garde in their oeuvre. Philippe Garrel’s first films are nothing like his latest ones, for instance, and it would be remiss to call Lover for a Day (2017) avant-garde in the same breath as The Inner Scar (1972)—just because a filmmaker has dabbled in both does not mean they are consistently both. Lucas engages so heavily with classicism in Star Wars, and I see little of tangible avant-garde within his films. But perhaps I am thinking more of consistent experimentation. In terms of doing something new and different, I’d say I find him to be over-valued, while the idea of doing anything new isn’t necessarily what I’d use as a criteria for avant-garde. Lucas’s engagement with classic style, historical reference, and pastiche to make a conventional film doesn’t feel avant-garde to me.
ISAAC GOES: Once again, these conflicting tendencies you point out, between the avant-garde and classicism, could also be said to be reflected in the films investigations of republicanism as an unwieldy binding together of contradictory impulses to form a somewhat unstable unity. Neil has pointed this out before, but the way in which Lucas uses CGI in the prequels in these sort of renaissance tableaux is very similar to the images produced by rear projection and a lot of other methods of rendering illusory spaces that made their first appearances in silent cinema and which still structure the way we go about thinking of special effects and illusion. So, on the one hand, Lucas is pushing the form forward, and making technological advances while doing so, but also doing so from a perspective that is in-line with the angle we have classically approached these issues of creating new worlds on-screen. I think this angle is something that is inherent to cinema, and the avant-garde insofar as it pertains to a particular art form needs to align to with a classical vantage point in order for it to advance the form it wants to push forward, otherwise what we see isn’t advancement, but the creation an entirely new form.  
NEIL BAHADUR: My answer would be that the films remain more or less the same form from A New Hope to Revenge of the Sith.  As Isiah said, putting an artist movement in a museum implies that that movement is over, so too we can really say at this point in history that narrative art is complete, and with the Star Wars prequels, Lucas finished it himself.  Yet innovation is not something normally associated with narrative art, and with the prequels Lucas created whole new worlds, something that had never been before achieved in any visual movement.  But while these techniques never rise to the, say, ‘avant-garde,’ nature of something like THX 1138 (1971), I agree with Issac that these technological advancements are necessary to the development of the form, and the one compromise Lucas made with his films was that he had to do it make them within a stunted artistic movement.  

Source: http://ift.tt/KPhYBm

BVC Announces Exception to the Rules by Doranna Durgin

Wild Hearts Book 2: Exception to the Rules by Doranna DurginException to the Rules
Wild Hearts Collection: Book 2
by Doranna Durgin

You Can’t Go Home Again…

But Hunter Agency operative Kimmer Reed has to. She’d fled as a teen, swearing never to return, but now–vastly changed, greatly disguised–her latest assignment has brought her back. Still, watching over a computer genius who also has her own bodyguard should be a piece of cake–after all, who’d think to look for Carolyne Carlsen here?

Surprise. Everyone. And so Kimmer plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game to keep her mission hidden, the genius protected–and the bodyguard far, far away….

~~~

“Imagine the pace of the TV show Alias, the smart, emotional whammy of Buffy, and characters you care about every minute.”
–Julie Czerneda, Aurora-winning Author of the Night’s Edge series

Buy Exception to the Rules at BVC Ebookstore

 

Share

Source: http://ift.tt/1eIlTf1

BVC Announces Exception to the Rules by Doranna Durgin

Wild Hearts Book 2: Exception to the Rules by Doranna DurginException to the Rules
Wild Hearts Collection: Book 2
by Doranna Durgin

You Can’t Go Home Again…

But Hunter Agency operative Kimmer Reed has to. She’d fled as a teen, swearing never to return, but now–vastly changed, greatly disguised–her latest assignment has brought her back. Still, watching over a computer genius who also has her own bodyguard should be a piece of cake–after all, who’d think to look for Carolyne Carlsen here?

Surprise. Everyone. And so Kimmer plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game to keep her mission hidden, the genius protected–and the bodyguard far, far away….

~~~

“Imagine the pace of the TV show Alias, the smart, emotional whammy of Buffy, and characters you care about every minute.”
–Julie Czerneda, Aurora-winning Author of the Night’s Edge series

Buy Exception to the Rules at BVC Ebookstore

 

Share

Source: http://ift.tt/1eIlTf1

Review: Vertigo Remade: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson’s “The Green Fog”

There’s a new genre in town. The first example of it I can name is Bill Morrison’s Spark of Being (2010), which retells the story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein using aged found footage. In this version, as Morrison puts it, the movie itself is the monster, assembled from pieces of the dead.
I may be missing earlier and later examples of this form, but so far as I know Guy Maddin and colleagues Evan and Galen Johnson are the first to respond to that celluloid gauntlet, with The Green Fog, a remake of Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) using footage culled from ninety-eight feature films and three TV series shot or set in the San Francisco area. I guess the movie is also in the genre of city symphonies, and has a nodding acquaintance with Thom Andersen’s pirate-video documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003).
The Madden/Johnsons have several advantages over Hitchcock: their film is only around half as long, has almost no dialogue, and doesn’t have to tell a coherent story: they simply assemble material which, sequence by sequence, reminds the viewer of equivalent scenes in the original. A rooftop chase is cobbled together from a half dozen of the endless elevated pursuits that climax noirs, TV movies and cheap thrillers of every stripe. Only one shot from Vertigo itself is used anywhere in the movie: the opening image (post-credits) of Jimmy Stewart’s hands grasping the top rung of a fire escape.
A score by Jacob Garchik and the Kronos Quartet recalls Bernard Herrmann’s original music, though not as much as it recalls his theme for Psycho (1960).
The movie was commissioned by the San Francisco International Film Festival to mark it’s 60th anniversary, and the filmmakers compiled it with no regard to copyright or fair use, simply taking what they wanted and distorting, accelerating, re-dubbing or manipulating it in any way they saw fit—meaning that the film may have a limited/nonexistent commercial future, but is totally uncompromised by budgetary limitations in terms of what material can be included.
So what’s it like? What it’s not like, you may not be surprised to learn, is Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Although it’s two-part structure does very closely mimic that critic’s darling, and it’s hard to imagine what the film would feel like if one didn’t know the original pretty well. Each sequence would have a kind of cohesion (a montage of men and women in restaurants, or by the sea, or climbing staircases) but the succession of sequences would seem bafflingly abstract. A friend of mine once argued, quite vociferously, that Maddin’s work, beloved by critics, was totally devoid of interest to non-cinephiles, and this would seem an extreme example, where the more familiar you are with one particular movie, the more you’ll get out of it, and the more of the shows and movies featured within it you recognize, the more fun you’ll have.
Fun is the order of the day: the movie’s affect is puckish and surreally funny, quite different from Hitchcock’s bleak romantic tragedy. The two do share a kind of swoozy delirium, but nowhere in Hitchcock do we see a young Michael Douglas in The Streets of San Francisco (1972) admiring his own bare ass from Basic Instinct (1992) projected on a screen. That’s another thing going on here: the filmmaking team include many shots of actors looking at screens showing images from other shows, creating a sense of Langian conspiracy and surveillance, a vaguely science fictional narrative about a green fog invading Frisco… This is so undeveloped in any conventional sense that I feel I may be imagining it, yet it added immensely to the film’s quality of density: it’s one of the fastest, most concentrated, most story-packed non-narrative films I can recall.
The Maddin-Johnsons could have made their lives easier, I suppose, by working only with the films of Hitchcock himself, which obsessively spiral around recurring themes, images and melodramatic situations, or they could have re-recycled the imagery of Brian DePalma, who seems to have stolen everything not nailed down in Vertigo, and then stolen the nails, but the approach chosen in undoubtedly the most amusing. To depict Scottie Ferguson’s numb despair after losing Madeleine Elster, they cobble together shots of Chuck Norris in Slaughter in San Francisco, a 1974 chop-socky adventure, finding in the martial artist’s Droopy-like countenance the perfect accidental embodiment of catatonic misery. The use of film noir reminds us how much Hitch’s work drew from or intersected with that genre, while remaining stubbornly its own animal, while all the Universal TV stuff reminds us of the rarely-acknowledged televisual aspects of the Hitchock canon (Family Plot in particular looks exactly like a Movie of the Week).
The whole thing also amounts, as intended, to a love letter to the Bay Area, that most photogenic of cities, and its rich cinematic history. Fans of the primary source movie may bemoan Maddin and the Johnsons tendency to make fun of Hitchcock, cinema, and their own movie, but to me there’s something both irresistible and exhilarating in this Frankensteinian patchwork.

Source: http://ift.tt/KPhYBm

DoublX Beta: First Powerful VR Website-Creation Platform

vr website creation

DoublX Beta: First Powerful VR Website-Creation Platform

“Online platform for VR website-creation, with powerful editor requiring no setup and no app installation”

Double XVR Ltd. (DoublX.com) has launched “DoublX Beta”, a powerful online platform that allows users to create VR websites without a single line of code.

Gal Rotem, CEO: “We have developed a new type of technology for creating VR websites, so for the first time anyone can create such sites”.

VR Content-Creation Made Easy: With DoublX, creators, designers and VR camera owners can take advantage of a drag-and-drop editor environment that features an array of advanced functions to create custom VR websites. The innovative product is based on unique RENDERER (DoublX intellectual proprietary) that operates on a regular web browser such as Chrome or Safari.

The DoublX system is the complementary product to our company as an innovative and advanced company. It is important to note that the integration with their product was easy. And they are open-minded to our needs at any given moment.”

DoublX starts with the drag-and-drop editor that features hundreds of options and website components. Users can upload VR videos and pictures, design, host and publish the VR website without prior knowledge. For example, use it to create real-estate, hotel or museum tours.

For web designers, DoublX opens a new category – the “VR websites” category, which enables easy VR web creation. DoublX provides the ability to use its databases to manage content and clients. This significantly reduces the need for a high-skilled developer that costs several thousands of dollars.

“White-Label” Solution: DoublX also provides a “white-label” solution for companies and brands that use the platform with custom “skin”.

What our users are saying: CEO Shahar Bin-Nun (HumanEyes Technologies Ltd.) chose the DoublX Solution as the white label Platform for the company’s online VR Website creation – Zone.

“The DoublX system is the complementary product to our company as an innovative and advanced company. It is important to note that the integration with their product was easy. And they are open-minded to our needs at any given moment”.

Notable Features Include:

  • Supports VR, STEREOSCOPIC, IMAGES, VIDEOS, Top-Bottom, Upside-Down and more media types
  • No need for prior knowledge in code writing
  • There is no need for expensive equipment
  • No need for app installation
  • Runs on a regular browser as a standard website

The post DoublX Beta: First Powerful VR Website-Creation Platform appeared first on Virtual Reality Reporter by VR Reporter

Source: http://ift.tt/1Haxbtw

iStaging Unveils World’s Most Affordable VR Capture Solution

istaging 360 vr camera solution

iStaging Unveils World’s Most Affordable VR Capture Solution

“AR + VR Startup Announces New Retail and Real Estate Capture Solutions” 

iStaging Corp. — a real estate retail-focused AR and VR technology company out of Taipei — unveiled VR Maker, the world’s most affordable spatial VR capture solution enabling any individual with a mobile device (Android or iOS) to create immersive virtual tours in minutes.

With sights set on democratizing virtual access to physical items and spaces globally, iStaging CEO Johnny Lee notes, “While many existing AR and VR capture solutions rely on expensive services or costly third-party hardware, iStaging has focused on maximizing convenience and affordability by leveraging technology people already use: their mobile phones. For as little as $29 per month, real estate professionals can now capture, edit, and share immersive 8K iStaging LiveTours of properties with anyone in the world.”

Via use of just a fisheye lens and rotator, VR Maker condenses hours of capture and stitching work into mere minutes. As iStaging’s flagship product, VR Maker currently sees use in over 180 countries and supports a number of multinational real estate firms in bringing renters and home buyers closer to the living spaces they want to explore.

Beyond real estate, iStaging has also announced a fast and affordable AR capture solution to empower existing e-commerce & brick and mortar retailers through augmented reality. The iStaging product digitization suite quickly converts physical retail goods into digital items to help retailers through AR-driven product engagement. Brick-and-mortar retailers have also leveraged the digitization suite to more quickly and cheaply plan storefronts. iStaging’s product digitization solution currently powers with some of the world’s largest consumer and luxury brands.

About iStaging
iStaging is a leading provider of out-of-the-box augmented and virtual reality solutions for the real estate and furniture industries. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, the company also has satellite offices in San Francisco, Shanghai and Paris.

The post iStaging Unveils World’s Most Affordable VR Capture Solution appeared first on Virtual Reality Reporter by VR Reporter

Source: http://ift.tt/1Haxbtw

VR PLAYHOUSE & CREATOR/DIRECTOR PETER FLAHERTY LAUNCH NARRATIVE VR EXPERIENCE ‘THE SURROGATE’

surrogat vr

VR PLAYHOUSE & CREATOR/DIRECTOR PETER FLAHERTY LAUNCH NARRATIVE VR EXPERIENCE THE SURROGATE

“Interactive VR Experience Channels Black Mirror to Peer Into the Near Future of Tech-Induced Anxiety”

Los Angeles-based creative studio VR Playhouse teams with creator/director Peter Flaherty and Producer Logan Brown for the launch of The Surrogate,” a timely, interactive VR experience that envisions the imminent impacts of technology on our closest interpersonal relationships.The narrative VR experience is a contemporary story–akin to Black Mirror–that is set in the near future, but reflects present cultural fears and afflictions of the digital age. The Surrogate fuses 360 video with a computer-generated explorable environment using an innovative technique called Immersive Hemispheres. Viewers are immersed in the consciousness of a female protagonist, whose point of view they control as they explore the hallways that snake behind the walls of a modern home she once shared with her husband.

Click HERE to view a trailer of The Surrogate and HERE to download the experience for free in the Oculus Store.

Set in a world rich with visual and sensory stimuli, Juliana Bach suffers from an anxiety disorder caused by a proliferation of augmented and virtual realities in her daily life. After struggling with the disorder and experimenting with various treatments, she decides to hire a surrogate to assume her physical presence. Viewers choose how to follow the narrative, navigating the passageways and peering into various rooms through the live-action portals that offer an immersive vantage point. The story builds to a dramatic conclusion in which both Juliana and the Surrogate face the potential sublimation of their identities–two halves of a nearly merged new whole.

The Surrogate has appeared at numerous festivals and was a SXSW Interactive Innovation Award Finalist.

Peter Flaherty is a director and interactive artist whose work has been shown in over 100 international venues, including theaters, art galleries and museums. I wanted to take a different approach to how we are dealing with this kind of immersive technology as a storytelling tool by offering the viewer a story that combines cinematic live action with an interactive environment,” notes Flaherty. The technology inspired me to tell a story that looks ahead to what our shared cultural future may hold in the coming years. I wanted to communicate how powerful this exciting new technology is, but how overwhelming it could be to live in a world proliferated with layered media.

For additional images and background click HERE to view the EPK for The Surrogate.

About VR Playhouse

VR Playhouse is a Los Angeles-based creative studio and full-service production company specializing in virtual and augmented reality. With a fervent passion for transporting viewers through meaningful experiences in immersive media, founders Christina Heller and Ian Forester have amassed a specialized team with diverse backgrounds ranging from production to animation, journalism, VFX, theater and live events. From creative to production and distribution, VR Playhouse delivers complete projects through its cohesive VR pipeline.

Boasting a broad range of projects in the commercial, live sports, cinematic narrative and high-end real estate industries, VR Playhouses original VR content transports viewers into unexplored times and locations, allowing audiences to transcend their daily lives and experience new perspectives and emotions.

###

For more information contact: Jenna Wigman @ Press Kitchen 617.966.0649

The post VR PLAYHOUSE & CREATOR/DIRECTOR PETER FLAHERTY LAUNCH NARRATIVE VR EXPERIENCE ‘THE SURROGATE’ appeared first on Virtual Reality Reporter by VR Reporter

Source: http://ift.tt/1Haxbtw

Love Quote of the Day

Love Quote of the Day: “To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.” – William Makepeace Thackeray “To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.”