without a dream in my heart

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:54 pm
copracat: diana putting a flower behind anne's ear (anne girls of summer)
[personal profile] copracat
Of all the strange things in the world right now, watching Madam Secretary change from bog standard but in this case entertaining US exceptionalism to a radical little piece calling out the current White House as a bunch of Nazi idiots is one of the strangest.

Same with Agents of SHIELD. At the same time the white supremacist owner of Marvel comics is making Cap a Nazi (by the way, fuck you), the TV show is also calling out the current White House as a bunch of Nazis. And they are literally saying Nazi, bless their cotton socks. Because Hydra are fucking Nazis, even in Ada/Ophelia's dream world look at what the fuck they are wearing.

In fact many of my US shows are doing this. May you win your current fight, writers, comrades.

And now a music meme I picked up by way of [personal profile] st_aurafina

1.A song you like with a colour in the title: Blue Moon Revisited - Cowboy Junkies )
music meme topics )

VividCon 2017 Vid Deadlines

Apr. 25th, 2017 09:17 pm
elipie: (Default)
[personal profile] elipie posting in [community profile] vividcon
It's the post you've been waiting for -- vid due dates! We appreciate your patience.

Club Vivid: May 12th (more time available if needed - contact vvctech@gmail.com)
Challenge and Nearly New: May 26th
Themed Shows: June 9th
Premieres, Non-Attending Premieres and Auction: June 23rd

Please note the submission form does not have current vidshows listed yet. We will make a separate announcement when we are ready to accept submissions (which will be very soon).

Thank you!

[ObMeme]

Apr. 25th, 2017 10:09 pm
yhlee: (FMA:B Mustang Hellbound)
[personal profile] yhlee
By way of [personal profile] likeadeuce:
Name one of my fandoms and I'll answer some questions!

1. the character I least understand
2. interactions I enjoyed the most
3. the character who scares me the most
4. the character who is mostly like me
5. hottest looks character
6. one thing I dislike about my fave character
7. one thing I like about my hated character
8. a quote or scene that haunts me
9. a character I wish died but didn’t
10. my ship that never sailed

(no subject)

Apr. 25th, 2017 05:10 pm
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)
[personal profile] yhlee
Rick Riordan Imprint Acquires First Three Titles:
Lee’s book, Dragon Pearl, a standalone middle grade novel, stars Min, a teenage fox spirit whose brother is missing and thought to have deserted the Thousand Worlds Space Forces in order to find the pearl of the title, an artifact that may have the power to save their struggling space colony. Lee says the toughest part of writing for a new audience was working with shorter chapters and a different vocabulary; the idea for the story itself came to him quickly. “I was pretty sure nobody else would come up with a space opera based on Korean mythology,” he said.


(IF THERE ARE OTHER KOREAN MYTHOLOGY SPACE OPERAS PLZ TELL ME I WANT TO READ THEM THE MORE THE MERRIER!!!)

The other two, which I am super looking forward to reading, are Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the End of Time, first of a projected quartet about "a 12-year-old Indian-American girl who unwittingly frees a demon intent on awakening the God of Destruction," and Jennifer Cervantes's Storm Runner, "about a 13-year-old boy who must save the world by unraveling an ancient Mayan prophecy." I may have to fight my daughter over who gets to read them first. =D =D =D

Anyway, that's what I'm working on right now!
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

My husband, at the ripe age of 35, is losing his hair. He has had luxuriant long locks since he was a young teenager, long before I knew him. He fought multiple administrative battles with his conservative Catholic high school’s dress code in order to keep it. He considers it an inextricable part of the identity he constructed that turned him from a sad, isolated kid into an adult with a social community. In his own words, he can no longer picture himself without long hair. Nevertheless, it’s visibly thinning on top–and he knows it.

His anxiety over this is really ramping up: he bought a second mirror so he can examine the top/back of his head, he’s exploring combover-like hair arrangements to hide the thin area, and the angst performance over every stray hair in the shower drain trap is… heartbreaking. Also more than a little annoying.

I’m a fat woman, Captain. I have never in my life looked the way I wanted to, much less the way society told me I ought to. After thirty years, I’m largely over it in most circumstances… but when my husband starts up this new routine about his hair, part of me wants nothing more than to roll my eyes and notify the whaaaambulance. As a bonus, my husband is quite thin, and has done the dance of fat-shaming in the guise of “concern for your health” at me in the past, so that resentment lingers a bit. (Even though I did break him of that habit and it hasn’t come up in years, I can’t avoid the basic truth that he’s thin and I’m fat and I have feelings about that.)

I want to be supportive, but at the same time I dread the day he actually asks my opinion of the effectiveness of his combover techniques (spoilers: they are super not effective). Right now all my buried bitterness about my own body wells up in my throat when he gets started about how many hairs fell out during his latest post-shower brushing, so I just kind of shrug and nod sympathetically to avoid choking on it. Do you have any scripts for soothing sounds I can make in response to his escalating sads-spirals?

Signed,
Some of Us Have Never Been Beautiful, Howl

Dear Some Of Us:

When you’ve expressed uncomfortable feelings about your body in the past, is there any soothing thing a thin person could have said to you to make you feel better?

True story, a thin friend recently offered to sort through plus size dresses online to help me find something to wear to an event, and while she found the least hideous-shoulder-cutout-boob-sequined-couch-upholstery looking things that fell within my many parameters, the best part about it was afterward when she said:

“I gotta say.
Shopping for plus-sized lady stuff
The prints, Jen. The prints.
It was awful.”

I love her so much for it, because, while she’s always quick to say “You’re beautiful!” it was amazing to have her, for one brief second, know and affirm how much things can suck out there. #YOUSEEME #YOUREALLYSEEME #letmypeoplehavesleeves

Applying this to your husband’s hair loss, I think the best soothing noise you could make is some version of affirming his feelings of anxiety and loss. Nodding sympathetically works. “Aw man, that sucks!” works. If he asks for more of a response, try “Your hair is so pretty, I know it sucks to lose it so much earlier than you planned.” “No advice, just sympathy.” Resist the urge to flood him with supportive “Bald Is Beautiful”* memes and let him come to his own peace with it in his own time.

Edited to Add: I had this as a P.S. but I want to emphasize this: There is a reason that this is bringing up old feels about body image. You (understandably) had and have a lot of feelings about having a body that is seen as non-standard, not sexy, not lovable, not celebrated, and downright discriminated against by our culture. You’ve made an uneasy peace with those feelings and didn’t ask your husband to manage them for you. In fact, you had to do a lot of emotional labor to shut down his harmful attempts to manage them. But now, it feels like he is asking you to be the audience and cheerleader while he manages his feelings about getting older. You don’t have to manage his feelings about aging and baldness. Nodding sympathetically and saying, “Aw, that sucks” is enough “work” around this issue. Giving him a lot of space to work through it himself is actually a kind thing to do. If he’s looking for something else, he needs to come out and ask you or tell you what that is.[/Edit]

At some point, when he asks your opinion, or if his unhappiness escalates or shows no sign of stopping, here’s your script: “Husband, I can tell this is stressing you out a lot, and I hate seeing you so unhappy about it. I don’t know the first thing about styling men’s hair, and I think it’s time to call in a great barber or hair stylist who can help you work with it and make you feel maximally handsome.

Once you’ve invoked this stylist/barber, you can defer everything to them. “I look at you every day, I’m not a good judge. Let a professional at it!

He’s 100% gonna say; “But they’ll just cut it off or tell me to cut it off!” to which you can truthfully say “Maybe so, but they won’t actually cut it off unless that’s your decision, too. Why not work with someone who knows what they are doing?

To use the example from your letter, you are at peace with your body (mostly). But if you talked about being unhappy with it every day, it would be okay if someone close to you said “Hey, this is clearly making you unhappy, and I don’t feel right commenting on it, but I also want you to have every bit of support and help you deserve, so, who can we call?” Finding a fat-friendly doctor is much more of a crapshoot than finding a barber who can gently steer your husband into his post-ponytail life.

*About those “Bald Is Beautiful” images: One thing that got me to be more comfortable with my fat body was looking at beautiful images of fat people – from the Fatshionista LJ Community in Ye Olden Tymes to various fashion blogs. Our media culture is so saturated with fatphobia that this process was an important part of normalizing eye so I could see myself. If your husband were writing to me, I’d tell him to build a Jason Statham/Luke Cage Pinterest board post-haste. Since he isn’t the one writing, it would probably be overstepping if you did it for him. I’m putting this here in case it helps another baldy or future baldy. Retrain your eye!

 


I saw Synecdoche, New York

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:10 pm
[syndicated profile] fogknife_feed

Posted by Jason McIntosh

Still from the film's closing act

I recall very much wishing to see this Charlie Kaufman film during its initial run in the late aughts. I count the Kaufman-penned Being John Malcovich as a favorite film from my own young adulthood. Perhaps I would have liked Synecdoche more had I seen it closer to then. My contexts have since changed. The meal satisfied my appetite when I watched it last night, but a day later I find myself left with an overpowering aftertaste of Oh no, a wealthy and accomplished middle-aged white New York man feels sad! Let’s all drop everything and pay attention to him for two hours!

And, you know, hashtag-not-all-brotagonists. The Coen brothers’ Barton Fink took a similar starting hook — insofar as giving a stage-director protag fortune and glory and there his troubles began — and built something far more coherent and widely meaningful out of far fewer resources. Synecdoche feels lodged in an uncomfortable space between that earlier picture and the more recent Birdman, which Alejandro Iñárritu bound with strict narrative and style constraints while working over the same-again material, and so made something remarkably memorable.

Synecdoche tries its own tack, of course, through acceptance of surreality, a willingness to treat time, space, and causality loosely, and a director practiced with playing such games on film effectively. Just the same, I don’t think it really struck the mark.

My attention flared, on cue, when towards the end of the first act we follow spurned Hazel, in the only scene not shot from sad Caden’s point of view, as she purchases a house literally on fire. Smoke billows from the windows as she rings the doorbell, and flames lick the walls while the agent tours her through. I savored the thought of what later payoff would come from this, and at one point thought the film would jump track, thrillingly, to center on Hazel, Keeper of the Flame. None of this happens; I think the film means to imply that Hazel’s conflagration exists only in Caden’s perception after all, just like how he spends his declining years endlessly contemplating his own water-treading through a kaleidoscope of dramatic doppelgangers, and just like how in his apparent final moments he concludes his fantasy of the world literally ending with him.

Solipsism just doesn’t interest me that much. Even when you’ve clearly spent a lot of money on it.

[syndicated profile] henryjenkins_feed

Posted by Henry Jenkins

This is the second part of an essay written by Mina Kaneko for my PhD seminar on Medium Specificity.

Satoshi Kon’s Paprika

Still from Paprika, by Satoshi Kon.

Satoshi Kon’s 2006 anime Paprika takes a different approach to media and technology, primarily in that dreams are the subjects to be mediated, and notions of the “frame” or “virtual window” are used as tropes within the narrative. The story, based on the science-fiction novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui, is centered on a thin, glowing headset called the DC Mini, which allows a person to enter and record another person’s dreams. Intended for psychotherapy use, the DC Mini is not yet a perfected technology—and a knowing thief perverts its functions to invade and control the minds of the greater human population. As havoc is wreaked—at first gradually, then suddenly—a collective dream overtakes the city of Tokyo, which is overwhelmed by gigantic puppets and dolls, creatures and statues. It is up to a talented psychotherapist named Chiba and her alter ego Paprika to save the world from destruction.

The DC Mini is, more than anything, an immersive technology, the kind of “fanciful extrapolation of contemporary virtual reality” described by Bolter and Grusin in their essay “Remediation” (313). Bolter and Grusin describe what they call “the logic of immediacy” in a media experience like VR, which is “immersive” because of the perceived invisibility of the technology—it strives to “foster in the viewer a sense of presence: the viewer should forget that she is in fact wearing a computer interface and accept the graphic image that it offers as her own visual world” (314). An example of such a device is the subject of the film Strange Days, by Kathryn Bigelow (1995). “The wire” has brain sensors that enable the recording and delivery of direct sense experiences from one person to another. It’s appeal, Bolter and Grusin write, lies in the fact that it “bypasses all forms of mediation and transmits directly from one consciousness to another,” making it “the ultimate mediating technology, despite or indeed because the wire is designed to efface itself ” (311-312).

The DC Mini. In the opening scene, Paprika says, “It’s the scientific key that allows us to open the door to our dreams.”

Strikingly similar to the wire, the DC Mini is a wearable headpiece with sensors that pick up signals from a user’s brain while asleep—they are then transmitted to another user who is also wearing a headset. This allows the therapist using the device direct access to a patient’s dreams, in “real time,” as they are experiencing them. This is apparent in the opening scene, in which Paprika treats a new patient we later learn to be a detective named Konakawa. We are first shown a dream about a mysterious circus, in which Konakawa looks for someone who has betrayed him. Paprika, disguised as a clown, helps him try to identify who it is that he is looking for. As the dream becomes increasingly surreal—Konakawa is put into a birdcage, and a mob of people all resembling himself charge toward him—Paprika assumes different characters, adapting to each shifting moment (an acrobat to help him escape in one, a Jane figure to his Tarzan in the next).  Once Paprika puts on the DC Mini, she is in the direct presence of the contents of Konakawa’s dream—there exists no technology, interface, or frame demarcating a boundary to his consciousness. Like the wire in Strange Days, its appeal is that it “bypasses all forms of mediation and transmits directly from one consciousness to another.” While the experience itself is of course mediated by the DC Mini, the DC Mini is the “ultimate technology” because it “effaces itself” once worn. Furthermore, Paprika is not merely a passive observer, but an active participant, able to interact freely with the subjects that emerge within the dream space.

The DC Mini has another essential function, and that is to record dreams to be viewed while outside of the dream space. For example, shortly after Konakawa wakes from his circus dream, Paprika replays it for him on a computer-like device called the “psychotherapy machine,” to which DC Minis are connected. Using a program whose interface resembles a video editing software such as Final Cut or iMovie, she pauses specific moments to ask him for clues to the dream’s meaning. In a different scene later in the film, we also see Chiba and her colleagues watching the machines’ live dream recordings to look for clues about the dream hijacker. Thus the dream is an immersive space that can be entered, but it is also a bound and flattened space to be viewed within the confines of the frame.

The DC Mini’s recording function, as shown on a portable device.

The DC Mini’s recording function, as shown on a portable device.  In her essay “The Virtual Window,” Friedberg argues that the digital screen has come to serve the same functions once served by the window, which acted as “the membrane between inside and outside” (340). Cinematic and televisual screens in particular have “produced an ingrained virtuality of the senses, removing our experience of space, time and the real to the plane representation, but in form of delimited vision, in a frame” (Friedberg 344). The DC Mini’s cinematic function, with the ability to “embalm” dreamt time (as film theorist André Bazin said of photography and cinema), proves that dreams have a materiality or physicality that can be imprinted, flattened, and contained. The ability to record—to pause, rewind, play, and analyze—something as abstract, elusive, and deeply internal as dreams gives them an order and control, and the cinematic screen acts as a “membrane” with which to observe that psychical space.

These currents—of immediacy and the virtual window—continue to interact with one another in various ways, particularly as the hijacker finds a way to blur the boundaries between the dream life (or mediated object) and reality (the world of mediation). After the DC Minis are stolen, multiple people fall victim to a violent mind-control; a delusional dream takes over their consciousness, and they enter a hallucinatory state that leads each of them to jump out of a skyscraper window. When Chiba later nearly falls victim to the same fate, we see the kind of delusion those earlier victims had experienced. Moments before, Chiba had been investigating her colleague’s office; but a door leads her to a completely different environment of a surreal, abandoned fairgrounds, where the only live presence is a traditional Japanese doll. The doll lures her further into the environment, eventually inviting her to climb over a fence. As her colleague Osanai barely saves her from jumping over it, the environment of the fairground melts away, and we see she is actually hovering over a tall balcony railing (clip 1).

 

Clip 1. The hijacker’s dream overtakes Chiba’s reality without the presence of the DC Mini.

Here we are presented with a state in which there is no separation, or mediation, with the objects to be mediated—the dream world has entered the world of reality on its own, without warning. It is a state in which “the objects of representation themselves are felt to be self-present,” and in which the technology has “effaced itself” entirely (she is not even wearing a DC Mini)—but it is not the “blissful state” Bolter and Grusin say we desire in our mediated life (355). It is dystopic, rather than a utopic, in which the absence of mediation and the superimposition of fantasy onto reality have violent, harmful consequences.

As the pervasiveness of this troubling immersion intensifies, the frame is increasingly presented as a “permeable interface” (Friedberg 340). Friedberg says that as the size of the windows in the 19th century grew, “its transparency enforced a two-way model of visuality: by framing a private view outward…and by framing a public view inward” (340). Similarly, Smith describes the presence of dual spaces in thinking about the framed painting as a kind of window; he notes that while frame was originally created to demarcate a specific area of the wall for artwork, thus highlighting the painting’s flatness, that the painting could also “present the image of objects in a created ‘space’ on the other side of the canvas” (222).

In one scene, Paprika attempts to save one of her colleagues who has become trapped in the collective dream. Paprika, who had been monitoring the psychotherapy machines and entering the dream space at will to search for the culprit, soon realizes the culprit is none other than the chairman of her company. When Chairman Inui and his accomplice Osanai see her appear in their nightmarish dream, they try to attack her; Paprika runs down a Victorian hallway, shutting herself in a room adorned with 19th century paintings (clip 2). She searches for a means of escape, and jumps into Gustave Moreau’s 1864 painting Oedipus and the Sphinx. In doing so, her body assumes the painted figure of the Sphinx—moments later, Osanai joins her within the frame, assuming that of Oedipus. The previously two-dimensional scene depicted in Moreau’s painting suddenly becomes a three-dimensional, inhabitable space—Paprika, in the Sphinx’s body, hovers above Osanai with her wings; Osanai throws a spear at her, and she tumbles down into the water below.

In another sequence, moments later, Konakawa has entered his own dream space, and walks into an arena of movie theaters. He chooses a theater playing a film called

 

Clip 2. Paprika escapes into Gustave Moreau’s Oedipus and the Sphinx.

“Paprika,” and upon entering, he sees on the screen Paprika tied to a table, Osanai violating her—a display of Paprika’s parallel, real-time experience in Chairman Inui’s dream, occurring at that moment. In a panic, Konakawa runs straight into the film screen to save her, eventually ripping through it and entering the chairman’s dream on the other side (clip 3). Just as the transparent window “enforced a two-way model of visuality,” Paprika frequently shows how spaces can be inhabited on both sides of the painting or cinematic screen. Beyond a frame that merely demarcates virtuality of “space, time and the real” to the “plane representation,” the screen is a “permeable interface” that allows the traversal of boundaries within as well as between dreams.

Clip 3. Detective Konakawa rips through the film screen at a movie theater in his own dream to cross over into the chairman’s dream.

The chairman’s nightmare, which spills into others’ dreams as well as onto reality, eventually becomes an overwhelming spectacle of the kind Angela Ndalianis describes in her essay, “Architectures of the Senses: Neo-Baroque Entertainment Spectacles.” Enlarged objects and characters (including everything from umbrellas, refrigerators, “maneki-neko” cat figurines, Russian dolls, statues of Mary and Buddha) march and dance into the streets, turning the city into a massive parade. As the chaos ensues, Paprika jumps increasingly in and out of frames—once into a TV screen announcing the news, then later into a billboard ad, assuming an equestrian’s body and riding away on a horse only to jump out of an ad on a semi-trailer truck by a boat on a canal. The chairman’s dream, however, has a “neo-baroque logic” to it, in that it “refuse[s] to respect the limits of the frame. Instead it ‘tend[s] to invade space in every direction, to perforate it, to become as one with all its possibilities” (Focillon qtd. in Ndalianis 360). While dreams had previously been a subject of observation and immersion within a controlled space, here they threaten the city by “invading the space in every direction…perforating it, becoming one” with the diegetic reality. The frames through which Paprika jumps still serve as entryways in and out of separate spaces, just as before—however, each traversal of a frame brings her only to another location within the expansive, destructive, parading dream, pointing to a collapse (or at least, ineffectiveness) of the frame against a neo-baroque logic that has imposed itself onto the city. Eventually, the infectious delusion is contained by a supernatural specter of Chiba and Paprika that consumes the chairman’s body. We are returned, in the end, to the previous reality in which dreams are entered upon will, and peace is restored.

Like Strange Days, Paprika presents a “world fascinated by the power and ubiquity of media technologies” (Bolter and Grusin 312). In the final delusional parade scene, we see a group of schoolgirls whose faces are mediated by their cell phone screens (clip 4); similarly, a group of business men’s heads are replaced by flip phones—all recite an incoherent, hysterical chant. They are bizarre, creepy moments that seem to caution against a technologically mediated world in which we are no longer ourselves, but replaced entirely by our devices. This scene is also set against the backdrop of a highly mediated cityscape—the city is unidentified, but it undoubtedly mirrors present-day Tokyo. There is nothing fictional about its rendition of the city itself. And yet we see Tokyo, like the Los Angeles of Strange Days, is “saturated with cellular phones, voice- and text-based telephone answering machines, radios, and billboard-sized television screens that constitute public media spaces” (Bolter and Grusin 312). Paprika itself is not opposed to media and technology—indeed, media (here represented by the dream world) has the power to inform and reform our reality (here through the act of psychoanalysis)—and yet, it offers us a narrative that suggests the achievement of true immersion, and the inability to distinguish our fantasies and innermost desires from reality, has the potential to be dangerous. Immersive media is powerful, but there remains a need for distinction, separation, frames, and borders—for the act of mediation itself.

 

Clip 4. The chairman’s dream becomes a spectacle that overtakes the city of Tokyo.

As in McCay’s comics, Paprika portrays an urban society abounding with the technological innovations of its period. The ubiquity of televisual screens is a familiar sight for anyone acquainted with Tokyo, presented as a place in which such types of technology have become habituated, or second nature. Like in Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo, Paprika superimposes fantastical and surreal elements, facilitated by the dream and the unconscious, onto this normalized technological reality, showing a grotesquely transmogrified urban life and defamiliarizing what is familiar. With this wariness comes heightened self-awareness, as Paprika’s entrance and traversal of screens intensifies throughout the narrative. Calling attention to the thing we often take for granted, that is, the very boundary that marks the representation within it—we too are reminded that we are watching Paprika the anime, on a screen and within a frame.

In contrast to Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo, however, Paprika appears to be more focused on the themes of novelty and reception of new technology rather than in the process of habituation. While the malfunctioning technology in McCay’s comics are existing technologies, the alluring and perilous technology of the DC Mini is a speculative, fictional one. It is enticing, ground-breaking, addicting, edgy—so new that it hasn’t yet been patented. Because it is also a novelty within the diegetic world and not just our own, the anxiety and amazement about it is ever-present in the narrative; neither we nor the characters in the film are accustomed to it. The narrative’s suspense rests on this precarious balance between fantasy and fear—from the utopic vision of its ability to alter our psychoanalytic practices (and share dreams from consciousness to consciousness) to the dystopic vision of a city ruined by greed and villainy. Paprika’s character embodies this utopia—light, charming, adored, feminine—while the chairman’s embodies the dystopia—dark, oppressive, masculine—and the two forces confront each other at the film’s climax.

What’s compelling about Paprika is that it tells such a story with the medium of anime, with an aesthetic that, like comics, relies on a “strongly stylized, hand-drawn quality,” one which does not try to simulate or replace our three-dimensional world. Unlike “immersive” technologies on which the DC Mini is based and which try to “come as close as possible to the visual world outside,” it presents us with a deliberately two-dimensional, flat world of solid colors (Bolter and Grusin 316). One could say Paprika thus offers a kind of counter-inscription to the kinds of computer-generated aesthetics available to us today and to technologies like VR, instead providing us with a more abstracted, symbolic representation.

At the same time, however, the film immerses us, perhaps even more than it distances us. Unlike McCay, overall Kon does not rupture the aesthetic with different drawing styles; using a consistent visual representation throughout the film, he creates an alternate iconic reality in which the dream materials and the diegetic reality are seamlessly merged. We may not confuse its flatness for our own reality, but the film, with its colorful, luscious drawings, invites us to imagine another one. The anime thus engages us in a different way than some high tech experiences might (something like VR, by operating on the presupposition that it is to assume our reality, often exposes schisms between what’s expected and what technology is capable of creating, whereas anime escapes this particular disappointment by speaking through a consciously symbolic representation).

Furthermore, Paprika draws us in by convincing us of the cinematic illusion that the drawn images move. In his book The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, Thomas LaMarre refers to anime’s dialectical relationship with technology, saying it derives its novelty from its “ability to cross between ostensibly low-tech and high-tech situations, to the point that it becomes impossible to draw firm distinctions between low and high tech”—the low-tech being its hand-drawn aspect, and the high-tech being the technologically involved production of animation (xiv). He quotes Norman McClaren’s definition:

Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn; what happens between each frame is much more important than what exists on each frame; animation is therefore the art of manipulating the invisible interstices that lie between frames. (qtd. in LaMarre xxiv)

While Paprika is reflexive in its metaphorical use of screens, it also seems to embrace its high-tech illusionism. With the exception of a few moments (as when Konakawa enters a movie titled “Paprika”) it rarely breaks the fourth wall, and the construction of anime as the layering of images is never made explicit; the “invisible interstices” that lie between frames remain invisible. Unlike McCay’s comics, Paprika never reveals its own process of production, allowing itself to trick us into the illusion that the hand-drawn images with which we are presented do indeed animate. Like the dialectical presence of caution and fascination presented in its narrative, Paprika simultaneously incites critical awareness with its reflexivity while immersing us in technological fantasy.

Framing Dreams and the Technological Uncanny

McCay’s Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo and Kon’s Paprika are very different in their visual approaches and evocations of the technological uncanny. In McCay’s work, we see an overall wariness about technology and its impact on daily life, which he humorizes in comic form. McCay frequently implicates himself in his process of mediation and exposes the artist behind the fiction. Though he paints captivating dreamscapes in Little Nemo, he also often presents dreams about technology by contrasting the uniformity of the frame with chaotic contents, recalling the negotiation between fear and habituation described by Schivelbusch and Gunning. Paprika, on the other hand, reflects on the novelty of technology, and the utopic and dystopic visions they bring about, through a narrative of science-fiction. It both embraces and cautions against technological innovation, and it is simultaneously reflexive and immersive in its own storytelling.

From Little Nemo in Slumberland, by Winsor McCay.

One could say McCay satirizes anxieties of the “modern” era in which many urban practices were very new, while Paprika responds to a “post-modern” era in which, as Jean Baudrillard wrote, simulation threatens to replace the real—though, terms like “modern” and “postmodern” are most importantly discourses to help think about our present and exist alongside one another. I also agree with Tom Gunning that no matter the era, there is continuity in the emotional and psychical processes we undergo when we encounter new technologies and new media, processes which seem to recur time and time again, whether in response to the magical yet frightful experience of riding a train in the late 19th century, or entering the surreal, virtual portal of the digital screen in our present world.

In their introduction to Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins also point to the striking parallels between the Victorian age and the so-called Digital Revolution, saying that such moments of cultural transition seem to “generate visions of apocalyptic transformation” as well as those of “technological utopia” (1). There is euphoria and panic at the heart of immense change—but as they note, in reality, change is never so simple or so sudden; media practices shift gradually, in nuanced ways. Furthermore, they write:

The introduction of a new technology always seems to provoke thoughtfulness, reflection, and self-examination in the culture seeking to absorb it. Sometimes this self-awareness takes the form of a reassessment of established media forms, whose basic elements may now achieve a new visibility, may become a source of historical research and renewed theoretical speculation. 
(Thorburn and Jenkins 4)

Rarebit Fiend, Little Nemo and Paprika are examples of texts that provoke thoughtfulness, reflection, and self-examination about their contemporary moments—ones that “reassess established media forms” and give new visibility to the hand-drawn aesthetic. They present a visual mode of storytelling that departs from the emerging, more novel forms of mediation, be it photography and cinema at the turn of the century, or immersive digital media of the present day. Relying on a visual idiom that needs no referent or original to copy, they highlight a stylistic discursiveness, providing a kind of “counter-inscription” to the subject matter they depict. At the same time, the works show that they too are not without their own technological components, which is sometimes made explicit (eg., in McCay’s allusions to the printing presses) and sometimes implicit (eg., in the way Paprika keeps the invisible interstices invisible, but evokes “screen” and “cinema”).

Still from Paprika, by Satoshi Kon.

These counter-inscriptive aesthetics also seem to lend themselves well to the subject of dreams. There is a fluidity and versatility with drawing such sites of fantasy and imagination, not least because of its “low-tech” nature that can present an alternate reality as long as it can be drawn; it works without the constraints one might encounter when dependent on more high-tech mechanisms and escapes the expectation of a certain type of presupposed aesthetic. Dreams, in turn, are a rich space in which to explore the uncanny and technology—whether as a site where such anxieties and fears about technologies appear, or as something that seems to mirror new technology and media itself, a site of the unknown future. The frames that figure prominently in these texts—as a window into the fantasy of the unconscious or as an externalized grid or screen that can order and contain—seem themselves to play into the very notion of the psychic layering of the uncanny, in that they mark a metaphorical boundary that controls and habituates our fears, desires, and fantasies—boundaries that just as easily can be collapsed or crossed, letting our apocalyptic and euphoric fantasies slip through.

 

Mina Kaneko is an editor and scholar. She holds a BS in Media, Culture, and Communication from NYU and was formerly Covers Associate at The New Yorker and Editorial Associate at TOON Books. She is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative Media and Culture at USC, where she is a Provost’s fellow. Her research interests include contemporary Japanese and Anglophone literature, comics, and cinema, as well as theories of visuality, psychoanalytic theory, and intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.

 

 

rydra_wong: A dancer (Anie Hanauer) crouches in a performance by Candoco. She has a prosthetic arm. (body -- annie)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Because I was looking for dance things on YouTube the other day and was reminded of this -- here's the "Believe" dance from DV8 Physical Theatre's The Cost of Living:



The second piece in that clip doesn't (IMHO) work as well out of context, but it reminded me of the awesomeness of David Toole -- I went looking and found a whole short piece he did with the mighty CandoCo Dance Company. It is very '90s modern dance TV, and I say this with love (everyone wears shift dresses and big boots, etc.), but it will meet your queer disability-inclusive sexay tango needs:

CandoCo: Outside In

catty cat cat?

Apr. 25th, 2017 10:03 am
jadelennox: Sleepy cat (c-cat)
[personal profile] jadelennox
I am pretty sure that most of you who can have cats do have cats, but there's a call out for a forever home for lovely, people-loving Thea. US-based, currently in Baltimore, needs to be in a currently-petless and probably childless home. (She adores people and hates cats.)

Episode 1501: V For Vadetta

Apr. 25th, 2017 10:11 am
[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1501: V For Vadetta

Ageing is something that seldom comes up in games, except in cases of artificial ageing by curses or something. Most campaigns don't tend to run for long in enough in game time for characters to age more than a few years.

What about running a campaign in which the individual adventures don't take place serially, in quick succession, but rather spaced out over years, with large gaps in between? You can think about TV series that were revived after a long time, like The X-Files, only take it as a model for multiple gaps between adventures.

A young group complete some adventure, and are so exhausted and perhaps wealthy afterwards that they retire. But a decade later the old threat resurfaces, and they are the best group to fight it again, so they regroup. Then several years later again, something happens which has weird echoes of the previous two adventures, and the heroes need to come together a third time, now much older (and hopefully wiser).

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[personal profile] bookgazing posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Down for a lot of words about killer robots, ladies, and feelings? Then please join me for bi-weekly recaps of The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


Spoilers )

In Need of Trek TOS Art

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:09 pm
elf: Pocket-sized chapbook shown in someone's hand. (Zinelets)
[personal profile] elf
Zinelets is established as name of mini-zine line. First issue, titled Motionally Compromised (unless someone convinces me otherwise) will feature Star Trek: TOS, with the feature story expected to be Spock/McCoy.

I plan to distribute flyers during Memorial Day weekend conventions (I think there are 4 in my area, although hitting them all is not likely to happen unless I get help) with the intent of either mailing them out on June 10th - 1 week after the 48th anniversary of the end of ST:TOS.

But. I don't have any art. If things get closer to Time To Print (or rather, Time To Spend Several Hours Tinkering with Minute InDesign Settings) and I don't have art, I'll probably crawl around Deviantart and try to find someone, but... in the meantime, anyone know artist(s) who'd like to be printed in a tiny Trek TOS zine?

I need art. Could use other content as well. )

FWIW, I have a "test zine" that I intend to use as a template, with Glitch as the fandom. It features one of my Glitch stories from AO3, a bit of simple photoshop artwork involving Glitch pics, and a schedule of Zilloweens for the rest of 2017. Available by request - happy to print them out and mail them to anyone who'd like one; this is an exception to the "send SASE" rule mentioned above. (Mail zinelets@gmail.com with a snailmail address, or questions/comments/etc. that you don't want to show here.)

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