Monday, October 22, 2007

Links to Introductory Material on String Theory

Perspective, Time, and Space

One of the themes Dr. Bars finds in his work, and one he'll discuss during seminar, is perspective. He gives the example of looking at an object from different angles and says that " this will be an analogy for casting events in our usual space-time as being perspectives of what goes on in a higher dimensional space-time."

I started thinking about the theme of perspective and its huge relevance in animation and film. Obviously the viewer has to know the point of view(s) of the film in order to understand its context. I thought about some of the animations and animators I've seen that played with different perspectives in an interesting way. The first animator that came to mind was Priit Parn. He constantly played with changes in perspective, time and space in his films, like Breakfast on the Grass (I tried finding clips online but there are none to be found). The film is about several people in Soviet society whose lives run parallel until they ultimately meet in the setting of the famous Manet painting Breakfast on the Grass. There are elements in each character's story that somehow intersects with another character's story. It also played with the idea that events that occurred in one character's life altered or determined what happened in another's. The ending is even more bizarre when the characters end up in another time and space - in an 1863 French painting.

I'm interested in learning more about Dr. Bars' ideas about a second time dimension. Already in film and animation, time has no rules - the filmmaker is in the unique position to manipulate time; a one minute film can cover a span of years and a two hour movie can be about something that happens in a half hour. It would be interesting to see how filmmakers play with the idea of a second time dimension. Would it be another device to enhance films or would it not really matter since time is already so malleable in the realm of film?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Physics 101

Thinking a little bit about our seminar topic, it is hard to deny the importance of physics in the matter. I don't know how many of us have studied or were ever interested in physics, so I thought nothing better than a 6 minute you-tube video with a weird narrator and some trippy music and sound effects to clarify a few things. Prepare for the PHYSICS LIGHTNING TOUR!!

What it means to know your own death

Once again I am returning to Derek Jarman - I am very fascinated with his art and the fact that he knew the face of his own death and confronted it head on.
In conjunction with his last film Blue he made a series of paintings that also dealt with his rage, frustration, paradox and absurdity of the AIDS virus that lead to his blindness and death.
Here are just a few of those paintings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dr. Itzhak Bars Recommends!

...that we all get a lot smarter...and fast, cause if we don't, then we won't understand his talk. Nah, but I did get in contact with him and he had a few recommendations regarding reading, watching and a general outline of his impending speaking engagement at seminar.

He recommended a book called "The Elegant Universe" as a general guide to the problems and issues his theories are attempting to address; while we may not have time to read the book, there is a related NOVA program he directed us to which you can watch online in short segments.

"NOVA: The Elegant Universe"

Also, he mentioned four topics that will be coming up, briefly in his talk, that might help to better clarify the concepts he is studying. Those topics being "Quantum Mechanics", "Cosmology", "Elementary Particles" and "Relativity".

Lastly, he gave a breakdown of the thematic structure of his talk which I will quote below.

"My talk will have three themes to which I will come back several times
1) Symmetry (in particular symmetry in equations that describe physics,
but I will describe it with more familiar analogies)
2) Perspectives (usual concept of looking at an object from different
angles - this will be an analogy for casting events in our usual
space-time as being perspectives of what goes on in a higher dimensional
3) Subtle effects (things that are there in our own environment, but
difficult to notice). These will lead to predictions or existing
evidence that tests/proves the theory."

These themes are excellent starting points for the search for more material that will compliment his presentation. Enjoy!

- Midshipman Cox -

Friday, October 5, 2007

Two Different Perspectives on Death

So, cruising the net for profound things to post on our blog here I came upon a couple of animated works that I thought provided wonderful contrasting views on death and how one copes with its looming spectre.

The first one is interesting largely because it is dealing with a type of death that is somewhat overlooked within the scope of Burstein's Epitaph Project, that being assisted suicide. The piece really does a fantastic job of using typography and 3D motion graphics strategies to create an incredible sense of emotion regarding the subject. All told from the perspective of one who cannot speak up to defend their wish to live; granted I am a supporter of one's 'right to die', but that doesn't change the fact that this is a powerful piece of work.

Tragic Peaceful Death

This next one is just a great piece of animation, reveling in the idea that we can fight back against Death itself, beating it into submission when we aren't ready to go yet. In some ways its a product of the old axiom, "It is better to live on your feet than die on your knees", only in this case it not applies the notion to even the inevitability of death due to old age. Enjoy!

How to Cope With Death

- Chaplain Sean Cox -

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Joyce Burstein: The Epitaph Project

Here's the link to Joyce Burstein's website for her ongoing project.

The Epitaph Project.

It is really a fascinating notion to be able to write one's own epitaph, and it gives a sharp clarity to the concept that we are finite beings and that after we die all that will be left of us is a small imprint on those we knew throughout our lives.

So always remember kiddos, "Be Kind. Please Rewind." Or else you'll end up with a really cruddy epitaph.

- Tsar Sean Cox III -

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Animators and Death

When one thinks of animators and death one of the first things to come up would probably be Len Lye's "Free Radicals", which he was finishing as he was on his death bed.

Stan Brakhage would hopefully be up there since the reason why he died was from bladder cancer, which he contracted from painting on film in an poorly ventilated room.

However, I believe Derek Jarman should be added to this list. His last film Blue was all about Death and the AIDS virus. Now, you might not think of it as animation exactly, because the entire film is an hour long soundtrack with just a blue screen. Now you might ask: "How is that animation?" I know it's not exactly what we would traditionally call "animation", but the film was made while Jarman was dieing of a disease he contracted because of the AIDS virus. That disease left him basically blind for the last few years of his life. He picked blue because it is the color of the AIDS virus magnified - so who is to say that this is not a blind film - a blind animated film. I do.

The film is an amazing mix of poetic monologue and music that confronts the endless tragedies that the queer community was forced to confront in England (and the world) during the late 80's and early 90's. The film is literally about Derek Jarman's own inevitable death that he was awaiting, but it was really about a generation of a queer community that was basically left to die. It's a film trying to make sense of the nonsense that occurred during that time. "The earth is dieing...and we do not notice it."

And even though it is a film I have a copy of the entire soundtrack (cause the picture is out of print) and it you would like a copy please ask. And when you watch it; please watch it first to a blue screen - the film seems a lot more potent that way.