I really like this film, not sure why since at first it seemd so bleak and definitely “end of the world-ish”. Reminiscent of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds “walkers”, that lumber ominously across desolate landscape, these giant metal structures/creatures float in the sky like giant jellyfish. They are machines that are animalistic rather then humanistic but there is a sense that they have some feeling, some soul. They seem unhappy, ponderous, searching like lost souls. Can machines have a soul? Makes me think of Marvin the paranoid android from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy! Do we humanise machines? I think we always have and there is certainly an element that we have either idolised or demonised technology and new inventions throughout history. We are either for new ideas or against new ideas, there is not always a middle road. Think of the Luddites for example; wreckers of machines and opposers of technological change. And in schools there are those who are keen to embrace change and those who cling to the comfortable past ….
Dr Ilana Snyder from Monash University, Australia writes “Enthusiasts openly embrace the technologies, claiming they offer a panacea for educational problems, enhance communication, empower users, and democratise classrooms. At the opposite extreme, ‘demonisers’ exude cynicism about the technologies’ apparent powers. Some dismiss them simply as new instructional and communication tools. Others reject them outright as yet a further form of social control or enforced consumption, which promotes the interests of state and corporate sectors. Clearly, extreme responses are of limited use, and the need to move beyond them increasingly urgent in education.”
Men have tended over the years to feminise their cars; I know my Dad had names for his cars, not always female, it is true, but I remember the “Green Goddess”, and “Maggie May” along with the “White Wonder”! Cars, boats and planes are referred to as “she” by their (usually) male owners. Languages have different genders for their nouns – in French, how did the word for car “la voiture” become feminine, but “le bateau” or “l’avion” masculine? And how is it that in German a car is masculine – “der Wagen”, or even neuter “das Auto” and in Spanish (“el coche”) it is masculine? Does giving objects a gender humanise them, give them a soul?
Coming back to the film we see a dystopian landscape; desolate, abandoned, ivy covered buildings; overturned , rusting cars, with bits of machines rolling down the streets like tumbleweed in a mid-west cowboy movie. There is a connection here of nature with machines – a recurring theme of the shorts that we have seen.
Nature has been an inspiration for man’s machines – helicopters, aeroplanes, amphibious craft – we have taken the wonder of nature and tried to re-create it (and make it better?) Is our downfall the fact that we are overreaching ourselves, that we have tried to make something better and that it is going to come back and bite us? In seeking our Utopia we actually find Dystopia? What a bleak and epressing thought!
The snake-like tentacles reach out of the buildings – or are they reaching in? Is it defense or attack? Despair or hope? Is the “tumbleweed” being pulled towards the floating machines against its will or is it a willing journeyman, heading towards hope? Dystopia or Utopia?
And then the abandoned phone, the disconnected voice – how many times do we try to connect to find that nobody is there? Leaving messages hanging in the ether…. Finally we see the tentacles as wires connected to headphones attached to man. Are we being brain washed? Are we becoming slaves to machines? Have we always been slaves to technology? Are machines our gods as in Bendito Machine III, easily cast away as the next new, bright, shiny thing comes along? Do we control machines or do they control us? Do we give them voice? Do we give them soul?
Still not sure that New Media is dystopian. I like to think that those machines do have a soul, that they are searching. Searching for something better, searching for home…..