Monday, February 13, 2017


Usually one sees the cathedral mentioned as an example of how many humble people, working over a long period of time for a common goal, can achieve something splendid that points to the ultimate.  I had not seen it used metaphorically to indicate the enmeshed “superior” and dominating opinions of leaders who set the values of a nation as described in the just previous post.  I don’t care very much about money, so I haven’t been impressed by the idea that 1% of people control almost all the money.  This is different, the pen that's mightier than the checkbook.

A dominating small per cent of thinkers, wise elders, who can control what is thought to be valuable, is rather different and I do care about it.  I had thought that’s what I was approaching at the U of Chicago Div School and it seems I was right.  It’s a cathedral of thought and what they themselves called “wisdom,” a very trendy thing to discuss at the moment.  But we don't like elites.

When I googled to find the formal uses of the "Cathedral" idea, I found  a video, a much more visceral way of looking at the metaphor of the Cathedral.  Originally a sci-fi story, the version linked below as a video draws on game technique to bring create a living, organic cathedral, or so it looks to me.  With a visceral, inhuman, threatening, always moving, aspect to it.  See how it affects you.  

The Cathedral (Polish: Katedra) is the title of a science fiction short story by Jacek Dukaj, winner of the Janusz A. Zajdel Award in 2000; and of a 2002 short animated movie by Tomasz Bagiński, based on the story. The film was nominated in 2002 for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film for the 75th Academy Awards. The movie won the title of Best Animated Short at Siggraph 2002 in San Antonio as well as several other awards.

Baginski developed another video, darker than Kafka, very much the product of our times when bullies destroy little people for the aesthetic pleasure of it — evidently, since it’s hard to think of another reason.

Fallen Art (Polish Sztuka spadania, lit. The Art of Falling) is a six-minute, animated short film written and directed by Tomasz Bagiński. It features Romanian band Fanfare Ciocarlia's song "Asfalt Tango." The film was produced and created by Platige Image, a VFX company. Fallen Art received the Jury Honors at the SIGGRAPH 2005 Computer Animation Festival, and in 2006, it received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award.

Fallen Art presents the story of General A, a self-proclaimed artist. His art, however, consists of a deranged method of stop motion photography, where the individual frames of the movie are created by photographs made by Dr. Johann Friedrich, depicting the bоdies of deаd soldiers, pushed down by Sergeant Al from a giant springboard onto a slab of concrete.”

These are grim, cynical visions of the world, but they seem more and more convincing, esp. to those we’re learning to give names:  Neoconservatives, Nazis, Fascists, Alt Right. . .   Essays created in moving images, cartoons, are a much more direct way of making comments than long essays with renamed concepts.  They can be grotesque almost to the degree of becoming comic.

Now consider this work by an American woman and her crew.  Far more inventive and -- in the end -- optimistic.

There has never been anything like this before: reality, cartoons, computer tricks, partly a movie, partly mime — all telling a familiar story about modern sibs with aging mothers.

This comment is from Vimeo, the website that presents video:
“While the story of two opposite siblings is a common one, the experimental animation technique in this short is something you’ve never seen before. Filmmaker Daisy Jacob’s multi-dimensional, larger-than-life, stop-motion paintings amplify ordinary tensions between three family members, transforming this classic tale of good brother/bad brother and electrifying it with whimsy. Emotions brim over in the form of flooded showers, 3D steaming kettles, and anger growing like a beanstalk, and the Gondry-esque results look like magic.”

In the Q and A linked above, Daisy says:

“The film took six months to animate and about a year to make, overall, from script writing to post-production. I made it in my second year at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) where I had a crew made up of students from other disciplines, such as cinematography, music, and sound, all working on my film, thus replicating the industry process.”

She goes on to describe how they set up a “room” and filled it partly with real objects but also with painted replicas of the same objects.  She reveals as she talks how “real” the characters are to her:  ’I love the rumble of a 1960s Austin Healey — such a wonderful, throaty sound! Richard’s car is a  made-up version of all the things I’d like in a car, but, yes, it does represent him: it’s noisy, attention-seeking, totally impractical, and rather fun. His is not really a negative presence; he tries to help in his own way and he is better company for Mum than his martyred brother, Nick. She is proud of his drive and status and, like society in general, values these far more than Nick’s dull domestic contribution.”

This same link is also to a short “making-of-vid”  vid.  It demonstrates the enormous care and inexhaustible imagination that make a simple familiar story something quite memorable.   Art can make objects into poetry.

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