Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the Past Comes the Future

From my blog "The Goblin".

One of the more unfortunate elements of living in such materialistic times is the general non-understanding of what actual quality of life is about. When the majority of the culture is transmitted by quasi-demonic entities in the mass media whose first job is to control your mind & your time & whose second job is to sell you things, the culture is pretty bad off. Lots of things end up sliding through the cracks & with discipline & vision, one is able to piece something together that actually resembles how we'd like things to be. As a kid, you piece together your own culture with whatever is out there. I was always obsessed with swords & sorcery & even better, when swords & sorcery entered into the post-apocalyptic world, which gave me hope that one day, i'd be able to actually live in such a world.
There is this huge emphasis placed on visual quality & slickness which i find to be so disgusting & obnoxious. What is the point of polishing a turd? It's still a turd, no matter how many pixels it is rendered into, or how shiny & 3-dimensional its soundtrack is. However, a tiny little demon figure, sculpted by some anonymous person & sold on the cheap, or even better, bought in an enormous bag at a used toy store resonates so powerfully with me, as it was a focal point for my mighty imagination.

When all dimensions have been rendered, where is the place for the imagination, for the unknown & for further exploration? When everything is explained, where is the room to move? If all the holes have been filled in, how do we escape from the controlled reality?
This isn't an argument for rawness or unpolished facades as a means to an end, this is about understanding what the actual potential for cultural artifacts is about, as opposed to not being able to see beyond the veneer of the thing. All cultural artifacts should be keys to larger, more meaningful areas of existence, not just pretty things or wastes of time.
I have maintained a deliberately rough style in order to leave that space for imagination & for the importance of the content & for the inspiration to shine through. When everything is given, what more is there for us to do? This is the same argument i have against government handouts. What lacks in the world should be a motivator, not an impediment. People who want everything handed over to them, things done for them & things overly explained are vampiric monsters.
Doing more with less is another key lesson in all of this. Limitations bring the best out in us, as long as we do not resent the limitations. If you don't even understand the idea of limitations, the better you are off. Resentment makes you into a little bitch.
You will find that when people are presented with unlimited choice, they tend to make bad decisions.
More about Fairlight here, including MP3s of the songs.


ULAND said...

I really like this post and I'm with you on a number of fronts, but, without putting any kind of negative spin on the word, I wonder how much, or how little, nostalgia has to do with your appreciation of these sorts of things.
I love the idea of pulling back, or not over-rendering in order to maintain enough space for the imagination to take over.
I'd love to see an ephemera blog from you, where it's all pics of artifacts with texts that describe your awesome take on these things. I think I'm more interested in that, to be honest, than new art work made with those ideas in mind; I feel like I can't, for whatever reason, appreciate them in the way I would when I was a kid. But then again, didn't you mention a while back that the comics you make are for kids? I love that, and I'll buy them for my kid ( due in early December.)
In fact, I think you should have your own childrens television show, full of GWAR like characters made on the cheap. The possibilities are endless...

ULAND said...

Also, I think there is a fine-line between explanation and over explanation and I'm sure I cross it from time to time. I tend to prefer novels, for instance, that don't include embedded knowing winks but instead use a more naturalistic or straightforward approach.


Congrats Luke! Glad to hear that you've got a little 'un on its way. Anyhow, yeah, i definitely do most of my work for the kids or at least the kids at heart, & i really feel that i'm not an "artist's artist", although i could be, but it just doesn't do it for me, nor is their any money to be made there. Good idea about the ephemera blog, i think i'll at least include that in my blogging world more. Also agree with you about a show... GWAR-like would be awesome.

Aeron said...

Yeah, congratulations Luke. I think Sean, Fufu and now you are the only ones of us with kids, as far as I know.

And I'm a big fan of the ZX Spectrum. I only really knew about it last fall while researching Karnov and found some great color abstracted version of Karnov running on the ZX. I'm still trying to hunt down a ZX emulator that will work on a Mac. Got any links? I'll have to post some of my favorite ZX videos soon.

"When all dimensions have been rendered, where is the place for the imagination, for the unknown & for further exploration? When everything is explained, where is the room to move? If all the holes have been filled in, how do we escape from the controlled reality?"

It's a weird trade off we have living in the modern world versus the ancient world. The modern world no longer contains any mystery that cannot be googled, looked up on wikipedia, seen on the discovery channel, etc. It's all there in exacting detail.

Things are better now but it must have been inspiring hundreds of years ago to live next to forests that, for all you knew, contained giant monsters, civilizations of fairies, caves full of trolls, and so on. Or to travel the sea and worry about the fantastical things beneath the waves, although very little of the ocean has yet to be explored to this day. So perhaps some of those ancient oceanic horrors do exist, just deeper than we've looked.

It's difficult for me to decide what would be a more inspiring time to live in for my creativity. The ancient days of strange Gods and monsters or the modern world of science where so much art, information and imagery is available at once.

Paleo said...

Too bad that it is impossible for me to picture TV executives and Sean Goblin in the same room (at least without any carnage and much mashing of skulls involved) cause i think your unironic take on adventure will make for a great kid's show.

And congratulations Luke! you'll make one hell of a dad.

ULAND said...

Thanks guys. Pretty psyched.
Sean- I noticed that both of your boys have names that we're considering. Weird, no?

I was thinking the TV show would be like a cable access or a web show; in keeping with the rough-hewn aesthetic.

I'm pretty sure Chris Mostyn has a kid or two. Not sure though. Didn't know Fufu was a Dad either!

Robert Adam Gilmour said...

It depends on what sort of limitations.

I think there is more to the the toys and games than nostalgia,, there is not the "too many cooks" plague of today in them and they always remind me of old crude woodcuts and sculptures.

Some limitations dont even give you a chance to do anything you'd like to do. Here I'm speaking of the limitations of working in mainstream commercial entertainment, which certainly can produce unusual genius results, but I'd rather take underground freedoms any day.

Although I'm more a fan of mystery, I do believe showing "everything" ((you cant truly ever show everything, there is always something that is never explained or shown, such a piece of art or film would be a complete history of the universe,, which is impossible ))) can be done with skill, it is simply a rarity. A SPIDER is still mysterious and frightening no matter how much detail you show and explain them in. Some people confuse th unseen, unheard and unknown as if they were all the same thing.

Jeremy Dyson ((League of Gentleman writer))) has written numerous appreciations of films like THE INNOCENTS and NIGHT OF THE DEMON and even wrote a whole book about those sort of films. In these essays he always mentions that he believes the strength of those films is that they give you lots of room to work with in the foggy areas you cannot properly discern.
He believes that recent CGI horror/fantasy blockbusters suffer from giving the audience everything too clean and sharply, therefore creating a far too passive experience to excite you about the horrors and wonders.

I think having ready access to everything simply makes you more discriminating and elitist in a positive way. Although I do hate it when people cant enjoy something because they cannot explain it. They never embrace EHRFURCHT....
"Ehrfurcht", (((a word I learned from a Dyson essay.... ...)))

Having everything is good, but being a little bitch who demands everything is not good.

You'll always have limitations of a human and will never be able to do everything you would like to,, you'll never be able to explain everything no matter how much you try and even if you have access to everything doesent mean you'll have a life long enough to see it all.

But you already knew all this.
Congrats lucky Lukey!
I'd like some reports on what stimulates the imination of all guys children. Call yourself the EBD Daddy gang and write about the look in their eyes when they respond to the fairy tales you read them.

ULAND said...

"He believes that recent CGI horror/fantasy blockbusters suffer from giving the audience everything too clean and sharply, therefore creating a far too passive experience to excite you about the horrors and wonders. "

I like that idea, but I think it depends on the intentions of the film. There's often a genuine shock in seeing something beyond the pale fully rendered.
Some of it comes off sounding like a typical "things were better in my day" rant.
I'm sure 70s fans were put off by the "advanced" effects of lots of 80s films, for instance.
Thing is, even the old arcade games were trying desperately to use every bit of technology they had available to go over the top; it's only in retrospect that we see what they weren't able to pull off, i.e, what stayed in the fog.
Thanks for the nice words about baby. I'm really looking forward to getting into good media with the kid..

Robert Adam Gilmour said...

I was watching Van Helsing the other night and I think the bad CGI kept my imagination working, because I kept on thinking how good it could have been.

After saying all that above, I dont think it is ever what you show, but how you show it. I've always disliked hardcore adult films, but I'm still convinced explicit close-ups could be done in an artistically accomplished manner, even if I have never seen it yet.

I think the scariest thing in the world is a close-up of a face with some unusual confusing element, perhaps the unknown qulity in their eyes.
But I used to make faces in the mirror to scare myself and I often succeeded, but what on earth could be unknown about looking at my own face?