As one of our projects for the Cyberbodies course, our group is currently tasked with creating a one-minute movie that incorporates different theories and readings we’ve covered in the past few weeks and which is intended to appear as a video in an arcade cabinet. Over the weekend we created a rough draft of that video, but have now decided to create a far different one as our final product. However, waste not, want not, so we’ve uploaded the video to YouTube for your viewing pleasure, followed by an explanation of the video below.



So, here’s a brief explanation of why we initially thought this idea was the greatest thing since moving pictures (as well as some of the reasons why we made it the way it is), but later abandoned it.

The original idea was to turn humanism and science (along with the combined goal to modify humans to escape our own finitude), into a farce. We took a violent, slapstick comedy approach, leading from two scientists (male, of course) in the middle of a noble venture to “cure” aging, to a comedic fight that essentially ends with one scientist (most likely) killing the other over a disagreement as to who gets credit. The cat skeleton was originally intended as a lead in to a sort of “Part 2” that would explore the humanist attitude towards of the animal other as discussed in Cora Diamond’s and Cary Wolfe’s work, but we soon realized in editing that it would take the full minute just to get a coherent narrative for the first part. These issues would have worked their way into part one via some of the dialogue cards instead. However, the skeleton still acts as a handy memento mori that helps to bring up the issues of human mortality in Wolfe’s “Flesh and Finitude” and the attempts to modify humans in order to avoid it that are touched on in Langdon Winner’s “Resistance is Futile”.

 There were also several reasons for making the movie in the style of an early black and white silent film. The primary reason was simply technical; we are inexperienced with the technology and with making a movie in general, and in many ways the early film industry also had these problems as it matured, so any errors on our part wouldn’t look particularly out of place. It also gave us a nice excuse to play around with some of the digital editing features, such as adding filters and changing the colour. In addition, the silence forces the actors to rely on their gestures, emphasizing the body. Thematically, it’s worth remembering that “science” in the time period of the black and white (though not necessarily silent) movies was frequently used as means towards odious, irrational, and outright murderous ends—a farce in itself if it weren’t so tragic.

However, after watching the video, dear viewer, you’ve probably noticed one key problem with a video that’s supposed to be part of an arcade cabinet: the lack of interactivity. Our inability to find an appropriate role for the user, one that didn’t seem superfluous or tacked on, essentially scuttled the idea. It was also felt that the video didn’t sufficiently address the issues of “cyber bodies”. And so, back to the drawing board, but with many lessons learned and many new (and improved!) ideas.

Sources:

Diamond, Cora. “The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Reality.” Philosophy and Animal Life.

Frohlich, Richard. “Silent Movie – Sam Fox – Hurry.” thefreesoundproject <http://www.freesound.org/index.php&gt;. Used with permission.

Winner, Langdon. “Resistance is Futile: The Posthuman Condition and Its Advocates.” Is Human Nature Obsolete?: Genetics, Bioengineering, and the Future of the Human Condition.

Wolfe, Cary. “Introduction” and “Flesh and Finitude.” What is Posthumanism.

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