[H.H] More paintings of demented rabbits

There’s plenty of places where you can find Internet pictures of demented rabbits. But how about paintings based on Internet pictures of demented rabbits?


Easter was odd this year. I am sad to admit I did not paint these with brushes, it’s all done by computer. But I have quite a gallery for the game underway.

PS: sevcom.com has had the same bookmark thumbnail for 15 years. I do try to warn you…

[H.H] Bloody hell, it’s actually happening.

I’m kind of embarrassed that it’s taken a stern deadline but… it’s happening. What? Well here is a sketch from 1999.

And here is a modelling test from 2012.

Click to biggen.

This guy is a Big Mouth Singer, and one of the musical instruments that feature in an installation code named Firelight. If you have suffered my company for very long you might think … it that the same project as he’s been wanking on about since 1999? And you would earn a gold star on the forehead!

The difference was in 1999 I simply could not achieve the results I wanted. VRML didn’t cut it and neither did MPEG-4 once that came and went.In 2003 you might remember these guys:

…that ran in AXEL (sorry I don’t have the work anymore). And then there was Anark and then I had to give up for a while.

In 2012 there are the tools, there is a budget and there is a deadline. Because of this it must be finished and because of this many ideas will have to be cut and the whole thing scaled back to a feasible size. But there’s 13 years of sketches and plot lines and discussions and many guest appearances of the things I’ve tried out (yes, including some airplanes). Mostly there will be many instruments for you to play, rooms full of them.

This guy:

also appeared in a 1999 sketch book and as a simple VRML toy that same year. He’s shaping up to be something a bit more exotic this year

I was once a cube!

He plays the drums. Loud.

Firelight will get updates throughout the year, so stay tuned for the real name and venue a.s.a.p!

The Joan Part 3: Apple Akbar (Update)

Before we get going, here’s a party trick. Find an article about the societal function of grooming amongst primates. Where ever you see the work monkey, replace it with band. For grooming use remix. The article now about the societal remixing between bands still makes perfect sense. Especially the bit about pulling off the skin for extra salt. I remix, and am remixed and the hidden bonding purpose of the process is getting elephantine. Surely a cup of tea would be an easier way?

OK, so where were we? I was going down to inspect a theatre with 3D Steve on Monday, discovered that Monday is public holiday & realised how when you’re running three jobs you don’t know arse from cake hole. Steve was similarly confused as to how many weeks can fit into a second. Academics, huh. They don’t really work.

I found a moment and loaded up the video for Walrus Guitars into VDMX and tried to play it at 720p. While fully aware that Apple computers are the one God and Steve Jobs is the Prophet PBOH, playback still sucked. Oh it’s pretty good but pretty good isn’t what I need. Normally you can allow the frame rate to wobble in VJ sets – dropped frames are just another effect. But what I need is rock solid video which keeps an external sequencer clocked.

(There was also a complete upgrade of VDMX a month ago and I didn’t notice. Arse. Cake hole. They changed the entire interface, as learning curve is the best part of new media am I right? I am always right.)

OK so how about running the video on QuickTime and sending out MIDI Time Code? Doesn’t seem to be an app for that. There’s a QuickTime player that follows MTC, but as it’s Java based the authors have dumped the Mac for dumping Java. PC version is still available and I’ll follow that up.

Here’s a thought: load the video up in Ableton Live. Set that copy of Live to be a MTC master. Now another machine can run the sequencer and receive MTC. OK cool, so I loaded Walrus Guitars into Live. Played it, that’s looking good. Dragged the video over to the external monitor and all hell broke loose. Black lines strobed through the video eventually leading to both screens having seizures and, as Macintoshes never crash, catatonic at the beach if you know what I mean.

I ‘gift economied’ this image. Because it is art.

Maybe I don’t use the Mac. At least I need to find some other software that plays video on the external screen without done pooh itself. Looks like Soundtrack Pro will take a MTC input.

Maybe I play the video off the DELL laptop instead, 8 cores it should be able to do it.

(Just for shits and giggles I installed OSX 10.6.7 on the DELL, got it it to boot, realised that it was a completely useless achievement and took it off again. I don’t know… Hey – now look – the best selling app on the iPad is something that reproduces your Windows desktop on the iPad screen. If that doesn’t tell you that the rhetoric is indivisible by the reality I dunno what. In the ‘post PC’ era what do people most want? – to use their PC. Case closed.)

OK so, when the temperature next goes above freezing, to do:

  • See if Soundtrack Pro can play a video and send MTC at once. Answer – no, but it will ‘chase’ MTC. What about Logic?
  • Try out the DELL as a MTC slave. But I don’t want to be transporting the DELL. The DELL is too nice.
  • Chip icicles off my bed cover while fighting a sense of impending doom.


Daniel says try Reaper. Will do!

Looks like playback is choppy no matter what I use – except QuickTime player itself. I have a suspicion. Maybe the drive is fragmented? NO! Macintosh Drives are NEVER fragmented. You don’t have to defrag an OSX disc because oh shut up and lets have a look.

Fuck. My test file is in 231 fragments. In fact the whole hard drive looks like Swiss cheese. Bought a copy of iDefrag (which makes OSX cost another 30 bucks people, but hey you do get GarageBand) and I’ll start doing the hard drive version of Aliens 2.

Meanwhile, yeah, I’ll probably need a Firewire 800 external. Or maybe USB3 or whatever stuff the computer people have come up with in the last few weeks. Sigh.

COFA Annual is up.

Sorry for r e a l l y slow responses – particularly people who ordered CDs and are still waiting for delivery.
I sometimes apologise that “the day job currently requires all my time”. This is an example of the day job in overload mode.

The COFA Annual exhibition is up, this year around 350 exhibits filling up Carriageworks for a week. We survived the two opening nights and for me it was a lot of stringing cables, swearing at computers, getting projectors to power up etc. The usual panic & digital slavery.

In the past I just put together the media for Showcase night, but this year stupidly suggested setting up four user controlled viewing kiosks running off Blu Ray. That means that the kids can dial up their own film when they come visit. With nearly sixty short films filling nearly four hours submitted we’ve really hit a high – but that means authoring four Blu Rays where every little setting has to be checked over sixty times or the discs play wrong. Each fix/rebuild takes about 2 hours, and as of about 4pm yesterday I was screaming death at the burner, running out of time to get the kiosks up for doors open…

They were up for doors open.

Of course there was yet one more tiny error on disc 4 which means I’m back authoring it again around 11pm. A mystery stop after two hours (finally found a stop command attached to a chapter, overriding the end action of the time line. Arse.)

Funny addendum to the post about ‘end of the world’ films: at one point all four screens had one playing. It really is striking how many variations on doom scape we had this year – rapture, virus, atomic war, time collapse and of course zombies. Another thing we’re noticing – music boxes.

Once these are under control it’s time to get the Showcase built and THERE CAN BE NO ERRORS. Been no errors since I started doing this, and it’s not going to start in 2010. The showcase is ticket only but the films are showing all week and entry is free. As soon as the artists start posting their films to YouTube I’ll link them.

Gravity from Brian Zou on Vimeo.

VFX Showreel 2010 from Daniel Ward on Vimeo.

1000 percent clown action! SHOWBAG is go! (UPDATED)

What a damn epic.

You’re looking at 120 dollars worth of Blu Ray discs. Man, these things are expensive. Two spindles of 25 cost 240 bucks and then they delivered them to the wrong address. But that’s par for this project – it’s fought me every step of the way. I suspect that’s a very good sign.

Look at this:

The disc is held by a double sided foam square, which is holding the sleeve closed. The sleeve is card held by the photo media guides. I printed off about 20 or so before I got the look I wanted. I had only used a mock up until tonight, the theory seems to be working. Throwing the compact around, it seems to be holding. Until I mail it, I won’t know for sure. There’s balloons and metal confetti inside!

Now here’s the numbering system!

52 playing cards which mark 52 original Showbags! You can’t see the design on the back of the card but it’s … rather unique. You’ll know you have an original copy once you see it. If we go past 52 copies then I’ll make something similar.

OK so here’s some bad news.

The first batch will be Australian/European PAL. I am sorry but tests show that there is still a big difference between PAL and NTSC playback even on HD systems. I cannot be sure that USA televisions will work with the videos as they are. But I will make sure that some of the first 52 WILL BE NTSC format. As soon as possible these will be available.

If you intend to run the disc on a computer drive, then you can use the PAL version anywhere. Computers don’t care. Televisions do. If you are in the USA and choose the PAL version I will double check that you understand. The American NTSC version will run at 24 frames per second. This means that the HD video will be 4 percent SLOWER than real time, with the sound pitch corrected. Running the HD video slower is cleaner than converting to 29.97 fps. The standard definition clips will be at 29.97. I am trying the main video at 59.97fps.

I will soon mail have mailed off a free copy to a lucky person. When I do that the Post Office will be able to tell me how much this is going to cost. IT IS HEAVY, and although I swear that I will sell it for damn near cost, the postage will likely be is expensive. So as soon as I have the postage I will make these available for order. PAL is now shipping.

Right now I am drinking champagne sent to me by Government House, well deserved, and frankly making up for a rather horrible week or so.

Tonight is garbage night. MY NIGHT.

Mime artist

Deeper into the rabbit hole this week trying to build a connection between Personality (of the artist) and Character (of the artwork). I’ve already discussed some of the points that have to be explained (while acknowledging the explanation is not yet there.) The last question was – by what means is a personality encoded in the work? How do I store my personality in an object?

The ancient Greeks had concepts that still work here. There is a real thing, and then there is the mimema, the thing that represents that real thing. The comparison is given of pressing a seal into hot wax, the wax holds the shape of the seal but none of the matter. The process is called mimesis, from which we have mimetic, mimic and mime. The pressure makes a copy which is a form, of no use unless it calls up a logical association in the recipient. The encoding only works because the sender and the receiver share the same decoding pad. So for example, I paint a picture of a house, you see this and the concept of a house is recalled. If you had only seen igloos, the communication breaks down. At this level the process seems convenient – but no particular art is involved, any picture of a house will do. So why go beyond pictograms?

A comparison with dreams can be made. Natural things can be aisthetic, that is provide material for the senses (in comparison to logic for the intellect). But mimemata are made, they require techne, which is a word that means both art and skill and of course provides technology. Mimemata are dreams that are made by people who are skilled.

This concept fits into Plato’s universal view. The artwork is simply a reminder of a thing that is itself an imperfect copy of the ideal – he talks of an ideal bed, the bed made by a carpenter and a painting of a bed, and sees each as less useful in turn. However, we can try represent the ideal directly – I can paint an image of a dog that is not a reproduction of an existing dog, I can perhaps create a work that portrays the ideal of ‘a dog’.

The Neo-Platonists put it like this: The One (the perfect origin of everything) creates a product which is necessarily inferior. This aspires to be rejoined with The One and so difference is created (less perfect things are multiple). This Ideal produces its own product that is again inferior, The Soul. Art is useful and good in that it seeks to transcend the imperfections of matter. The idea in the artist’s mind is always superior to the form of the work, and making art is an expression of the desire to be elevated above the material world.

In the Christian ages The One became God and the artist sought to elevate themselves by revealing the order and discipline that underlays all of His creation. You can see why a fight broke out over Icons – to the west they were mnemonics of the hidden structure of reality, to the east they were insults to something that describes but cannot be described. Both are true if you think this way. I don’t really want to, but it might help to try it for a moment.

So let’s. Rather than use ‘transcription’, which is an unskilled mechanical process, the character of the artwork could be described as a mimema of personality. I’m then able to build upon the discussion that has surrounded aisthesis for several thousand years – whether that’s a good thing I don’t yet know. Instinctually I think it will be helpful in building a concept that’s sufficient for the work at hand…

Sketch it out: there exists shared data which exists ‘above’ the artist and the viewer. For Plato this is an ideal world in which the default templates of everything is stored, perhaps for me it’s the complexes of the mental apparatus  in both persons. The data is not stored in the object, it is referenced by the object. So (big jump here) is the quality of the artwork no more important than the font in which a library call number is written? No… The ‘font’ is part of the means by which we retrieve the data – an artwork is more ‘beautiful’ when more accurate to the shared mental complex.

Very wobbly … but I think I can move Personality out of the object, place it in a ‘shared space’ between the people (a culture?) – idealise it with my chosen metric – and describe Character as a kind of index, the accuracy of which can be tested by how well it retrieves the personality metric – while at the same time relating this to terminology of aesthetics so far as I understand them.

That’ll do for today!

Jed From Landis

Jed worked at Landis Music back in the early 80s. He sold pianos, and increasingly synthesisers. Jed was the man who found me a whole KORG MS modular system for $250. That immediately places him in Master of the Universe status.

Up on the wall was a picture of Jed in white tuxedo with a white bow tie, sitting at a piano. I seem to remember there were balloons in the background but that might be confabulation from the grog. The photo was from when he played the piano on cruise ships. I like to think that many pretty ladies swooned to hear him play and would drift to his cabin after all night tinkling. But then I know a guy that DJ’ed on a cruise ship years later and he said that most of the ladies tended to be rolled up and down the decks in wheelbarrows by their husbands.

I would buy just about anything Jed pointed at. I bought a whole host of Electroharmonix drum padsCrash Pads, Syndrums and a thing called a Clockworks which was the ‘brain’ of the pads, if by brain you mean something that could count to 12. I still have that. The rest of it I hit too hard and broke. Jed said it was as if somebody had dropped bricks on them.

I was looking at synthesisers one time and it was a big decision between this and that – back then you’d get a new synthesiser maybe once a year, not like virtual instruments. I asked Jed about it and he said – people spend their life learning how to play the piano.

And as always if Jed said it, it is best to think hard upon it.

The day I walked into a room of my house and saw all the synthesisers I owned piled up in a circle like an electronic Stonehenge – it was Jed’s axiom that came to mind. I got rid of almost all of them, sold them, gave them away, passed them on at cost*. Over the years however, Stonehenge just moved from reality onto the hard drive. Around the beginning of this year it was ImageLine’s Harmless virtual synthesiser. I didn’t want another, but it was on special… and… it sounded nice and…

The first synthesiser I bought, I knew every tiny tweak and turn, every minor movement that would get the thing to do exactly what I wanted. Same for the MS20, I can still work that thing with my eyes closed, get everything from a woman’s voice to a planet dissolving. But let’s be honest: I have much less command over Absynth or Reaktor, MaxMSP or even Harmless. Just don’t have the patience or the time to sit and learn every control. I don’t really need Pro Tools plus Ableton Live plus FL Studio plus Soundtrack Pro. No one does. Anyone who has a passion for music struggles to focus their libido on composing and not on shopping. Like Stewart says, by the time you get electronic music gear set up you’ve forgotten the inspiration that led you there. He’s gone back to the bassoon.

This is a wider issue. Imagine a pack of baying hounds, running here and there chasing whatever fox or rumour of fox is current. The hounds at front are lost but they bark the loudest. Right now they are barking about one thing, tomorrow it’ll be something else; anything will do so long as it allows the chase to keep going. The running about never touches on the heart of the matter – it’s all about chasing ‘solutions’ to things we didn’t need solved.

Some are barking about HTML5 which apparently will bring a revolutionary change to the workings of the Internet – I guess the same change that VRML was going to bring back in ‘94, or perhaps DHTML or what about SVG; there’s been yapping going back a long way. They woof: HTML5 will free the slaves forced to use Adobe Flash (quite happily up to this point) – although how a banner advertisement will be any less annoying when open source remains mysterious.

Very few things made in Flash have so far been beautiful.
Maybe we should concentrate on that rather than learn another way to do the same thing.

There’s one hound up front with a turtle neck sweater and little round glasses – his yapping is all about how a particularly virginal mobile phone will not have any Flash derived software – it would defile the purity. The howling and baying strikes up across the pack: the phone won’t run Flash… but then it doesn’t run HTML5 either. In fact it won’t properly display many web pages, and the whole browsing experience is like knitting a sweater for ants.

Maybe the entire idea of reading on a telephone needs questioning.

There’s another pack of dogs who are howling for more touch screens, more knobs and ribbons and heart rate monitors and Wiimotes and anything else that could possibly modulate a sound or an image. They’ve forgotten that they were once seeking these things to make better music. The audience finds them irrelevant and are increasingly happy with Led Zeppelin. I can’t tease them enough but it’s hopeless, they can’t hear above the noise.

The endless hunt is empty and pointless but the hounds rush on to the next great idea for delivering nothing, faster. Will it be a cloud or pad or a thrown stick? Who knows, they don’t. Their baying deafens our ears.

I am not about to trash my laptop and go live in a tree. That’s pointless. Jed’s advice was to stop and use what you have – REALLY use it – in the service of inspiration. Hold the upgrades: I want to learn how to play an instrument, not buy ‘solutions’. I want to clear my mind of all the shit that pundits and marketers, CEOs and fan boys keep trying to wedge in there. I think we should tell them to get out of our face and we’ll be far better artists for it.

BTW don’t wait for the academics to lead the changes. I just got this in an email:

“This concept will need to incorporate a vibrant materialism of the image’s sensory and cognitive strata and an evanescent immaterialism of its affective qualities. Rather than locate our conference in the space of negotiation between disciplines or media (the “inter-“), we propose the opposition, transit and surpassing of the interdisciplinary by a “transdisciplinary aesthetics”, and its conceptual and physical practice of a “transdisciplinary imaging.”

Trans – the upgrade to Inter.

* Recently a ‘lifestyle’ magazine contacted me for an interview. Everything seemed to be in place until I mentioned I didn’t have any ‘old gear’. That killed it; I mean who wants to talk about music when you can stand in front of old gear.


First of all we are aware of problems with sevcom.com and tomellard.com dropping out and being slow and when Stephen gets a chance he’ll advise me on whether the Chinese Army are attacking or what up. I am moving online sales to an external service and will announce it when it’s ready.

Secondly – Sensible Blog is now running.

Here’s something not sensible enough:

I like television. That is, I never watch television and I don’t like TV shows or the ads or TV culture. I like television, the thing itself. That‘s hard to explain. My poor students are often subjected to my enthusiasm which seems entirely impractical for assignments and their later fame.

The only things I really like watching (apart from videos of mechanical televisions etc.) are idents and test cards, and I’m obviously not the only one. I love motion graphics, how things are designed to occupy space, colour and time. I like abstract video synthesis more than watching people.

But really I like television because it is the machine of my childhood. There are men (usually men) that are thrilled by steam locomotives, by short wave radio, by phone exchanges, tin toys, calculators … whatever mechanical fetish you can think of there will be men (usually men) that collect, debate, and play around with it in a nonsensical useless way. The epitome of this is Hi Fi, which has nothing to do with the enjoyment of recorded music and everything to do with the perfect tone arm lowered onto a pristine half speed mastered slab of vinyl. But also model rail-roads circling around a tiny landscape, shelves of unwatched DVDs arranged alphabetically and arcade machines lined up geometrically in the basement. The activity is always kept away from usefulness, and woeful is the man that gets a job in the thing he loved when it wasn’t a job.

It has to be play, or it doesn’t count.

Now one standard answer to this is ‘sublimation’. That is – man has lusts that are not acceptable to society; he therefore sidetracks the desire into symbolic pursuits, which explains the odd intensity of the activity and its overt uselessness. (Although some men do make good use of their libido in becoming CEO of something or other and dying of heart attack aged 50.) The man who is a dedicated Dwarf level 90 in some online world is no danger to society, unless you forcibly un-dwarf him, suddenly unleashing the hidden lusts kept at bay. ‘Online Addiction’ is a complex business.

(I have gone though some analysis and can pinpoint exactly where and how my own process of sublimation has taken place. I’m quite satisfied that it has validity – but you’ll have to excuse my not providing you with the personal evidence.)

That’s all very well as a recent phenomena, but what did men do before model rail roads? What sublimative technology was available to the first humans? Here is Gronk, carving his stone tip for his spear; does he have time to argue with Klonk about chipping from the bottom up? No, these stone tips were a serious business, life or death, something you would be buried with to survive the afterlife. I guess that lusts were pretty much acted on straight away until people started to settle together in groups and get the food supply stabilised with repositories and so on. A stable food supply meant there was time to wonder how the universe worked – and how to get along with the neighbours. Which gave us magic and religion.


Magic of course is the key we’ve been looking for. Magic isn’t just about why it rains. Magic is about how you can make it rain or not rain. By rituals you humbly request that nature bend this way or that, if it doesn’t work you didn’t do the ritual right. Magical rituals are interestingly similar to some of the activities of Hi Fi enthusiasts, following an internal logic, with strange repetitive processes that must be followed to avoid failure, odd components that are rare and expensive and so on. The magician believes that there is a perfect knowledge that will bring power over the world. The average enthusiast feels happiest when the steam engine has hit that perfect note, or in my case when designing a high definition playback system. Something however small is under control.

If you can cast spells, that’s fundamentally more interesting than the tedious tasks for which your spells will be used – finding lost animals, some gold coins, smite some enemies etc. The magician is intoxicated by the thing itself. I’m like that with television.

When you go out to a club or a show, you will see there are some people that immediately focus on any available video screen. Or there will be people at a VJ performance that spend the night watching the person operating the mixer and ignoring the screen. I am the former, a type ‘V’. The latter we’ll call type ‘H’, and allow that there are some in-between. These groups are really quite obvious when you run a band that uses video for umpteen years. When you teach video production you will see the students group themselves so that the V’s get the cameras and the H’s are scripting or researching. God help all H teams.

Type ‘V’ watches life through a viewfinder, where it is under control. Even better is to create a world on screen where every colour and form is directly selected. Video production and especially motion graphics satisfies a psychological need for order, it scratches an itch that’s been there since birth (if you believe in nature) or near birth (if you believe in nurture). It probably relates to toilet training.

There’s a PhD topic : Video Synthesis and Toilet Training.

I suspect certain aspects of synthetic video are somehow connected with symptoms of autism – the spinning and blinking and repetition. I can’t claim a causal relationship, and of course some aspects of synthetic video are simply limitations of the machinery – limited sample space, the low contrast of video, colour space etc. It’s just a hunch that type V is based on a complex (which is a very loose term for a structure in the brain).

The psychology of video synthesis is looming as a major issue in my research, a dangerous deviation or the key to the whole thing. I think to understand synthesis (and actually the whole European electronic music tradition) you need to read Freud, Jung, Adler et al. But for now I will keep this in the silly blog away from supervisors with rolled up newspapers. Safer here.



Quite a few people took me to task for that last post. Basically ‘stop being such a big woman’s blouse’. (This puzzled THE WIFE no end. “But you’re not even a woman”. Although she had to admit I was perhaps big.) No – friends and post punk survivors – I spoke on behalf of us all. Is a man not entitled to be photographed in long pants? No, says the man in Washington, the pants belong to the art establishment. Or something like that.

For all of you who said “Fuck You Ellard, I ain’t even got my 15 minutes”, just remember Kandinsky who was a law lecturer until he was 30. You never know you might get your 15  minutes in your 70’s. Just keep on law lecturing and fantasising about the day you are going to quit and be a painter.


A tort.

In an effort to continue to be a lecturer this week I have been in further training. This basically involves being locked in a dungeon with 20 other lecturers and branded with hot irons for a month. No exaggeration! Well it was kind of like that.

Really we were confined in a room most of the week as if performing jury duty, which I guess was designed to stop us from getting lost or drunk or thinking that we were butterflies dreaming we were lecturers or actually I have no idea why they do that. There were three of us from KUNST KAMP alongside fellows from MILITARY INDUSTRIAL KOMPLEX and various burrows within the DEATH STAR itself. I won’t get too far into the procedures suffice to say it was like a gentler, kinder Scientology meets Stockholm syndrome.

My favourite bit was when I got to sit up the back of a large lecture hall browsing Facebook on a laptop and ignoring the lecturer in a simulation of the average student experience. Damn, I can see why they do that. Except for Facebook. We were asked for our thoughts on engaging the students but my suggestion of a long stock whip was not accepted, so I sulked the rest of the week.

Today I was released and staggered out into the light, clutching my training manual with new scout badge burned into my forehead – a more evolved super lecturer retrofit with bio enhancements – withering disdain for students’ feelings, able to read two PowerPoints through each eye, able to slam rulers at maximum speed on benches – A Living God.


On the phone about 50 messages from THE WIFE about we’ve run out of toilet paper.

I now have a raging headache. Oh stop your whining!

You people who have worked for large employers are already used to this, you’ve been through performance reviews and retraining and bonding sessions before. Forgive me for being new to it. Think back to the first time your boss shot you with a paint ball and you didn’t know whether it was a good idea to fire back. All I have are old episodes of Bewitched where Larry would invite the boss and wife to dinner and then get turned into a poodle.

Actually earlier this week we had our final year screening of student works. That went well, because I spent the whole night in the projection booth staring at the Blu Ray player daring it it go wrong in some way. My first time at authoring Blu Ray, and that has not been a smooth process so I was anxious. Afterwards the winning students wanted to celebrate and the losing ones to drown their sorrows so we were off to the local for some attitude adjustment. Most of the time I spent with one of my masters who probably can’t remember what he said or even where he was that night. This was really the payoff for the whole damn year, staff and students equally blotto singing the KUNST KAMP anthem and celebrating FINE ARTS in the time honoured tradition. Now THAT isn’t in the training manual – but by god I’ll write it in in biro.

Computer games are movies. Get over it.

There. Got your attention.

The problem revealed by The Spirits Within and The Polar Express; that synthetic actors look like freshly dug corpses dragged about on invisible meat hooks – this is not going to hold Hollywood back for too many more years.

Please view this pictorial comparison. One of these is DAZ3D’s latest ‘unimesh’, Victoria 4.2. The other is a bag full of Botox called Nichole Kidman.

popup_7kidmanms0809_468x651 In case you’re not sure, the one on the left is the download. Neither of these ladies can act, but the download is free, can be any age, skin colour, body weight or whatever you need. Instantly. Doesn’t date junkies, whine for millions or run to the tabloids. Clothing is about 12 bucks a dress.

Being a unimesh she can also be male if required.

Now we’ve been promised this future almost as many times as flying cars, but it has tenacity, great tenacity, getting more urgent as Hollywood struggles to find a foothold. They are in the same boat as recording artists and that boat is The Titanic. They are going to build a bridge over Uncanny Valley and it will be a 8 lane highway. Yes, they had to retreat back to toys and ants and jungle animals, but it was a strategic retreat and the counter attack is not far off.

This is the problem: recording is no longer tenable. Performance is safe, plot, cinematography, soundtrack – all of that is still needed, but the idea that you have only one recording of an artistic performance is not long for this world. Musicians can’t sell albums, Hollywood can’t sell films – we have lost respect for them because we think (perhaps foolishly) we can do them ourselves and we want to at very least ‘mash up’ our own take on our entertainment.

The recording is only as old as the phonograph and the cinematographe. They are technologies that have had a good run, but like the panorama and the zoopraxiscope they can’t last for ever. And this is not simple ‘modernist’ progress but a cycle backwards to find a fresh way forward.

We will have a format where there’s potential for different outcomes, paths, unexpected twists. Sometimes you have one leading lady, next time it could be two men. Set the action in Rome or on Mars it doesn’t matter to the arc of the story. Who would you trust to hold this together? Who could be the one to ride this cacophony? Not the film director with their ‘auteur vision’ and their careful tip toeing over the bad angles. No, you need a Theatre Director. Someone that can fly seat of their pants night after night without the trick of edits and takes. The new media (hooray it’s back!) will be a study of Brecht, not Eisenstein.

This is how it will be. The stage is where the entertainment will be delivered, given the current trade shows, most likely a 3D screen of some sort. On your console will be found the synthespians Victoria 7 and Michael 8 or whatever the model is that year. We have props, clothing, scenery and so on. We buy the latest romance written by our Theatre team – not a time line but via motivations, obstacles, Jungian archetypes, all the ingredients. Our artist has devised a situation and it’s open to us to place it on Mars or Rome as we wish.


Michael loves Vikki. Vikki wants to be an explorer – ‘wait for me’. But Stephanie is in the wings with designs on Michael. We’d prefer that Stephanie was Stephen – no problem, the faces and gestures are simply called up from a bank. The end is very sad. We tweak the motivations so that Vikki finds true love, and one of the viewers saves that version as her favourite. Everybody gets a boon – directors still direct, costumers design clothing that will be scanned and sold, musicians learn to use event driven composition tools. Even the actors will find fame as the greatest face or body movement to sweep over the consoles. Every viewer can play with the variables and hope one day to be a published creator. Jobs and dreams are restored.

The underlying technologies are already in place, but we lack a sufficient interface to direct them. For example MPEG-7 is an existing scheme for describing media such that it can be resynthesised, but it is so cryptic that it’s had very minor traction in the arts – especially compared to MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 which we all know as ‘.mp3’. That thing that killed the music industry.

My future research would seem to be building an interface so that a director (or conductor) can use MPEG-7 to create with existing video and sound assets. For example direct a stored video rainstorm to clear up over a time set by a live performance. The interface is the missing element. To make a comparison – you could write directly in Portable Document Format – but it’s easier and more artistic to use Indesign.

The transition between real and virtual becomes easier. At my workplace they have a print shop, you can get your posters and books made there. They now have a 3D scanner, which can copy a small object, about the size of a figurine. And a 3D printer, which can make a real plastic copy of your 3D art. We hope to soon have a suit that records body motions, at which time we can have directors choreograph action for storage. Now that an art college can afford these things – a personal device is not too far off.

I’ve cheated by calling this a game, it’s not, but using motivations and problems to direct the action is closer to game design and I firmly believe that the future ‘film director’ must study both stage plays and computer games to be aligned with future trends in entertainment. Musicians must learn on FMOD as much as Cubase. Video should be seen projected on walls and 3D designers aligned with set builders. In effect we arrive exactly back at the same point as the last scribble – why disdain the game? Media Art is not going to follow the same worn tracks of the last half century.

It is going to melt, and that melt is going to be called Music.