#edcmooc Thursday’s space waltz (7:34)
Ground control says Thursday depicts a tension between a natural and a technological world, with humans caught between the two. They want us to consider what message the film is presenting about technology, what losses and gains are described, and who or what has agency in the film…
I find it the most difficult to interpret of the four short films in week one of our mooc. The opening would seem to be introducing a story about twitter… but I’m never sure throughout whether it’s taking the piss and trying to say something critical, or whether it’s just a cheesy fun bit of fluff, a bit like Inbox. I’m guessing the latter, as the animator’s website I just looked up (http://www.matthiashoegg.co.uk/Thursday ) describes this as “an everyday love story set in the not so distant future” where we see blackbirds “battling with technology, automatic palm readers and power cuts”. It was made for Future Shorts, a global short film festival – like Tropfest in Sydney, but online (http://www.youtube.com/user/futureshorts/videos )
My plot recount: a birdie seeks food on the street and, threatened by a street sweeping truck, flies off into the traffic noise of a dull and endless cityscape where its voice is quickly lost…. merging with the alarm of a waking person, who goes straight to his computer to start the day. We see his ‘tweets’ seeking and finding a lady in a park somewhere in the depths of the grey cityscape… who similarly spends her every waking moment managing messages on a phone or computer… in the park she traverses, the birdcall is clear, but that is soon drowned by a cacophony of noise emanating from the telecommunications towers around the city… She goes up to her characterless office on umteenth floor…. the bird enters into a shaft from the roof of the office building and starts pulling at wires that look like worms… communications are interfered with, the office block is short circuited, but the bird brings its bit of wire to add to its nest in a satellite dish…. workers in the office block go mad with boredom not knowing what to do without their power supply and digital activity… except the young woman, who is on her phone to the man at his home computer… he tries to block out the irritating sunshine through the window that interferes with his view of the computer screen… getting her message, he heads to where she is, and they go on a date to the highest structure in the world to see the view… hours later they reach their destination at the top of an elevator to space, where they float about marvelling at the distant electrical activity on earth and the sparking stars in outer space… for a brief few moments before being rushed back down the elevator. The next morning as she heads off for work and he makes his morning coffee, one of the baby birds from the nest smashes into his apartment window…lying stunned, its eyes and those of the man meet. The end.
If I had to categorise it as either utopian or dystopian I’d say the latter, simply because the cityscape depicted is so bland and bleak, and the relationships so apparently meaningless….
On the question of agency, the social structure we see human characters engaging with is predominantly digital, and we don’t see people or birds making ‘choices’ exactly, other than to tweet and go to ‘work’. Noone is portrayed as thoughtful or deliberative. the only stop and think moment is when the bird smashes into the window, and both bird and man stare at one another, and we see them reflected in one other’s eyes… but there is no indication of whether or what they may be thinking, whether or not they are affected by this event. The bird gets up and flies off. The man sort of shakes his head, and then the film ends. I find that irritating to be honest, I wish it went somewhere and said something. It’s beautifully done, and has received much acclaim, but has a visual animation style reminiscent of cheap mindless computer games that I don’t relate to well, so I didn’t enjoy watching this as much as the other films this week, to be honest. Some of Hoegg’s other work looks more interesting (to me)….