An animated short by Jamie Lin, Ginny Hung and myself, based on the poem “Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich” by Shel Silverstein. After discovering a mutual love for Shel Silverstein’s work, our group wanted to take it back to childhood and create a light-hearted, whimsical animation. Created using After Effects and Flash with original illustrations done in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
A short film created by Alvin Chang, Avery Max, Ginny Hung, Jamie Lin, Suzanne Kirkpatrick and myself.
One week of storyboarding, talent hunting, location scouting and props preparations. Two days of filming. Another week of editing. An East Village apartment transformed into a photobooth. Here’s a look behind the scenes.
A stop motion animated short based on the board game Risk. An ITP Communications Lab collaboration by Andi Cheung, Jen Ho, and Dave Boyhan. With special thanks to Dan Scofield.
First off, I did not particularly enjoy Walter Benjamin’s style of writing. It was, as someone worded perfectly, “off-putting.” It was dense and fragmented, almost like reading his train of thought. I understand that the reading was an English translation of a German essay written in 1935 for a very specific group of people in academia, but I felt that his ideas could have been presented in a much more accessible way.
From what I can claim to understand, Walter Benjamin is basically exploring the relationship between art and technological development, and how the increasing ease of reproduction over time has played a significant role in democratizing art. Art that was once only accessible to an elite group could now be reproduced and made available for the enjoyment of the masses. Benjamin seemed fascinated with photography and film in particular because of the ability to generate multiples copies of each, without one copy being more “authentic” than another. Historically, we have seen art as tradition/ritual evolve to become art as mass media. While this phenomena has served to liberate and equalize the classes, he also acknowledged and feared that film can also be abused and used as a device for control.
One concept I cannot seem to grasp entirely is what Benjamin calls “aura” (or “uniqueness”). Is aura an experience? Or does it imply some sense of unreachability that technology has diminished by providing accessibility? Benjamin states that aura withers in the age of mechanical reproduction. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with this statement. I would assume that the sense of awe from standing in the Sistine Chapel and looking up at Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man” could not possibly be diminished just because pages and pages of photographs can be found by conducting a simple Google image search.
1 Xacti video camera. 4 ITP students. 45 minutes.
E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” reminded me quickly of a Lewis Mumford quote that Red shared in Applications, “The machine itself makes no demands and holds up no promises. It’s the human spirit that makes demands and keeps promises.”
The reading paints a morbid picture of a future in which mankind, in all their efforts to control the world around them, finally succeeds in creating a Machine that in addition to providing all their basic needs for life, also fulfills their every desire with the push of a button. Overtime, people become so desensitized, reliant and paralyzed by this escapist technology, that it essentially becomes their God. With communication advancements, face to face interaction became unnecessary. Advancements in science destroys the uniqueness of different countries on Earth, wiping out the need for travel. Human to human relationships become virtually nonexistent, replaced with only one relationship, between man and machine. And to be without the Machine, was death.
I was excited to find many parallels between the reading and one of my favorite Disney-Pixar films, WALL-E. In the movie, humans are stranded in a large spaceship controlled by an evil automated pilot system, while Earth undergoes a massive restoration initiative. Consumed and constantly surrounded by technology and media and convenience, the humans in the movie have become so obese from being stationery that they have lost the function of their legs. The beauty of WALL-E was its appeal to a range of ages in shedding light on some dark and imminent issues, such as over-consumption, pollution and the sustainability of the planet. E.M. Forster examines these issues further, addressing the loss of free thinking, free will, sense of space and sense of touch, which are privileges and what we (as people living in a free world) agree to be the rights of every human being. Unlike WALL-E’s Disney ending, the story ends as the Machine breaks down and mass chaos and hysteria ensues as humans slowly die, unable to survive without the Machine after being dependent on it for so long. Though somewhat horrific, the irony of the ending is that in dying, humans regain their humanity, and in that their ability to feel and to relate.
Though extreme, the reading succeeds in speaking to me on a personal level and addresses the concerns I have for our Apple-loving society. There are times when I sense myself becoming too attached to technology, namely my MacBook and iPhone, that I realize that I need to take a step back and examine what I truly value. Not the gadgets itself, but the communication and relationships it allows me to upkeep, which in turn will always be secondary to the act of actual physical relating through face to face conversation or touch. To put things into perspective, I will sometimes ask myself, how many books could I have read, or skills could I have taught myself in the time spent watching mindless videos. How many important world events have gone unnoticed, or big ideas lost? Technology is essentially just a tool, although it is not always easy to recognize the dangers of worshiping it. I think this is especially pertinent for me now, as an ITP student, consumed everyday by technology, to keep top of mind. As the quote above implies, it is not the machine, but the human spirit that makes any accomplishment a worthy one.