Re: Extropic Flare In NY Art Scene

Natasha Vita-More (
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 11:03:29 -0700

At 06:18 PM 9/18/99 +0000, Damien wrote:

>Hm, there would be many people on this list who weren't yet born when 2001
>came out... Maybe even Tron. These are retro-futures. That's not what you
>meant, is it?

2001 came out in 1968 and I think many people on this list were around at time or can see it on video. I don't see it as retro, per se, but a classic. But the designer could have used it to be retro. Retro is an easy catch phrase for designers who like to use things of the past in their work. And even here there is a blurring between a retro futuristic concept and a futuristic concept because of a continue repeat of old with new ideas and then applying them to new technologies. Making something appear new that had once been used could be merely the alteration of beats to a riff, or tilting the camera this way or that.

Hm, as an aside, I like Ebert's criticism of it.

BY ROGER EBERT (film critic)

"The genius is not in how much Stanley Kubrick does in ``2001: A Space Odyssey,'' but in how little. This is the work of an artist so sublimely confident that he doesn't include a single shot simply to keep our attention. He reduces each scene to its essence, and leaves it on screen long enough for us to contemplate it, to inhabit it in our imaginations. Alone among science-fiction movies, ``2001'' is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe.

No little part of his effect comes from the music. Although Kubrick originally commissioned an original score from Alex North, he used classical recordings as a temporary track while editing the film, and they worked so well that he kept them. This was a crucial decision. North's score, which is available on a recording, is a good job of film composition, but would have been wrong for ``2001'' because, like all scores, it attempts to underline the action--to give us emotional cues. The classical music chosen by Kubrick exists *outside* the action. It uplifts. It wants to be sublime; it brings a seriousness and transcendence to the visuals.

Consider two examples. The Johann Strauss waltz ``Blue Danube,'' which accompanies the docking of the space shuttle and the space station, is deliberately slow, and so is the action. Obviously such a docking process would have to take place with extreme caution (as we now know from experience), but other directors might have found the space ballet too slow, and punched it up with thrilling music, which would have been wrong.

We are asked in the scene to contemplate the process, to stand in space and watch. We know the music. It proceeds as it must. And so, through a peculiar logic, the space hardware moves slowly because it's keeping the tempo of the waltz. At the same time, there is an exaltation in the music that helps us feel the majesty of the process.

Now consider Kubrick's famous use of Richard Strauss' ``Thus Spake Zarathustra.'' Inspired by the words of Nietzsche, its five bold opening notes embody the ascension of man into spheres reserved for the gods. It is cold, frightening, magnificent. ..." (snip)