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Mission to Earth

‘Mission to Earth’ is a science fiction allegory of the immigrant experience. It adopts the variable choices and multi-frame layout of the Soft Cinema system to represent ‘variable identity’.

It is one of the “movies” or projects that are hosted on the DVD published and distributed by MIT Press (2005). This DVD is assembled is such manner that every viewing experience is different. All elements of the screen are interchangeable. The screen is divided into different smaller screens, and every screen or windows hosts it’s own movement, motion. The narrative and the length of the movie is different every time you view it.

As  I found out in Manovich interview:

The editing of the films was done semi-automatically with the help of Soft Cinema software written by Andreas Kratky. Using the rules defined by the authors, the software generates variable screen layouts and also selects the sequences of media elements that appear on the screen. The elements are drawn from a media database unique to each film. Each of the films on the DVD explores a particular area of the aesthetic landscape made possible by this approach.

Mission to Earth follows (if I can use the term “follow” in something as nonlinear as this) Inga, an extra-terrestrial being who comes to Earth by her government’s demand. Over the course of years, she becomes somewhat ambiguous where her loyalties, memories and emotions lie. After she receives a call to come home, her laceration becomes even more evident. She doesn’t know where she belongs anymore. I see Mission to Earth as a story about the fragility of identity and what makes it stable. In a world where pictures are flying at us, by us and  near us at great speeds, where people we know are virtually and empirically close, but ontologically and geographically distant one is always engaged in a dialectic of narratives.

That dialectic is shown on a screen; the music feels somewhat arbitrary, multi-windowed screen doesn’t really say much per se. We are de facto confronted with the screen and driven to make sense of things. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

The “movie” reminds me of video games.I am propelled through not so thick layer of narration. It exist, but is not dominant, nor self sufficient. It is also a characteristic of video game. The user is encouraged to find his way through, but then again, on every step reminded that this is only a movie, and I am a steady spectator waiting to see where it leads. But then again, unlike most of the movies, this one requires me to participate by reading and watching simultaneously two or three screens at any given time to make some sense. That interface is making me forget about the loss of narrative aspect (through words) and is inaugurating the new narrative through obligatory perspective contained in three screens. These screens represent my freedom in choosing a perspective, and at a same time are anticipating it’s imprisonment. It becomes clear I cannot be satisfied without a firm ending.

By re-examining my views I found that the medium in which the message is contained is very significant to my expectations of the narrative. This was on a DVD, which for me represents a solid medium and normally contains a complete work of art (whatever that may be). Surfing the Internet I sometimes feel similar to what I felt in this movie, torn apart between different perspectives, in need to rewind or go backwards, jump ahead…

But, when I’m on the Internet, my freedom is limited only by content on it, and my imagination to combine it. This DVD does not and cannot provide that. It provides only a small portion of what user generated software can create. But that is enough for a start.  I think it should not find itself fighting with traditional and modern cinema discourse, as it is not in the same league. Classic, linear or somewhat less linear work of art has its purpose, the artistic drive to speak (about) something. The dialectic between what the author wanted to say and what did we notice is not the dialectic present in the new media’s Soft Cinema project. The new dialectic is present between two or more authors, and it requires whole new system of investigation and study. It is a system (or nonsystem) whose future we are all creating,right know, on the web, in the limitless sea of content.

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April 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. hvala ti.

    Comment by Rusulica | April 6, 2009


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