Amoeblog

The TRON Aesthetic: The Atari Age of German Expressionism

Posted by Charles Reece, October 25, 2008 01:38pm | Post a Comment
The magnificent scenes of heroism, transcendence and man dominating his surroundings should please the most masculinist among us, including Ayn Rand and Leni Riefenstahl:






The close-ups all have that overly melodramatic silent-era quality to them. Note the way Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has Valentino eyes and Sark (David Warner) looks like a Conrad Veidt villain:



The neon destruction is one of the best visual features of TRON, and I particularly love the Art Deco explosion of the light cycle running into the wall:





Here are some be-yoo-tee-ful shots of various control chambers:



These next three shots are probably the result of Moebius's designs, but in terms of color and shading, the first two remind me of Fleischer Studio's Superman cartoon (itself borrowing heavily from German Expressionism):




This next series points to the way TRON takes the acute Expressionistic angles and frequently pushes them towards abstraction. As can be seen in the third shot, those same angles are used in the realworld, as well:




Undoubtedly, the grid is the most recurring motif in the film (just look at the shots above). Despite the sheer daftness of TRON's storyline, the film provides a persistent visual critique of modern existence under technology centering on the grid. The realworld doesn't look all that different from the simulated one, just in duller, Modernist colors. If anything, the oppression of the office cubicles is far more of a labyrinthine mindfuck than the prison in TRON (Bruce Boxleitner)'s world. This use of office space here is every bit the equal to that in Billy Wilder's The Apartment and Jacques Tati's Playtime:



Little wonder that so many prefer escaping reality into videogame simulacra. Where would you rather be, with Lora (Cindy Morgan) in her lab, or with her cyberpunk avatar, Yori?



Thus, when Flynn gets reconstructed by the Master Control Program (MCP; Warner again) into the world of cyber-spectacle, the film visually suggests there's little ontological difference between the two states, online versus offline -- on or off the grid. Life itself has become a simulation:





Despite the standardized happy ending where modern life has been saved from the evil MCP, the time-lapse photography of the city at daytime turning into night before the credits roll suggests something else, namely that we're never too far away from the oppressive regime of the MCP. Note how similar the night-time city is to the mindscape travel sequence of the title sequence:





[Click on images to enlarge.]

Guitar Hero World Tour & video game timeline

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 21, 2008 06:48pm | Post a Comment
Guitar Games



The first installment in the Guitar Hero series was released in 2005. The developers at Harmonix were obviously inspired by 1998’s Konami’s GuitarFreaks, in which players also use a guitar-shaped controller with colored fret buttons on the neck and a pick lever to score points playing along to rock music. That game never took off on the level of Guitar Hero though, partly because GuitarFreaks required players to shred along to the likes of Mutsuhiko Izumi, 桜井 敏郎,  小野秀幸, 前田尚紀 and Jimmy Weckl (né ジミー・ウェックル), who composed songs especially for the game. Guitar Hero's innovation was including 47 AOR songs by the likes of the Ramones, Deep Purple, umlaut-abusers Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead -- songs that, whatever you think of them, are seared into your brain if you've ever drank a Mountain Dew, rode in a Z-28, watched a television commercial or shopped at Amoeba. That means even if you've heard "More Than a Feeling" 603,501 times more than you ever wanted, you'll have no problem playing along.



In 2006, RedOctane (the manufacturers of the guitar controllers) was purchased by Activision and Harmonix was bought by MTV. In 2007 Harmonix released, through Electronic Arts, Rock Band -- basically an expanded version of Guitar Hero which added other instruments, another innovation inspired by Konami’s games of the previous decade which followed up GuitarFreaks with DrumFreaks and KeyboardFreaks.

Continue reading...

Ceres - Dwarf Planet

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 19, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment
Dwarf planets are objects with sufficient mass to assume a roughly spherical shape but yet too small to get picked for the starting lineup in the solar tee-ball match. There are currently four planets designated as dwarf planets. Before 2006 they were also known as minor planets, planetoids and (my favorite) subplanets.

 

Although there are currently only four designated dwarf planets, there are at least 41 known objects which may qualify when we get around to it. And when the Kuiper belt is fully-explored, there may turn out to be another 200. Beyond that there may be another 2000 subplanets in our solar system.

 

Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of cereals (as in grasses cultivated for their edible parts and not as in the milky bowls of breakfast candy eaten by toddlers and people living in dorms), abundance, and motherly love. She was both the sister and wife of Jupiter. Her worship was adopted by the Romans in 496 BCE, during a particularly severe famine. Her followers were mostly plebes who controlled the grain game in antiquity. For some reason, their rites included tying burning sticks to fox's tails.

The original name for the planetoid was Ceres Ferdinandea but that got shot down as not everyone was so keen on brown-nosing Spanish royalty. The dwarf planet is the smallest of the currently designated subplanets. It was actually discovered way back in 1801 by Giuseppie Piazzi who wrote, "since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet." Even further back, Johann Elert Bode, in 1768, had suggested that there may be a planet between Mars and Earth. And lo, Ceres is situated within the asteroid belt.

Ceres is actually the largest  object in the asteroid belt -- making up a third of the belt's mass. Its surface is made up of water ice (more than the total amount of water found on Earth), carbonate and clay. The weather on Ceres isn't that bad, reaching -38 degrees Celsius, which is slightly warmer than some Midwestern winters I've experienced.


*****

CERES IN FILM




In the American Astronaut there's a bar on Ceres called the Ceres Crossroads where a dance contest takes place.


CERES IN TELEVISON


In Exosquad, Ceres is posited as the location of the first Neo Mega breeding location.

In the Twilight Zone episode "The Lonely," Ceres is a prison colony.



CERES IN GAMES


In Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, there is an abandoned RAM research base situated on the dwarf planet.

 

In Descent and Descent3, there are missions which take place on Ceres.


In Star Control II, Ceres station is destroyed by the Ur-Quan before humans are enslaved.


In Super Metroid, the first playable area takes place on Ceres.


In Terminal Velocity, a machine must be destroyed that will otherwise cause Ceres to collide with Earth.


In Zone of the Enders, a colony exists on Ceres.

*****

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Titan in Fact and Fiction

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 3, 2008 11:58pm | Post a Comment


TITAN


Titan was discovered in 1655 by Dutchman Christiaan Huygens. It orbits Saturn. Huygens named it Luna Saturni. When more moons were discovered, it was re-named Saturn II, then IV, then VI, which stuck as the official title, even though there are at least 19 moons in closer orbit of Saturn. It's also been referred to as "Saturn's ordinary satellite," but Titan is anything but ordinary.

 


Titan is the only body in the solar system, aside from Earth, with stable liquid bodies at its surface* and a dense atmosphere. Its landscape is relatively smooth, although there are mountains. As on Earth, the air is primarily composed of Nitrogen. Methane and Ethane clouds produce rain, wind and weather that give it seasons. It also has subsurface oceans*.

Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology


 

The name Titan was chosen by John Herschel in 1847. The Titans, according to the Greek Religion and its adherents, were the former rulers of Greece during the Golden Age. The leader, Kronos, feared that his offspring would attempt to overthrow him, just as he had his father. To prevent this, he ate his children, except Zeus, who was saved and ultimately did overthrow the Titans and banish them to Tartarus.

Huygens's landing site on Titan

With such a mysterious, aesthetically Earth-like world hidden by a hazy atmosphere, Titan has attracted its fair share of speculation about its possible nature. Many films, television series and video games have been set there and are available at Amoeba for your own investigations...

 

Doctor Who - "The Invisible Enemy"



Transformers G1 - "The God Gambit"



Space Patrol (UK) - "The Glowing Eggs of Titan"


Creature (The Titan Find)



The Puppet Masters



Star Trek: The Next Generation
- "Chain of Command"



Gattaca



Starhunter


Star Trek
(2009)



Eureka
(season 3 and 4 opening)



Oblivion


TITAN IN VIDEO AND COMPUTER GAMES


  

   


TITAN IN SONG


  
*maybe

*****

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Ganymede

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 10, 2008 01:23pm | Post a Comment
Ganymede

Ganymede is the largest satellite in our solar system and probably more interesting than the planet Mercury. It orbits the largest planet in the system, Jupiter. Imagine taking a gander into the sky and seeing that red storm swirling above you like the eye of Sauron! Luckily for citizens of Ganymede, you can't get shrooms there, because that would pretty much guarantee a scary time.



Jupiter (left) and Ganymede (right) (case'n you didn't know)

200km below Ganymede's icy surface, a salty subsurface ocean exists*. It is the only moon in the solar system to possess a magnetosphere. Its atmosphere is primarily composed of oxygen in various states.

 
           
The handsomest man alive since the handsomest man expired               The handsomest moon

It was named after the Gods' cupbearer in the Greek religion. The position of divine cupbearer had previously been filled by the goddess of youth, Hebe, who was replaced following the abduction and installation of Ganymede at Zeus' insistence. 



Where it all went down- in what's now Turkey

Ganymede was a Trojan prince and the most handsome guy alive in his day. One day he was tending sheep whilst vacationing in Phyrgia. There he caught Zeus' pederastic eye and the god sent a giant eagle to abduct the guy and bring him to Olympus. In Olympia, he was well-liked except, perhaps not surprisingly, by Zeus' wife Hera. His greatest contribution to we mortals was inventing mead, the delicious alcoholic honey brew which made Grendel go cuckoo for cocoa puffs in distant
Götaland.

       
The abduction of Ganymede             Getting high off of his own supply         "If you want me to play tambourine, just ask"

Plato later theorized that the story of Ganymede was invented. He figured it was created by Cretans to explain their curiously widespread love for young lads among their Minoan elders.

Ganymede wasn't the only name considered when naming the Jovian moon. It beat out "The Jupiter of Jupiter" as well as the possibility of being named after one of the members of the Medici family in an historical instance of corporate sponsorship.


Members of the Medici family. Don't you just want to slap them?

For all of its mystery and wonder, few filmmakers have utilized Ganymede as a setting, whilst video games, television episodes and animes rather more often have. In fact, one of the only films having anything to do with Ganymede is Operation Ganymed, a made-for-tv movie from Germany which aired in the '70s.

   

In the animes Space Battleship Yamato (Uchū Senkan Yamato) and Geneshaft (jīn shafuto) some of the action takes place on Ganymede. In Cowboy Bebop (Kaubōi Bibappu), Ganymede is fully aquaformed and is the home of 7 million humans (who live in floating colonies) in addition to new lifeforms unique to the world.



Eht's Grrrrane!

On Babylon 5, there is an ice mining operation is situated there. In the Star Trek episode "By Any Other Name," Scotty gets faded on some green drank he's picked up on the moon. "Ganymede" is the first word uttered in the series Red Dwarf.


                                        One Must Fall 2097                                                                       Carnage Heart


                             Target Earth                                                                                 Shadowgrounds

In the PC game One Must Fall: 2097, combatants fight for the right to develop Ganymede. It's also featured in the PC Game FOM, the Sega Genesis game Target Earth the Playstation game Carnage Heart, and the PC game Shadowgrounds.

*maybe


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