Choicelessness

Hyperbolized Ambiguity

Posted in architecture, books, technology by johnsnavely on April 19, 2008

This is my first post from Seattle! I’m in company housing in Kirkland. It’s pretty posh, in a corporate way, but I’m comfortable and adjusting well.

Today’s treat is a little video from Erika Janunger a student at the Konstfack College of Art and Design in Sweden. It’s a little cheesy, nothing you haven’t seen before in music videos etc. But the video is elegantly done and starts to radiate a few ideas.

Before I left and on the plane over here I finished up a few more sci fi books. Blade #1 The Bronze Axe was pretty fun. That and Black Legion of Callisto, both from the 70’s had the same odd (over compensating) take on masculinity… although the idea of the Omnicompetent Man has been in sci fi for quite a while.

I also read a collection of short stories from Frank Herbert. All written in the late fifties and sixties, presumably while he was writing Dune. They all show an obsession with bureaucracy, politics and economics that when done right is like reading an issue of The Economist from the future; and when done wrong is painfully bad. The first story, which is good, is called “The Master Saboteur” and features a multi-bodied, multi-gendered race. It was written in the late sixties… about the same time that Ursula K. le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness was winning the H&N awards.

What’s so exciting to me in these examples is seeing gender-hyperbole being played out in pulp, while gender ambiguity happens in the “mainstream”. (I use quote because this is sci-fi, still.) I realize that this might be news to me only because of my straight male ignorance, but I think it might be evidence of other cultural polarities which can play out in a single genre.

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3 Responses

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  1. virtualnexus said, on April 19, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed the video. Vaguely reminded me of the oil-filled room in the Saatchi gallery London some years ago.

  2. johnsnavely said, on April 19, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Whoa. I’ve never seen that piece. Were you there? What did it smell like?

  3. virtualnexus said, on April 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Richard Wilson 20.50 was the piece – found a brief mention here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/2957159.stm

    Saw it, but not certain which year – possibly 03.

    Arresting to say the least if you weren’t expecting it – in one of the panelled conference rooms of the Old County Hall. The opening was through a normal doorway at the end of a corridor, so it couldn’t be seen before entry. There was a room sized shallow tray at chest height, boxed in below, with a few inches depth of oil in it, and a narrow walk way cut into the room, inevitably with instructions to keep everything clear of the oil. At first glance it looked as if the room was filled with tons of oil.

    The surreal shock value was the perfect mirror reflection – the inversion of the room details and windows above in black surface. Very little smell, as I remember – maybe treated in some way, or maybe the visual effect was so powerful and unexpected the smell didn’t register!


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