Trapped inside an electronic arena, where love, and escape, do not compute! The next night by Passengerfilms and UCL Urban Lab is on the theme of virtual space, with films and talks ranging from code and gaming to architectural simulation – at 7.30pm on Thursday the 19th April at St John on Bethnal Green (opposite Bethnal Green tube station on the Central Line).
The feature film is the canonical cyber fantasy, ‘Tron’ (1982), with Jeff Bridges as a programming genius and hacker taken captive and held prisoner within the computer main frame itself. As a virtual world and arcade game designer, he meets many of his own programmes in the digital civilization – a world of circuitry, ‘scuzzy code’, arcade game grids, computer-generated superheroes and webs of neon light, all under the control of an abusive corporate digital entity. The film is a visually stunning and original piece of science fiction about software and the nature of belief in invisible realms (with many of the programmes faithfully holding to a belief in external human ‘Users’ in the world outside). It’s had a long-term effect on the film industry, as well as being a crucial landmark in the way we visualise and animate ‘code/space’. See trailer here.
The first short film will be ‘Augmented City 3D’ by Keiichi Matsuda. Matsuda uses video to examine the implications of emerging technologies for human perception and the built environment, focusing on the integration of media into everyday life. He has a multi-disciplinary approach, using a mixture of video, motion graphics, interaction design, and architecture to create vibrant “hyper-real” environments where the distinctions between physical and virtual start to dissolve. The second shorts will be ‘Golden Age The Simulation’ and ‘Golden Age Somewhere’ by the collective Factory Fifteen, surreal spatial simulacrums combining 3D visualisation, engineering, animation and photography. This will be introduced by film-maker and Factory Fifteen director Paul Nicholls.
The geographer Rob Kitchin, Director of the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis and researcher in cartography, philosophy and data, will talk about ‘Tron’ and the ‘spatial contours’ of software and software imaginaries. Rob’s forthcoming book, co-written with Martin Dodge, is about how code can be seen to ‘produce’ space and is called Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life. Sam Kinsley, Research Fellow at the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the University of the West of England, will also talk about how geographers have conceived and written about technicity and code and how it affects the architecture of our lives: see here his ‘Preliminary bibliography for studies of Code/Spaces’.
The imagined spatialities of computer environments and augmented realities are important because, as Kitchin and Dodge argue, these realms continue to configure and reconfigure our everyday social and economic lives. We’ve often – in film as otherwise – imagined these operations taking place in another dimension, or in a transcendental space. As Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) puts it: ‘On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy…’ So fire up your light-cycles and come join us in the electronic realm at 7.30pm! (Bring cash for the bar…)
St John on Bethnal Green, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA. Entry £4.