Here’s a fairly random clip it’s high time I posted.
It’s something I filmed years ago on 8mm. The long story is that I was writing “Rivercity” at the time, which puts it mid to late nineties – and I wanted to grab as much visual reference and inspiration as possible; ways to describe colours, textures, movement etc – that communicated the atmosphere of the Old Town as evocatively as possible.
I had a certain aesthetic in mind and along with Polaroids, standard snaps and scribbles, I took a load of 8mm footage as well – I just love something about the fuzziness, the saturation of colours, the depth of contrast and the strange sense of movement. The plan was to use all this material to look at and to help get my head around how to articulate Hull’s very particular ‘down but beautiful’ vibe from the time.
So here’s some of the bits I rather liked in conveying the ambience of the place – I filmed some of the ripple shots upside down as I thought they’d look just a tiny bit odd (as if there’s something wrong but you can’t quote figure out what). And now I’ve ifnally cobbled it together into a clip, I avoided any kind of special edits whatsoever, left it completely linear, and added “Sketchpad With Trumpet And Voice” from Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to the Alan Parker film “Birdy” over the top (for no better reason than it’s fab).
I went to see Avatar yesterday – basically seen posters around and the odd trailer online and thought it best to catch it in 3D on a big screen – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
If there were any misgivings they’d be about the lack of subtlety in the environmentalist and political / foreign policy / war on terror messages in the film; although it’s worth noting that given the mess we’re all in with the planet in general and also fucking people over for the resources they happen to live on top of, the time for subtlety might be gone anyway.
It was nice however that the film didn’t go totally overboard on 3D by insisting on pointing everything at you; a couple of guns and bows and arrows was enough. As with films like Jurassic Park, some of the most impressive visuals were not about action but about detail. Jurassic Park had a lovely longshot of herds of dinosaurs grazing on an open plain, which at the time looked breathtaking, Avatar has tremendous shots of slightly defocussed insects floating in and out of shafts of light, or brief glimpses up through fern leafs into the forest canopy and the sunlight. Every bit as amazing as the full-on action.
Perhaps the most surprising thing for me, though, was how familiar the aesthetics were. Despite the contemporary politics and the bang up to date 3D delivery, the film actually took me back years and years. To the album covers of prog-rockers Yes, and the visionary artwork of Roger Dean (who also did their classic logo design).
It wasn’t only in the most obvious things like the floating mountains – a theme that Dean visited and experimented with on a number of occasions – but also things like the luminosity of Pandora’s forest landscape at night, the multicoloured dragons, and the arcs of stone surrounding the sacred tree (see the image attached for examples of Roger Dean’s originals; click for a larger view).
It could be said of course that Cameron has visited the territory of stuff like weird luminescence before in The Abyss – but there was a particular overall aesthetic approach to the whole ecosystem that had very very strong echoes of Dean’s artworks and worlds.
I have no idea if he was in any way a conscious influence or not, but it’s nice to be nodded into memories of another time and of such inspired pop art.
EDIT: Just found this website which tends to ask the same question, but is also worth a visit purely as a great selection of images of Roger Dean’s work.
And it’s not just James Cameron… Did anyone else think that the Ood’s homeworld in the Christmas episode of Doctor Who looked strikingly like the cover of “Relayer”?
In short, my name's Gareth and I'm the Director of VROOM MEDIA Ltd. I'm a designer, writer, musician and MotoGP nut. I'm a shameless fanboy for Alvaro Bautista & Apple. I go moist over Spanish band El Canto Del Loco, and I'm a total Mac geek. This blog is an ongoing journal of random notes, thoughts and bits of stuff...
My 'formerly industrial' band with my mate Rob.
We grew out of wanting to be another NIN some time back and have developed into a far more interesting, singular, challenging and fun.
With Rob's emigration to the USA, our way of working and creating was fundamentally altered, but we continued to push the boundaries of possible musics as we always have.
Rob's return holds promise to pick things up some more - to develop more ideas, sketchpads, rhythms and approaches to keep us on the cutting edge - and maybe a refreshed approach which might even see us revisit and complete our unfinished masterpiece "BACKLASH".
Fifteen minutes into the future, a hot, dry summer in Hull: Coates, a researcher and investigator, is hired to trace the whereabouts of missing adolescent Dominic Russell.
Is he the latest in a number of gruesome blood-letting murders attributed to the city’s “Marginals” that exist somewhere in the underbelly of the population?
That’s what the Police say, but it’s not what the boy’s mother believes - and as Coates digs deeper into that underbelly he discovers that Dominic’s disappearance is just a tiny part of a much bigger story: one that will bring his world crashing down and endanger all those around him...
Rivercity is a book that can be read at many levels, weaving a main plot - a clear homage to the “noir” detective genre - with a vampire story and a myriad of strands about perception and reality, human nature, signs, superstitions, the histroy of Hull, aesthetics, the occult and political expediency. Above all it's a novel about philosophy and the nature of truth and knowledge in the electronic age.