Ruby Gloom: The Bright Side of the Dark Side

For those with children, or child-like proclivities, such as myself, I would have to recommend the cartoon Ruby Gloom. I was delightfully surprized by this charming, refreshing Canadian production.

Playing on the tropes of gothic culture and music, while also making frequent literary references, the series encourages its viewers to be creative, face their fears, make the best of a bad situation, and look on the bright side of life (and if the dark side is their bright side, well, that’s ok too).

For More Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Gloom

http://www.rubygloomtv.com/

VNV Nation and the Artificial Life

Quite recently a friend of mine introduced me to VNV Nation, an electronic band from Britain and Ireland. I was quite taken by their songs “Farthest Star”, “Carry You”, and especially “Illusion”, which was accompanied on Youtube by this delightful and melancholy animation. It is very poignant, and telling, how human we want to make our machines, and yet how mechanical we make our human beings in our daily lives.

The surprise, though, is that the video was not made for the song.

For More Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vnv_nation

And for another example of what humans expect from machines: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail??blogid=95&entry_id=55095

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

A Beautiful Animism

For me the beauty and the wonder of the movie Wall-e comes from the way in which it is able to instill the fundamentals of life and fellow-feeling in what seems to the human observer to be an inanimate object. While it is undoubtedly CGI, I had the feeling when first watching it that I was observing puppets in motion.

Puppetry as an art is both ancient, and, like many ancient things, deeply under-appreciated. It, and its sibling claymation, has been steadily fazed out because of improvements in computer graphics that see the material construction of cast/scenes to be an unnecessary and complicated expense.

But there is something to be said of the joy of animism in making the inanimate animate through these forms. That a puppeteer could pick up something seemingly dead and with a few skillful motions give it life and personality seems to me to have a powerful effect upon the imagination.

A greater appreciation of the personality of things would do much to ameliorate the culture of waste and refuse that refuses to adhere to environmental responsibilities. Yet when it comes time for me to throw away some old jacket, or sell some long possessed relic of my childhood, I am often struck with the feeling that I am leaving behind a companion rather than a belonging.

No doubt this view is the height of eccentricity, but such foolishness may well save us in time.

For More Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_play
http://www.mermaidtheatre.ns.ca/ (An excellent puppetry theater currently on tour across America)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Crystal