I have just finished working on a short film which is being entered for the Sheffield Doc/Fest.
What an interesting project to have been involved in. Initially I was only the script writer but as a team of free lancers picked up various opportunities for paid work, I found myself acting, then editing and even learning how to animate for special effects. The out come is a home made and fairly amateur film but all the better for it.
Thanks to Kavita Kapoor (the film’s producer) who saw my festival show last summer (Hope for Robots) and saw the potential for its premise to be explored in short film form. Essentially the premise for the production was the quote from Ivan Illich which opens the film. We wanted to explore the activeness or indeed passivity of people in their interface with the ‘tools’ of today. I soon found that I was more interested in the ideas around imagination than around the concept of technology’s limitations. We may have started out thinking about the technical limitations of our tools and why they can’t live up to our imaginations (a point of frustration still very apparent in the final production) but a second layer emerged which is of ever increasing interest to me – why have our imaginations become limited by technical pragmatism? Why have boundaries based on what is plausible been imposed on relational and collective imagination? How do we get out of the box? As thinkers like Ken Robinson and David Gauntlett point out, we will need whole new levels of imagination and creativity to tackle the unknown and probably troubled future which we have devised for ourselves and any ways forward are likely to come from collective and collaborative free thinking which is not hemmed in by the limitations of what we have currently got. We need to find ways of seeing beyond the reach of the light we currently have.
As the project developed I began to enjoy the script more by thinking of the ‘pixels’ as metaphors for all of us. ‘All of us’ being elements of a larger picture, each forming our colour, making our contribution to a larger image; each of us unaware of how essential our ‘lighting up’ was to the big image visible from Space. As the metaphor extends, I wonder what the boundaries are that limit us pixel people, that keep us contained, that allow us to do our shining but only within set and managed perameters? I wonder if factory models of education and hierarchically structured religions and Empire shaped politics are the frames which keep our collective imagination within status quo boundaries. I wonder if Ken Robinson and Ivan Illich are onto something as they seem to suggest disestablishing schooling as we know it, I wonder if the recent ‘deconstruction movement’ in many churches was modelling something important.
It could be that our complex future can be tackled better if we remove (or at least break some holes in the boundaries that have contained and managed us pixels). And as the film asks, would we be merely silver dust if such structures or controls were lifted? Would we collapse into a heap? Or I wonder if, given time, pixels and people might develop properties or skills so that they can function with no such screen, no frames. People who function through choice rather than obligation. Could some sort of chemistry or magnetism mean that pixels want to collaborate? Is it in their very ontology, their DNA to want to link, to refer to one another and to match light and colour and if allowed to do so unrestrained – what sort of pictures might we then paint?