Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Peter Chung. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peter Chung. Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reservoir Gods

Image Source: Armenian History.

I was thinking about my posts on the collapse of heroism in Postmodern and post-Postmodern fiction and cinema, especially the Revolving Door of Death, in which heroes in pop culture over the past 25 odd years have been killed off for thrills and then brought back to life. Peter Chung explored that cat-came-back trope with his animated character, Aeon Flux, around 1991. Chung used that trope to comment on its moral nihilism.

Each age in the Great Year brings new standards of heroism as the Precession turns.

In the Age of Aries, classical heroes were not immortal. Whether they were warriors or prophets, their deaths in myths and religious legends were a huge breaking point in the heroic story.

In the Age of Pisces, the classical hero became a religious saviour through sacrifice, transcendence and immortality. He could come back from the dead, which made the human hero must become divine.

In the Age of Aquarius, heroes can come back from the dead; they are immortals, like vampires or zombies, but they still bear the daily drudgery, weaknesses and flaws of real human life. Humans don't become gods, gods become humans.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Evolution of Corporate Persons

"Placards and posters attached to crowd barriers outside the Ecuadorian embassy [in London] voicing support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange." Image by Pete Riches (16/08/12); Image © Demotix; Image Source: Global Voices Advocacy.

One startling feature in Kim Stanley Robinson's sci-fi predictions for the future, which rang true in a most unsettling fashion, was the size of corporations in his Mars Trilogy. He imagined them as becoming more powerful than nation-states.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thanatophobia and Chronophasia

Trevor Goodchild, chairman, scientist, dictator, military leader, romantic antagonist, paternal idealist ...

Life, morality, free will - and mortality.  Peter Chung's 90s' MTV series, Aeon Flux, was a study in these and other themes that have become important in the new Millennium. Terrorism, burgeoning political control behind benevolent slogans, video surveillance, media manipulation, mass politics, instrumental patriotism, moral values crushed and infinitely rebranded, integrated tech-organics, epidemics and genetic manipulation.  Chung projected this whole mess of ideas onto subversive sexual themes and one grand romance between an anarchic heroine, Aeon Flux, and her silver-tongued nemesis, Trevor Goodchild.  These characters originate in two countries, permissive Monica and repressed-yet-decadent Bregna, separated by an armed wall.  Chung claimed people often assumed that he was referring to East and West Berlin.  In fact, his inspiration was North and South Korea. Chung plainly gave Aeon the role of protagonist, but he never quite pinned down which side was right.  The two contending sides in this great Millennial argument - whether expressed morally, sexually, mentally or spiritually - could be embodied in two ideas of time that were used as titles of two Aeon episodes: fear of death (Thanatophobia) and time confusion (Chronophasia).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 3: Destino

Still from Destino. Image Source: Wiki.

Many thanks to my friend S. for bringing my attention to the short film Destino, made through an unusual 1946 collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish painter Salvador Dalí.  It is a surreal depiction of the blossoming of true romance. I was surprised at how similar some of the imagery looked to Peter Chung's Æon Flux. After decades of complicated production issues, the film was finally made available for home viewing on Blu-ray on November 30, 2010.  See the film here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sci-Fi Wishlist: Riddick Sequel in the Works

Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick in The Chronicles of Riddick. Image: Universal (2004).

Earlier this year, news circulated that Gen X actor Vin Diesel and director David Twohy were at it again, and another Riddick film is in the works.  This would be a sequel to Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and Peter Chung's animated Chronicles sequel, Dark Fury.  There are also a couple of video games that flesh out Riddick's lurid past in interstellar maximum-security prisons.  Variety reported in February of this year that Diesel had signed up to do another sequel. Then in April, Corona Coming Attractions ran an exclusive run-down of a new script originally entitled Dead Man Stalking.  For now, the title has been changed simply to Riddick.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SciFi Wishlist: More Peter Chung Please

Rally's Chicken Burgers Advertisement (2000). © Peter Chung/Acme Filmworks/Rally's.

Obviously, with an Aeon Flux avatar, you'll know I'm a big Peter Chung fan.  His work on Aeon Flux, about two futuristic societies divided by an armed wall, was often mistakenly taken as an analogy for East and West Berlin.  In fact, Chung was referring to the division between North Korea and his native South Korea.  He blended the Asian-anime style he brought to MTV in the early 1990s with retro-turn-of-the-century-references to Austrian artist Egon Schiele.  The result was a startling blend of European, Asian and American animation that was twenty years ahead of its time.  Now, almost two decades later, we've arrived, and Chung's work is still fresh.  The less said about the flim adaptation from 2005, the better.

So I was happy to stumble across three radical adverts by the great animator on Tom Green's blog here, at vimeo.com here, and at awn.com here.  Chung directed them for Checkers Rally's Burgers.  They date from 2000.  Who knew that Austrian fin-de-siècle art styles could merge so beautifully with Mad Max road rage and American burger consumption?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflections on the Revolving Door of Death 2: The Death of the Postmodern Hero

Death of the Flash, COIE #8 (Nov. 1985)

In pulp fiction, character-driven stories, so beloved from the 1970s to the mid-1980s, are now a thing of the past. For many years, but especially since about 2003, DC's comics universe has been awash in death, legacy characters doing the rounds in their fourth versions, dying, and coming back in fifth versions (see my blog entry on this here). DC’s two big events in 2009-2010, Blackest Night and Brightest Day, epitomize the morbid fascination with death and resurrection. Yet the leading lights of the company proclaim that these events in fact will halt the tide of death and reinvest it with meaning, a message that was carried out of Blackest Night. In BN issue #8, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) announces that ‘dead is dead from here on out.’

While we wait for Brightest Day to deliver on writer Geoff Johns’s promise to give death meaning again, it’s obvious that DC and its competitor Marvel have a problem on their hands. During the Modern Age of Comics, which has run from the mid-1980s to the present, the mainstream comics companies painted themselves into a corner when they created the so-called ‘revolving door of death.’ Now, characters die so often in the name of ‘grim drama,’ that readers and critics cynically, or wearily, do body counts at the end of every crossover event. Why has DC killed off more than 650 (at latest fan count here at Legion World) of its characters since 2003? In all this overkill, the 2010 death of the young character Lian Harper aroused outrage at the company for gratuitously manipulating its readers, by taking excess to a new low. There is a deviantART site devoted to the topic here.  Yet DC mistakenly took this emotional response to mean that its creative team had created a dramatic story that moved its readers, rather than comprehending that their audience was expressing annoyance and genuine death trope exhaustion. Why is DC so tone deaf when it comes to hearing what fans are saying? A flood of gore cannot be used to revive the seriousness of already-overused death memes that once were sacrosanct.
X-Men #136 (Aug. 1980)

There’s more to this than a vicious circle of commercialism. Let’s go back. The death of a hero in any medium, let alone in comics, was once the height of drama. It grew out of older roots in epics, fairy tales, literature and religious sources. It was a narrative line that was almost never crossed. It carried weight. And because it was a powerful dramatic tool, it was invariably a commercially successful plot device. Practically every comics fan recognizes the famous X-men cover of Cyclops holding a half-dead Jean Grey. The cover foreshadowed her death in the next issue, when she sacrificed herself to save the universe in the Dark Phoenix Saga. According to Marvel wikia, issue #137 from September 1980 was “the first time that a major Marvel Comics super-hero [wa]s killed off on-panel.” Jean Grey’s death might be considered a harbinger of the Modern Age.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fountain of Youth 1: Why is Noir the Style of the Future and Immortality?

Blade Runner (1982).

Why are there so many films about the future that depend upon a resuscitation of film noir style? Neo-noir has been a revived favourite standard for thrillers from the 1980s to the 2000s, but why is science fiction a flourishing noir sub-genre? Is it just the huge impact of cyberpunk, related to the Tech Revolution? Perhaps science fiction from the 1950s to 1970s, like Philip K. Dick’s neo-gnostic and post-apocalyptic works fed readily into neo-noir styled films based on his work, like 1982’s Blade Runner? Or is there something about noir style specifically that speaks to how we think of the future and Blade Runner's concepts of mortality and conflicted humanity?