JW3, 17th January, 2016
Cinema is a vehicle for dreams. From its inception, it experimented with ways to convey dream states, hallucinations and other internal psychical phenomena, but it was the surrealists who became besotted by film’s closeness to the illogic, mood, texture, and even light of dreams; for filmmakers such as Bunuel, Man Ray and Maya Deren, cinema could become the labyrinth of free association, erotic fantasy and neuroses, the inner workings of the unconscious that make up dreams.
• The Kingdom of Paul Nash excerpt (Tom Brown, Kieron Maguire, 2013): 3m00s
• Oneironauts (Olivia Humphreys, 2012): 4m05s
• The House (Erika Pal, 2012): 4m 29s
• Meshes Of The Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943): 13m14s
• Darkness Light Darkness (Jan Svankmajer, 1990) : 6m46s
If cinema can capture our dream states, what about other facets of our minds? In our first film from a documentary made for NSPCC, animation is used to communicate what happens to the growing mind in terms of neurological development and what can happen if the neural networking that constitutes our brains, or minds, is not sufficiently nurtured in our early years. Svankmajer’s clay-motion fairy tale is , conversely, rich in metaphor: a whole body and brain constructs itself from constituent parts, only to meet a fate of existential irony.
• Metropolis excerpt (Fritz Lang, 1927): 9 m00s
• Address is Approximate (Tom Jenkins, 2011): 2m42s
Cinema is a means to escape the self; through subverting the rules of realism it is a portal to Man as fractured, disassociated, alienated being. Other strains of cinema have explored the notion of selfhood through the myth of the Promethean construct: the artificial intelligence exploited or abandoned by its creator, often on a path of vengeful destruction. Tonight we meet Lang’s robotic seductress in one of the most stylish and exciting sequences of cinema history;the growing self-awareness of Google is explored in a light-hearted “street view” holiday romp; but no discussion of AI would be complete without a turn from the cyborg descendent of Mary Shelley’s monster: the prodigal son Roy Batty.