Time flies: Visualizing aerial technologies.

Scott Hessels, City University of Hong Kong.

The world’s largest environmental disaster was felt by no one. When the Chinese military recently demonstrated their anti-satellite missiles, deadly debris was scattered across our heavens further than any other manmade event in history. Our increasingly crowded skies are creating safety hazards that are proliferating without public awareness partially due to our inability to visualize and display the massive, transscalar real estate and activity of aerial technologies. Each industry has become adept at tracking its own assets yet none has succeeded in finding a model that represents the entire evolving techno-system in one visual strategy.


Special effects and uncanny affect: CGI and the postcinematic uncanny.

William Card, University Centre Blackburn College.

This article introduces, presents and discusses the author’s practice-based artistic research. It situates the work, an investigation into the post-cinematic uncanny and the affective potential of visual effects technologies in art practice, within a theoretical context and moves towards the illumination of aspects of our relationship with certain types of digitally augmented moving imagery. The practice explores the post-cinematic uncanny as an intersection of visual arts, moving image, animation, cinema, television and visual effects linking it to theories of affect and post-cinema. It questions the nature and qualities of moving image in the twenty-first century, especially the pervasive and ubiquitous nature of computer-generated imagery (CGI) that supplements and augments digitally captured footage. In doing so it creates, explores and situates the post-cinematic uncanny within contemporary arts practice. The work employs technologies that were, until relatively recently, the preserve of high-end visual effects productions and aims to engender uncanny affect in its audience. It thus falls under the purview of Steven Shaviro’s speculations on post-cinematic affect. Shaviro’s ‘post-cinematic’ refers to the transformation of moving image practice and culture driven in part by the move to digital acquisition, manipulation, distribution, display and networked consumption. It provides a conceptual framework for this practice in relation to the wider context of cinema and moving image production. In the practice, visual effects technologies are employed site-specifically to create the impression of unknown yet familiar forms within the screen-space, creating new associations, fantastic implied narratives and extra-dimensional implications in otherwise mundane spaces. Still further removed from the profilmic event, these computer-generated images have no connection to the profilmic beyond an urge towards the ‘paradox of perceptual realism’. In this respect, CGI visual effects imagery may be analogous to Freud’s uncanny ‘double’.


Playing the networked image of the city: Ghosts, glitches, traces.

Troy Innocent, Swinburne University of Technology.

Being in ‘play’ evokes another way of being, an alternate reality, a different set of spatial relations. While play exists in time, it is atemporal, having its own rules of time and space. Play can be pervasive, embedded in day-to-day life, blending and bleeding into reality occupying a multitude of micromoments. Images of play present multiple meanings – diagrams of logic and rules, millisecond game state updates, assemblages of iconic game objects, spatial and cartographical information – and are distributed across screens big and small connected by digital networks. Within the framework of a fictional state – the Micronation of Ludea – these themes were explored via public artworks blending street art, formal abstraction, Augmented Reality (AR) and game design. The works play with the conventions of behaviour and construction of public space via their augmentation with the code and logic of game worlds. These games generate new images of the city from the combined viewpoints of the individual and the collective, micro and macro, monumental and intimate, transient and permanent, and the personal and public.


The moment of unmoving.

Dane Watkins, Falmouth University

Movies never wait they live in perpetual motion, locked in an illusion that merges a succession of static pictures into a new temporal image. If a movie stops because the projector breaks or the tape is stuck then the illusion is lost and the image collapses into its separate parts. Movies move in one direction and cannot respond to anything but themselves; they are governed by their own internal logic and remain unmoved by their external context. As more screens become embedded into our physical spaces there is an opportunity for the movie to take pause and through sensors respond to its environment. Yet schedulers are stuffing the big screens with old content, movies designed for TV and cinemas. Adverts tightly cut into 30-second slots are screened repeatedly into a space where they have all day, they could take their time. This article will discuss examples of how a movie might pause while it waits for something to happen. Animators have used loops to bridge moments of dramatic action. The onlookers in Popeye the Sailor by Fleischer (1933) quiver with anticipation as they prepare for the action to unfold around them. Roobarb and Custard by Godfrey (1974) waits in a shimmering tree, a looping construct that lives in between the edges of its drawings, an approximation of its constituent parts. The animated loop is a fixed temporal object waiting perhaps to cross over into the physical world and interact with the environment and passersby.