Archive for humanity

Thousand Names

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by javedbabar

Guru Baba had said, “This is a very special gathering so please remember the thousand names.”

Sami had spent an hour a day memorizing the names. After a week, he knew them all in order.

It wasn’t as hard as he’d imagined. With a combination of the favourite place/person method – where you imagine persons embodying specific qualities, sitting in spots around your house – acronyms, and rhyming, he was set.

He imagined Marilyn Monroe soaping herself in his shower, Groucho Marx pacing about in his garden shed, Boris Karloff lumbering around his cellar, and Barack Obama mowing his lawn, making the names fun to remember. These attributes of the Divine Creator were now unforgettable. The official list began with:

The Great – The Not So Great – The Funny (Groucho) – The Pretty – The Clever – The Cultured – The Spiritual…

The Great Gathering in Lucerne’s Transparent Temple was progressing well. There had been an issue with external crowd management, then a problem with internal crowd control, but both were resolved. There was a steady flow of people performing darshan – holy viewing – whilst the holy names were chanted continuously by a group on stage, accompanied by banjo, bongos and harmonium.

“There is no point in being too serious,” Guru Baba had said. “People should enjoy singing holy things.”

People who hadn’t memorized the names tapped their feet if they were Westerners, and nodded their heads if they were Easterners. They eventually picked up the names; by the fourth round they could anticipate the next one. Sami was right to not project them on screen, which would have changed the aural dynamic to visual, diluting the names’ holy vibrations. The chanting grew louder:

The Brave – The Scared – The Powerful (Obama) – The Powerless – The Beaten…

Sami saw people he knew – Sophie, Shama, Bobby, Dimpy and others – looking different somehow. Their faces were brighter. Their voices were lighter. Their postures were straighter. Their heads held higher.

Were they absorbing the names?

Joining with the names?

Becoming the names?

Sami had a flashback to the film HUMANITY; he had acted as local project manager for its global launch. It was filled with eye-popping visuals transporting you to ethereal realms, but being at this gathering was the real thing – the cameras, lights and action!

`           The Friendly – The Open – The Loving – The Nervous – The Monster (Boris) – The Murdered – The Killer…

An agitated marshall approached him and said, “All these names. Some of them are pretty fearsome. Do we need to be careful with them?”

“Sorry, I can’t hear you,” said Sami. “Can you repeat?”

“Do we need to be careful with these names? They could be dangerous.”

“Let’s go backstage. It will be easier to talk there.”

As soon as they were behind the curtain, Sami grabbed the marshall around the neck and wrestled him to the ground, shouting, “What’s your name? What’s your name? Tell me!”

The marshall struggled and grunted. He tried to break free but failed. He gave up and said, “Astra.”

Sami shouted, “Astra, be gone from here, and never come back!”

The marshall fainted, and a wisp of smoke blew from his nose.

Demons sometimes inhabited humans, filling them with negative energies. You had to be tough with demons. They were always trying to diminish God’s names and never wanted to reveal their own names, because once they were known to you, you could command them to be gone.

The Beautiful (Marilyn) – The Regal – The Legal – The Buyer – The Seller – The Three – The Two – The One.

Celebrity Cult

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by javedbabar

It was the global launch of the film HUMANITY. Rather than New York, London or Mumbai, auteur Manish had decided to have it in Lucerne, where the idea had been sent to him while mountain climbing.

The village was packed with people wanting accommodation. Lucerne was an easy day trip from the New City, but the 3 hour film started at nine p.m. and people didn’t want to drive home at midnight. Being realistic, with all the cops, diversions, and remote parking lots, they wouldn’t leave till one a.m. and would reach home after three.

“How about we rent one of your rooms?” a young father said to Bobby.

“I am sorry sir, we can’t do that.”

“Why not? This is a free country. We can do what we like.”

This was the tenth conversation like this he’d had today. To cut it short, Bobby decided to be brutally honest. “Sir, this is a halfway house. We are all losers in life here. Some are drunks, some are drug addicts, some work as prostitutes, and some are prone to bouts of psychotic violence. We would love to have a nice family of professionals stay here, but can’t guarantee their safety. That’s why we always refuse. Still, if you’re feeling brave we could…”

“Erm, okay, I see. Maybe we’ll drive home after the movie.” The man stood there, stunned.

“Do you actually have tickets?” said Bobby. “I heard there were only two hundred available, and most were going to VIPs. There seem to be thousands of people in town. What are they all doing?”

“If we are lucky, we’ll catch the film. There are fifty walk-in tickets available. But we’re mainly here to see the celebrities. My wife and kids really wanted to come. You don’t often get so many famous people together in one small place.” He reeled off a list of names, none of which Bobby recognized.

When he reported for work that night, the situation changed. Many of those names were guests at the Lucerne Valley Hotel, which was packed with VIPs. It seemed that Bobby was the only one who hadn’t heard the names before. Crowds outside were silent for spells, and screamed uncontrollably when beautiful folk entered or left the hotel.

Bobby learnt from other Executive Floor workers that these people were sports heroes, film and rock stars, billionaires, prominent chefs, famous explorers, those known only for their extravagant lifestyles, and cult figures from Arcadia, such as the midget-sized hugging saint, naked tightrope walker, and acid-disfigured belly-dancer. These local figures tried harder to please the crowds, but the international elite received bigger cheers.

Some of the celebrities looked familiar. Bobby recognized them from magazine covers at the grocery store, waxworks he’d once seen in Florida, and from DVD covers. Stuff forgotten during his drug haze years seemed to be returning.

He met many of these celebrities in person on the Executive Floor. Most were warm and gracious, and gave good tips. He could see why they were successful. They were good with people.

When he returned home at 6 a.m. he was ready to drop, but his housemates wanted to hear all about the celebrities. He told them a few stories which made them laugh. One of the girls squealed in delight and said, “Come on Bobby, tell us more!”

He said O.K. and told more stories. He enjoyed being surrounded by adoring people.

SFX Monsters

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by javedbabar

Before managing the Transfer Station’s 3D Unit, Sami had acted as Guru Baba’s assistant. During this period he had also taken freelance jobs, such as local project manager for the global launch of the film HUMANITY, by auteur Manish. Nobody knew if Manish was his first name or last name; being so artsy he only required a single moniker.

The film could have been launched in London, New York, Paris or Mumbai, but the idea had come to Manish whilst climbing mountains in the Lucerne Valley, and he wanted to “return the idea home”.

The film received huge media attention, and being part of the launch crew got Sami noticed. He received requests to help out with films around the world, but many of the producers seemed hokey. They didn’t know anything at all about Sami, they just wanted him involved. After harassment on social media he had gone underground, but people still tracked him down.

His cell phone rang. “Hello, Sami? Oh good! I called you a few times yesterday but couldn’t get through. Where are you these days? Out in the bush?” It was Manish’s assistant, Sarah.

“Hello, Sarah, I’m at Lucerne Industrial Park. Cell reception is terrible here. Sorry about that. What can I do for you?”

“Manish is in Lucerne for three days. His visit was spur of the moment. He dreamt about the end of the world, but he said it could also be its beginning, and he wants to film his vision right now. He wants a mix of audio, video, photography and virtual reality. We can do the optical effects on set, and CGI after, but we need props for mechanical effects. Manish wants you to make monsters.”

“Make monsters? What kind?”

“He says it doesn’t matter,” Sarah attempted a Manish accent, a hybrid Hindi-American. “I can work with anything, okay?”

Sami attempted the accent too. “I am not saying that I am genius, but I have the genius gene.”

Sarah burst out laughing. “He said you decide – make them prehistoric or futuristic; he will use them either way.”

“Okay, when do you need them? I’ve got a busy day today. I could probably fit them in tonight.”

“Definitely?”

“Yes, definitely. I’ll have them done by twelve. Can you send me reference materials? Ideally in CAD, but I can work with photos and models too, and give them a Sami Style makeover.”

“Thanks, Sami, can I come over at… oh, hang on, it’s Manish on the other line. Why doesn’t he just come over? He is literally 10 metres away. Can I call you back?”

“Sure.” Sami put down the phone and then became nervous. This work takes careful planning and choreography. What had he been talked into – making monsters today for use tomorrow!

An hour later, he still hadn’t heard back from Sarah. He’d better start thinking. What was the nastiest monster he could think of?

He wrote down a list of scary things.

Huge. Uncontrollable. Unstoppable. Bloodthirsty. Destructive.

He could add the worst human qualities to give it personality.

Violent. Extreme. Paedophile. Murderer. Deranged.

We don’t want to overhype. Maybe tone them down a bit.

Trivial. Superficial. Anarchist. Lying. Cheating. Controlling.

He realized he didn’t have to invent anything. He just logged into his social media account for further inspiration. Everything he needed was there.

Ticket Lottery

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2012 by javedbabar

Two hundred tickets were available for the global launch of the film HUMANITY, and there had been a huge buzz when they were allocated online. The event was being held in the village of Lucerne, where the director had received his inspiration for the film, rather than in London, Mumbai or New York. His strange choice of location made the tickets doubly desirable, and the international jet set had clamoured for them.

Something didn’t feel right though. Sami, the local project manager, asked a member of the production crew, “Why are all those people queuing?”

“They’re the walk-ins, hoping to pick up tickets at the door.”

Sami was surprised. “But I thought all tickets had been allocated already. Where have the extras come from?”

The crew member said, “Between you are me, they are waiting for nothing. There aren’t any extra tickets.”

“Well, why don’t we tell them? They shouldn’t waste their time.”

“Look, the director said that all tickets should be allocated anonymously. There should be payment by donation, with people giving what they could afford or wanted to. But the producer rigged the allocation process. He priced up one hundred and fifty tickets for VIPs, sold twenty-five to restaurants serving special menus tonight, and fixed the lottery for the remaining twenty-five tickets. They’re all gone.”

Sami knew there would be some VIPs – he had been told up to fifty – but this was a disgrace. There was a huge queue of hopefuls, maybe 200 people, wanting to get in.

He spotted a familiar figure near the back of the line, with long black beard, brown skin and orange robe. It was his boss, Guru Baba! But wasn’t he away on pilgrimage for a month, which was the reason Sami was able to take this freelance position. Why was he back?

Sami walked over immediately and pressed his palms together.

“Yes, yes,” said the sage, returning the greeting. “I heard about the screening. I wanted to see it too so I decided to come back.”

“What about your ascent of Mt Kalash? Did you abandon it?”

“I was never going to climb it anyway. Too cold up there. Brrrr!” His shivering agitated his robe, making him seem like a dancing hairy fruit. “Now when will you let us in?”

“Guru Baba, why didn’t you get a VIP ticket? You only had to ask.” He was one of the world’s leading holy men, and though retired, still very well connected and popular.

“No, no. Why shouldn’t I wait like everybody else? Aren’t we all equal? This film is called HUMANITY.”

Sami didn’t know whether to tell him about the ticket situation in public; it may anger other people waiting. “Guru Baba, please come here, I need to tell you something.”

“No way! I am not losing my place in the line.”

“Guru Baba, you need to know something about the tickets…” Sami tailed off.

“Well, don’t be shy. You can tell us. We are all brothers and sisters here.”

“Okay then, there are no extra tickets. They have all been allocated to VIPs and the producer’s friends. You are waiting for nothing. You may as well go home.”

The crowd began grumbling, but Guru Baba stayed quiet. Then he said, “I have an idea.”

Sami told the VIPs, sipping champagne while awaiting the screening, that Guru Baba was offering a live audience tonight at the Transparent Temple, which they could attend in exchange for their film ticket.

Who wouldn’t want an audience with Guru Baba? Imagine the photos, blessings, mantras, and bragging rights acquired. They would witness his miraculous quality of multilocation, of being with many people at once, yet focussing on each one individually.

A handful of VIPs stood up immediately, and then the rest, not wanting to be left out of this once in a lifetime – maybe once in many lifetimes – opportunity, left their seats and walked to the Transparent Temple.

When the VIPs had gone, the 200 walk-ins walked in and enjoyed the film. Due to his quality of multilocation, Guru Baba enjoyed it too.

Bright Brown Eyes

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2012 by javedbabar

There was half an hour to go till the global launch of the film HUMANITY. Its celebrated auteur had eschewed London, Mumbai and New York in favour of Lucerne, where the idea for the film had first come to him while mountain climbing.

Local project manager Sami had been asked to run through everything with the General Manager prior to doors opening. He hadn’t been able to locate him yet and the screening time was drawing near.

He asked the projectionist, “Have you seen the General Manager around?”

“Ah, The General. He was here this afternoon when I was setting up. I’m not sure where he’s gone.”

“Why do you call him The General?” asked Sami. “Is he a tough guy?”

“Actually, no. Quite the opposite, but I know he is an ex-military man. He led tough campaigns in Asia, and fought in brutal African wars. You wouldn’t think so though.”

This made Sami think of the ancient Indian king Asoka, who renounced bloodshed and became an advocate of non-violence, truth and tolerance instead. Sumerian king Gilgamesh, said to be one-third human and two-thirds divine, also mended his vicious ways. If only such leaders had been studied in 20th century Germany, Cambodia, Iraq, China, Russia and America, the world would now be a better place.

Sami located The General fifteen minutes before doors opened. He was a tall, well-built man with cropped red hair and eyes that seemed orange at first, but were in fact bright brown. Sami walked him around the site and showed him the screen, which had been stiffened to counter evening winds, projector, cabling, seating, ropes, poles and carpets. He ran through key timings and flows, and showed the required safety certificates.

The General was very friendly and calm. He made some minor comments, said, “Good job”, “Good stuff”, and “Good work”, and said he would be in his office if needed. The run through with him took under five minutes. Now that’s a guy who trusts people, thought Sami. I’ll bet his soldiers felt inspired.

There was an issue concerning wheelchair spaces. Sami had allocated five spaces, but a village official said there should be seven. It was too late to change seating layout now as doors were opening in less than ten minutes, but the village official insisted on the change.

Sami decided to get support from The General. After all, he was in charge here and had approved the plan. He buzzed his office, and the door flew open immediately.

After a dark hallway, Sami came to a steel door which slid open silently. There was The General watching a bank of screens that covered an entire wall. Facial recognition technology identified people and followed them around. Where were these cameras hidden? Sami hadn’t noticed them anywhere in The Place.

On the adjacent wall were pinned scores of faces, a few of whom he recognized. Many had a black strike slashing across their faces. The General looked at Sami and said, “Two strikes and you’re out.”

His bright brown eyes lit up, very fiery, like when he had dropped bombs on restless provinces, and spearheaded “population control” projects. He had acted as consultant to many governments, and oil and water companies, who needed certain people to disappear. The General was interested in the film tonight, HUMANITY, but more so in its rumoured sequel, INHUMANITY. He hoped it would feature some of his special projects.

Redirection

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2012 by javedbabar

There was just an hour to go till the global launch of the film HUMANITY. Sami was pleased that everything was set. The screen and scaffold, projector, VIP and ordinary chairs, ropes and poles and red carpet were all in place.

There had been a light wind whispering all day. In the morning it rose from Mt Alba, the white mountain towering above the village, and then travelled along the valley to Mt Negra, the dark mountain at its far end. In the late afternoon it picked up and returned.

Sami noticed light reflecting around The Place, the communal space at the heart of the village where the screening would occur. Where was it coming from?

He looked around but nothing was moving, except, damn! The 20 x 40 ft screen was rippling, only slightly, but enough to notice.

This was a disaster! The director’s carefully composed shots would be distorted. The screening would be ruined.

The projectionist had noticed the rippling too. He called Sami over and said, “We need to do something about this. The film will look pretty bad otherwise.”

Sami asked, “Can you do something with the projector?” and then realized it was a stupid question. He could hardly project anti-ripples. They would have to adjust the scaffold and screen.

The projectionist discussed options with the crew. They decided they could improve the situation by tightening the screen. This meant men in hard hats, tied to ropes, climbing ladders, so for safety reasons they would have to block all access to The Place. Despite being local project manager, Sami was in practical terms the least useful person on site, and was asked to redirect members of the public.

He blocked the entrance with a road barrier and greeted people approaching with a smile. It was hard to get annoyed when someone had smiled at you already for no reason. This was a conflict resolution technique taught to him by Guru Baba.

A young woman approached and said, “Excuse me please, I am the owner of that sandwich shop,” – she pointed to a cute shop with red and white hanging baskets – “I need to check stock for tomorrow.”

“Can you enter from the back, Miss? I won’t be able to let you through here for half an hour.”

“The cops have closed off the back areas. I have to enter from the front.”

“I am sorry, but you will have to wait. Will you be able to do it later, or in the morning?”

“I guess I could do it in the morning. That’s a good idea. My boyfriend wakes me up anyway. He’s a health nut, and goes running at 5am. I may as well come then.”

A man in his fifties approached, sweating, and said, “I have to get to the hairdressers. It is urgent!”

“Do you have an appointment? No? Why is it urgent? It is only hair.” Sami’s hair was thinning and he didn’t care. “Hair today, gone tomorrow!”

The man thought about this for a moment and said, “You are right. Hair today, gone tomorrow.” He said it again and removed his wig, which had needed adjustment. A little more light reflected around The Place.

A man with Celtic tattoos said, “I need vitamins from the health shop.”

Sami said, “Which ones? Okay, A, C, E and K? Why don’t you eat spinach instead?”

An agitated woman ran up and said, “I need formula for my baby. She is hungry and I’ve run out.”

Sami gave her a hard hat and escorted her to the grocery store. He had learnt many lessons from Guru Baba. One of the most important was to know when to redirect people, and when to help them on their way.

Red Carpet

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by javedbabar

Most items were now set for the showing. The screen and scaffold, projector and speakers, VIP and ordinary chairs, and ropes and poles, were all in place. The red carpet however had not arrived.

The CORE – Customer Order Response Expedition – system was stupid, thought Sami. Sending items on individual trucks was a terrible idea, but what could he do? He wasn’t in charge of logistics. He was in charge of set up, and the global launch of the film HUMANITY was good to go, minus only one red carpet.

An hour before the show he called the delivery company again. The despatcher said he would ask the driver to call Sami right away.

The driver called him. “I delivered it an hour ago,” she said. “It’s at the mayor’s office. I was told that’s where to deliver it.”

The mayor’s office was one kilometre from The Place, the communal space at the heart of the village and location for tonight’s screening. Sami said, “Who told you that?”

“Well, I was sent round and round by detours. There were cops everywhere who wouldn’t let me stop. So I called another driver who said that was the usual place, so I dropped it off there.”

“That’s not the right place! Can you please retrieve the carpet and bring it here to The Place? I will direct you to the delivery entrance.”

“Sorry, I’m fifty kilometres away now, heading back to the city.”

Damn! thought Sami. He needed that red carpet for VIPs. He had better go and get it himself. The projectionist had set up early and was now relaxing, sipping a beer. Sami said, “Excuse me, can you please help me with something?”

He didn’t indicate a readiness to move.

“It’s important.”

The projectionist stood up and said, “Sure.”

With all the road closures and diversions, it would be quicker to walk. They reached the mayor’s office in ten minutes. The security guard said, “I was wondering why they brought that here. I thought it was for one of the mayor’s special parties.” He tapped his nose as he said this.

Sami and the projectionist threw opposite ends of the roll over their shoulders. It smelled quite clean, but there was a hint of beer – or was it champagne? – and fish – or was it oysters? They carried the rolled carpet through the village, looking like a pair of toy plumbers. Sami thought, it’s a shame it’s not a magic carpet. We could have ridden it through the valley, over forests, lakes, and rivers, across icecaps…

At The Place, Sami paced out the distance from the street to the VIP area. They rolled out the carpet, cut it at one end, and taped it in place.

Sami noticed specks on the carpet. Upon closer inspection, he saw they were a mixture of dirt, gravel, powder and leaf bits. He found a hoover and cleaned them up. The red carpet looked really good now, like a ribbon across a present. He took installation photos.

As he did that a family of five walked across the far part of the carpet, adjoining the street, before the VIP ropes and poles. Sami recognized them; he had seen them picking through dumpsters behind The Place’s restaurants. They posed and took pictures on their phones. They dreamed of being asked to grace a red carpet, but who ever welcomed trailer park folk?

The security guard was about to move them on; they were leaving dirt and crumbs; but Sami told him to wait. Right now the red carpet was acting as a band-aid, not a ribbon. Let them enjoy their moment of glamour. He could hoover the carpet again.

Efficient Delivery

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by javedbabar

“Where are you?” said Sami. “You were supposed to be here by five p.m.”

“I can’t find the place,” said the driver. “I’ve been going around for half an hour.” His voice faded, there was a grinding noise, and Sami heard him say, “Why not? It’s just there. Can’t you just let me through?” His voice returned. “There are cops everywhere, blocking all the exits. What’s going on here today?”

“It’s the global launch of the film HUMANITY. It’s a big event so there’s extra security, plus detours. It took me an hour to get in this afternoon, and I am running the show!”

This local project manager contract had come up suddenly. Sami’s usual job was as personal assistant to Guru Baba, a retired holy man, but he was away on pilgrimage for a month so Sami had time available.

“Look, where are you exactly? Near the community centre? The old one or the new one? Okay, just keep going straight for a hundred metres, turn left, left again, and there is a delivery entrance on the left. I will wait for you there.”

Sami called him ten minutes later. “Where are you?”

“Sorry I missed the exit and have to go around again.”

Sami called him after another ten minutes.

“I couldn’t get back on the road near the community centre. Listen, I’ll figure it out. I’ll call you when I get there.”

Half an hour later, Sami saw the truck approaching the delivery entrance. He pushed a button to open the swing doors, and the truck pulled in.

The driver was sweating. He said, “I’m sorry about that. I thought it would be a regular delivery. I’ve been to this village before, I remember the white mountain towering above it, and the black one at the far end of the valley. It was so annoying going round and around, like an ant lost in the jungle. Anyway, enough of that, where do you want the chairs?”

Sami indicated a corner. “There should be two kinds, ordinary chairs and VIP chairs, a hundred of each.”

The driver raised his eyebrows and nodded. He rolled stacks of chairs out using a dolly. The VIP chairs were in pristine condition, their golden frames covered in red velvet. The ordinary chairs were of battered grey metal.

Sami checked them over and said, “This one looks busted. Okay not busted, but in poor condition. Can you change it please? This one too.”

The driver swapped them for better ones.

“Where are the VIP ropes and poles, and the red carpet?”

“They are on the other trucks.”

“Other trucks?”

“Yes, the ropes are on one truck, the poles on another, and the carpet on a third. We use the CORE delivery system – Customer Order Response Expedition. Every order is managed individually.”

Sami was astounded. “What does that achieve?”

“Efficient delivery.”

Is he kidding? thought Sami. That is the most inefficient delivery system I have ever heard of. Putting things together is efficient, not pulling them apart.

“When are the other trucks coming?”

“They are on their way.”

Sami asked the crew to carry stacks of chairs to the seating areas, set them up, and test them individually. He didn’t want crashes during the film. Curiously, the VIP chairs were more cushioned but less comfortable. Maybe they would suit the people who sat on them, who were often the least comfortable with themselves. Comfort was not related to wealth, it was related to life experience.

Sami picked out a grey metal chair for himself.

Tombstoning

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by javedbabar

The projectionist had carefully aligned the projection tent and screen scaffold positions as soon as he had arrived. The axis between them was the key to perfect screening. The crew had followed his precise instructions, he had fine-tuned the image, and everything was set to go by 4 p.m. The global launch of the film HUMANITY was at 8 p.m. so he went off to get some early dinner.

When he returned, he sensed something was wrong. What had happened?

Someone had moved the damn screen!

The crew were smoking near the bins. He felt like cursing them aloud from where he was but instead decided to walk over, by which time he had calmed down.

“Excuse me. Were any of you involved in moving the screen?”

The crew looked at each other nervously, and one of them said, “Yes, that guy there,” – he pointed at Sami – “asked us to angle it towards the trees.”

“That guy!” He exploded. “Who the hell is he?”

The crew member replied, “I think he is the local…”

Before he had finished, the projectionist ran towards Sami. While still ten metres away, he shouted, “I am the projectionist. I laid out the location this morning. Did you tell the crew to shift the screen?”

Sami was surprised by his aggressive manner, but responded coolly. “Sorry, did I need to ask you first? I didn’t realize. We need to give the VIPs a good view. Some of them have paid a thousand dollars for a ticket. The screen position needed adjustment.”

Sami backed away to ease tension, but the projectionist stepped forward. “Do you know what will happen now? The projector and screen are misaligned. There will be a tombstone effect. I am not sure if I can correct it. How will your VIPs like that?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“Tombstoning – keystoning – haven’t you heard of that? There’s image distortion…”

“Look, if it’s a technical issue, there’s no point in explaining it to me. There’s nothing I can do about it. You’re the expert here. Can you please fix it?”

The projectionist grumbled and went off to make the necessary adjustments. Sami didn’t like bossing people about; he preferred to work in a harmonious team, but sometimes you had to push a little. Hadn’t the projectionist already returned to his tent and started working on a fix?

Five minutes later, the projector came to life. A huge orange OM symbol filled the screen. It was the first frame of the film, instantly recognizable from the global marketing campaign.

Sami knew that OM was a symbol of infinity and could be expressed in myriad forms, but he had to admit that something was wrong with it. There were hazy areas and its dimensions were distorted.

The projectionist called to him, “See what I mean now?”

“Yes I do. Can we move the projector?”

“No pal, we can’t. All the kit here is set up now. Can we move the screen, or the VIPs?”

“I’m afraid we can’t. The VIPs…”

The projectionist had worked on hundreds of jobs. He was a professional. He said, “Okay, I’ll do my best.”

He reviewed relationships, reprogrammed forms and adjusted parameters using his projection software. The image flashed, shook, stretched and settled. Within half an hour, it was much improved, though still a bit hazy and distorted.

Sami realized that he preferred it like this. If the objective of filmmaking was to bring things to life, was it not more realistic for a cosmic symbol to be at least partly unfathomable?

Screen Angle

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by javedbabar

“Keep moving please!” said the traffic cop. “No stopping here. There’s no entry.”

Sami was annoyed. He thought that by coming on a bicycle he would get a break, but the cops were treating car drivers, motorbikers, cyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians the same. He wondered how wheelchair users would fare.

“But I am part of the production crew. I am the local project manager for the screening.”

This had no effect. The cop waved him on and said, “Well you should know better then. Nobody is allowed through this way except VIPs. Do you have VIP credentials?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Well, go around the back like everybody else. Once you pass through security, you’re in.”

It was strange to see the heart of Lucerne cordoned off. It was an important event, he knew, and they had to take precautions, but it didn’t seem right somehow.

The global launch of the film HUMANITY could have taken place in London, Tokyo, Mumbai, Paris or New York, but the director had had his vision for the film while climbing mountains here. The white bulk of Mt Alba at one end of the valley, and dark bulk of Mt Negra at the other, had caused him to “transcend the monochromicity of the world, while retaining its bipolar archetypes.”

What this meant, nobody really knew, but he was a world famous auteur at the peak of his creative powers, so it didn’t matter. He declared this film the “cumulative cultural container” of his lifetime’s work, and said that it must be revealed to the world in the place where the world had revealed it to him.

The producer had wanted to show the film on the railway tracks to signify “humanity at the crossroads,” and his people had conducted negotiations with the provincial government, village council, railways department, health and safety boards, and emergency services, but had been unable to convince them to allow this. So instead they had settled for The Place, the communal square in the centre of the village.

It took an hour to get through security. By the time Sami was on location, the scaffold and screen were set up. He knew that the screen was twenty by forty feet, but in situ it looked much bigger. The film would look awesome on that.

He scoped the area, paced it out, and ran through things in his head. VIPs were here near the trees, premium diners there near the fountain, ordinary ticket holders on the terrace, and press near the bar.

Hang on! The VIPs would get the same view as everybody else. That wasn’t right. He had been told that VIPs must get the best view. He would have to move the screen, maybe angle it a little towards them. He called over a technician.

The technician said, “Look pal, it’s all set up. It will be tricky to move it. Why don’t we just leave it there?”

Sami felt he had no option. “I’m afraid we have to move it.”

“But isn’t this film called HUMANITY? Why don’t we give everyone an equal view?”

Cinema is a cultural artefact. By exploiting the universal power of visual communication, it is used for entertainment, education and indoctrination. Individual images are shown rapidly, creating the illusion of motion. One cannot see their flickering due to an effect called persistence of vision, wherein the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source has been removed. Thus, things persist, whether we like it or not. One such thing is social privilege.

Sami said, “We need to move the screen for the VIPs. Can you please call the rest of the crew.”