Archive for multimedia

Ragnarok

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny said, “I am sorry I was being difficult before. You know what you are doing here. You are doing a good job.”

“Thanks for saying that,” said Sophie, “but what was your issue, exactly? I was never really sure.” She had an inkling, but wanted to hear it from him.

“Well, I had the same idea four years ago. I mean, converting the old quarry into a multimedia venue. When I visited Egypt I saw the Pyramids of Giza’s sound and light show, and thought something like that could work here too. I told the village CEO but she wouldn’t listen, and then hey presto – someone has the bright idea to turn the old quarry into a multimedia venue. I thought you had stolen my idea, and taken all the credit, and was really mad. I hoped you would fail, and you almost did when it flooded, but now I accept that you developed this idea independently. I submit.”

He bowed and then continued dropping, as if to the floor. Was he really going to prostrate himself? Normally Sophie would have let him continue – why not? – but after his confession, she felt he had fallen enough. It was time to raise him.

She said, “Look, I have made many mistakes too. Each show is a new show, and I’m learning continuously, but the process is becoming familiar, and I have a talented and reliable team. Thanks for all your help to date, Danny.”

He was itching to ask something, she could tell. He said, “What about the current show? Are you happy with how it’s turned out?”

Ragnarok had been a strange choice, granted. A cataclysmic story compiled from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda of Iceland. Her father had been a captain in the merchant navy, and told her Norse myths as bedtime stories whenever she stayed with him. He had left her mother when Sophie was five, for “another woman in another port,” her mother told her years later.

“Yes I am happy,” said Sophie. “But I hope things don’t turn out like that in reality, or if they do, then not in our lifetimes.”

The show was sold out. People came to QARY whatever the story. It was on the itinerary of every visitor to the west coast of Arcadia, as something not to be missed.

Ragnarok’s series of future events, and great battles foretold, were made for multimedia. The occurrence of natural disasters, destruction and submersion of the world, and its resurfacing and repopulation by two human survivors, gave her technicians a chance to show off.

They put a live rooster in each room, whose every movement was tracked, triggering sounds and visuals. The Crimson Rooster in the forest caused Yggdrasil, the world tree, to shudder and groan. The Golden Rooster in Valhalla made the Eagle shriek. The Soot-Red Rooster in Hel made the Midgard Serpent writhe. The Hound growled before the Cave. The Giant strode from the east. The Ship broke free and set sail westwards. Odin was swallowed by the wolf Fenrir.

Ragna means “ruling powers”.

Rock means both “the end” and “renewal”.

Ragnarok is thus an ending and a beginning.

Danny said, “What if it really happened, and we were the only two humans left?”

Ah! So that’s it, thought Sophie. He likes me; he’s coming on to me. She said, “Well then you would be a very lucky guy, as that is the only way I would ever consider dating you.”

Bhagavad Gita

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by javedbabar

“Why can’t we do proper stories?” said Danny. He was still unhappy about Tao Te Ching being forced upon him last month.

Maybe his mind is totally rational, thought Sophie, and this stuff is too wacky for him. But there was more to it than that.

He said, “It’s another piece of religious propaganda. Myths I am okay with, as nobody treats them seriously. People think of them as meaningful stories, but don’t insist they are the word of God. I don’t believe in supernatural agencies, full stop.”

He is becoming more troublesome, thought Sophie. I could fire him but he’s such a great technician. I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

“Going back to your original point, Danny, this is a proper story. The Bhagavad Gita is part of one of the greatest stories ever told, the Mahabharata, which is ten times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. The Gita is its essence.”

There were regular battles between Danny and Sophie. She liked working with people who brought positive energy to tasks. Danny’s endless negativity was tiresome and it affected other crew members. To pull off multimedia spectaculars at QARY, the converted old quarry, she needed a tight team. There was no room for cowards and traitors.

Sophie wasn’t against conflict. It was a way of sizing up opposing views, integrating, and hopefully transcending them, to a higher form of thought. Could she do that with Danny? He would need convincing. It was her leadership test.

She said, “Gandhi called the Gita his spiritual dictionary. Within it he sought the answer to every difficult question, and its teachings inspired the Indian independence movement. Do you practice yoga? You don’t? Okay, what about other people? Ah, most of you do. The Gita contains the essence of yoga; it details Karma, the yoga of action, Bhakti, the yoga of love, and Jnana, the yoga of knowledge, and promotes a positive philosophy of life.”

Danny was grinning, so Sophie asked, “What’s up?”

“I thought you would try to overwhelm us with stuff like this, so I did my own research. The whole story is about a war. The prince, Arjuna, is caught up in a huge battle; his brothers are on one side, and his cousins, uncles, teachers and friends are on the other. He doesn’t want to fight at all, he wants to make peace, and if he can’t do that, he would rather die than kill others.

“But his charioteer, Krishna, tells him to fight. He says it is his duty to fight. He has to do the best he can, regardless of outcome. And the Gita speaks highly of the caste system, and about women as lowly. Why do you want us to promote these ideas?”

Sophie was furious. Danny was trying to derail her project. She said, “I am sure you know it is symbolic. Sure, a war analogy is problematic. It can be misinterpreted, but it can also be used to show the ethical and moral struggles of life.” She decided to cut short her sermon and practice Karma Yoga instead.

They ran through the production’s practical aspects and then discussed the climax, where Krishna reveals that he is the ultimate cause of all material and spiritual existence, and his cosmic form, Visvarupa, is unleashed, a theophany facing every direction.

Sophie said, “So we will need one thousand projectors to emit the radiance of a thousand suns, and one thousand mirrors to contain all beings in material existence. Danny you are in charge of procuring those.”

“But I won’t be able to get so many so quickly.”

Sophie gave him a hard look and said, “Well just do the best you can. That’s the message of the Gita.”

Tao Te Ching

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“This is ridiculous,” said Danny. “Can you please make up your mind which comes first, Tao Ching or Te Ching?”

“Well, that is what we are discussing,” said Sophie. “It could be either.”

“Isn’t the name of the work Tao Te Ching? It has eighty-one chapters in a particular order, so why don’t we stick with that?”

The rest of the production crew looked at each other in general agreement, but also at Danny, annoyed. He didn’t know how to endear himself to people. Sophie was much better at that.

She said, “Because there is a school of thought that the first thirty seven chapters, Tao Ching, and the next forty four chapters, Te Ching, were reversed in the original text. The original may work better for dramatic purposes. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts on this before scheduling the show.”

Tao Te Ching had been an unpopular choice from the beginning. It lacked the narrative structure of previous productions such as Osiris, Beowulf or Gilgamesh. It was a mystical work full of contradictions.

Sophie envisioned the show as an experiential rather than narrative production, and had in truth, forced it upon them. The QARY project was her baby. It was she who had initiated the conversion of the old quarry into a venue for multimedia productions. She would call the shots.

Danny persisted in being difficult. He said, “Look, it’s easy to do. I know how to do it. We are trying to create the essential, unfathomable process of the universe. Something dreamy and mysterious, strange and illuminating. It’s the feeling you get when you’re stoned. All we have to do is re-create that.”

The production crew sniggered and ribbed each other. Sophie wanted to smile but kept a straight face. “Thank you for that, Danny. Why don’t you bring a joint for everyone to the next meeting? One, two, three…ten, eleven, twelve. That’s twelve joints, okay?”

Danny said, “Okay,” weakly, and Sophie forgot all about it.

At the next meeting, Danny looked pleased with himself. He opened a golden silk pouch embroidered with a dragon, and produced twelve joints. Everyone cheered.

Sophie had given up smoking four years ago but still indulged in herbs. Once everyone had a joint in hand, she said, “First I will recap, and then let’s brainstorm.”

She reminded them that Tao Te Ching is filled with short deliberate statements and intentional contradictions. Memorable phrases are delivered, and readers forced to create their own reconciliations of the supposed contradictions.

Poets, painters, warriors and gardeners had used it as a source of inspiration for millennia. It had political advice for kings, and practical wisdom for regular people. It had a long textual history and a limitless variety of interpretations. What could the production team glean from the work? They examined a few phrases together.

“The Tao that can be told, is not the Eternal Tao.”

“Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding.”

“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial.”

“The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Danny. “I am not doing this production.”

Sophie smiled and said, “You have a choice to make Danny. There is doing by doing, which is effective work; there is doing by not doing, which means avoiding mistakes; there is not doing by doing, which means correcting errors. There is also not doing by not doing, which is unemployment. Which do you prefer?”

Old Masters

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was relieved that the It’s Mine! show was a success. Her first project at the old quarry could have gone wrong, with people turning their noses up at the local eyesore with a history of accidents, pollution, corruption, industrial action and financial trouble. Instead they welcomed its reopening as the return of an old friend, albeit a very artsy friend.

Rather than praise Sophie, her CEO said, “The show was good, but it didn’t bring any money into the village. My name was attached to the project. It would have been nice to have commercial success.”

“But the site was approved for community use only. It wasn’t meant to make a profit.” God, her CEO was a bitch. Why was she making a fuss for no reason?

“Well, we need to produce another show, this time to make money.”

Sophie began working on it right away. The last one had taken three months to arrange, and this one should be quicker.

The production process proved an uphill struggle though. She couldn’t get anybody interested in a second community event.

The notion of projecting images across the vast, bare spaces of an old quarry should excite people. It was hardly a run of the mill event. But the artists involved argued about the order of the work shown, copyright fees, and signing waivers.

The Director of Lucerne Arts council, Eric Yahoo, said, “We are artists, not used to success. Fame and adoration are difficult issues for people seeing themselves as outsiders. We are now seen as valuable members of the community, and what self-respecting artist wants that?”

Sophie called the art critic of the New City Sun. He said, “The Lucerne Set is now old news. The old quarry has been done before, and the public wants something new.”

Wasn’t an old thing a good thing? thought Sophie. Her grandma always said, “Old is gold”, but then again she did have self-interest.

But good things are timeless, like the world’s great stories that her grandma told her at bedtime. Myths like Osiris, Beowulf, Gilgamesh and Percival, classic novels like Ulysses, and ancient texts like Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita. Yes they have all been “done before”, but you can do them again, and again, and again. What would the art critic say to those?

Such productions take time to arrange, and myths require scale. She would like to get digital projectors, each with an individual server, add high-end fibre-optic technology, and computer-controlled dynamic event lighting. The impressionistic evocations and intriguing relief effects would be enhanced by audio-punch and video-precision. That would all cost money. Right now she must work with what she had.

Eric Yahoo managed to source ten more slide projectors. One came with a carousel full of slides of Old Masters’ paintings.

Sophie sat with Albert, the old quarry’s manager, viewing the slides. They saw Leonardo’s virgins, Michelangelo’s nubile boys, Raphael’s coronations and weddings, Titian’s flaying and mauling, Bosch’s hell on earth, El Greco’s disrobing, Constable’s horses and carts, Turner’s mystical seascapes, and Blake’s heavenly visions.

Sophie and Albert looked at each other. He said, “Old is gold.”

The Old Masters show drew crowds daily, and most productions were sold out. The Old Masters were innovators, trying new colours, perspectives, textures and forms. They would have appreciated the latest technology. Their paintings’ multiple viewpoints, bright colours, sharp details, and superhuman scale made them seem hyper-real.

Local Artists

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was given a month off after fainting in the old quarry. Why this had happened, she couldn’t say. She fainted maybe once a year, usually following a trauma such as a blood test, tooth extraction, or session of heavy drinking. Never just like that though, and her heart stopping was scary to think about.

Maybe the old quarry’s manager, Albert, had overreacted. Maybe her heart’s beating and her breathing were fine, and his old miner’s ears just couldn’t hear. He didn’t seem like the kind of guy to make a drama out of a crisis. It must really have happened.

Her dreams of every kind of art continued. Blue and gold paintings, violin solos, white-masked dancers, poetry, stories, dramas, sculptures, celebrations, parties, holy rituals.

Were these inspirations or delusions? She yearned to visit the old quarry, but was scared to. What if she fainted again?

During her month off, an answer came to her. The quarry was a place of pain, where Mother Earth had been butchered. Her body had, piece by piece, been ripped out and removed, and once the demand for rock was exhausted, the quarry was abandoned like an old crone.

Her vision had been one of endless life, pouring forth, unstoppable. What if this place of pain could become a place of healing? She continued working on her status report for the old quarry.

“Sophie, what a nice surprise,” said her CEO, seeing her back in the office.

“I have the report.”

“But you’ve only just got back. Don’t you need more time?”

Sophie said it was complete. She shared her vision of using the vast, bare walls, floors, ceilings, and pillars of the quarry as a projection area. Bringing the stone to life, like a miracle, and using it to show every kind of art.

“That sounds very interesting. Leave it with me. I will take a look.”

Sophie imagined that would be the last she would hear of the project, but a week later her CEO called her in again. “Good news, Sophie. Your plan has been approved, at least on a test basis. I had to put my name on it for the project to acquire traction, but we both know it’s yours really. As recognition of that you can manage the project.”

The quarry project was approved for community use only. Sophie contacted Eric Yahoo, Director of the Lucerne Arts Council, who asked for a week to fathom a plan. He responded with a fund-raising proposal including carefully costed lighting, logistics, security, production charges and vendors’ fees. The concept revolved around ten reconditioned slide projectors showing sixty images each per hour, filling the quarry with pictures.

Local artists offered their works freely, which were loosely fitted together into the It’s Mine! Festival, a humorous critique of materialistic existence. Their paintings, music, dance, poetry, stories, drama, sculpture, celebrations, parties and rituals were combined, creating an overwhelming spectacle.

A critic from the New City Sun christened these artists the Lucerne Set. He loved their clay figurines, urban tapestries, unmade beds, pickled watermelons, moose dung, monkey graffiti, blood heads, and twinned personae.

It was a diluted version of Sophie’s vision, and seeing it manifested made her cry. From this old quarry she had mined rich treasure.