Archive for retina

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.”


Drunky Taxis

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny was drunk for the third time this week at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. The barman was considering giving him a one week ban, but then he thought, where else would he go? The guy was already lost in life; why steal away one of his few remaining anchors?

He’d had one too many though, and was annoying customers; Donna in particular. It was a wonder that she put up with his persistent propositions and bullshit without calling him out. A guy would have decked him along ago. Maybe women were just nicer.

“Time to go home, my friend,” the barman said to Danny. “Better make sure you’ve got your keys. You don’t want to be locked out do you?” When Danny drew his keys out of his pocket to check, the barman swiped them. This worked every time with drunks. The barman pulled out Danny’s car keys, put them in a tin behind the bar, and returned the rest of the bunch to its owner. “Time to go home, my friend.”

Danny didn’t protest; he knew where he stood here. He was a hopeless drunk and his opponent was the king of this joint. The barman said, “I’ve called you a taxi. It will be here in five minutes. You can wait outside.”

Danny got into the taxi and asked how much it would be to Kalash, the subdivision beyond the Golden turnoff, way up the Lucerne Valley Road. The taxi driver said, “That will be fifty bucks, pal.”

Danny laughed heartily. “That’s a good one, buddy. How much really?”

“It’s fifty bucks, my friend. I’m giving you a break already. It’s thirty kilometres at two bucks per click, that’s sixty bucks, and at this time I could charge you half-rate for the return trip. But I won’t do that.”

“Fifty bucks!” said Danny, his head in hands. “Fifty bucks!” He started sobbing, then opened the door, cursed the driver and got out. “F***ing drunky taxis! Fifty bucks! Stuff it up your ass!”

The driver radioed his base to report an abusive passenger and drove away. Danny re-entered the bar. The barman called out, “Hey there, I told you already, time to go home.”

Danny told the barman that the taxi had refused to take him as far as Kalash. The barman shook his head and called one from the other company in town.

Danny tried his negotiation skills again, but the driver stuck to the standard rate of sixty bucks, and also wanted half-rate return, so it would now cost ninety bucks. “Ninety bucks!” wailed Danny. “Ninety bucks! The other driver was charging me fifty!”

The driver said, “Well you should have gone with him then, pal.”

Danny asked the barman to order him another cab, but he refused. Danny called both companies himself, but they declined to transport him.

“How much money to stay here?” he asked the barman. “Upstairs in the rooms?”

“It’s sixty bucks a night, my friend.”

“Sixty bucks!” he cried. “Sixty bucks!” He winked at Donna along the bar, nudged up and smiled at her. “How about sharing a room here, honey? Only thirty bucks each.”

The barman was stunned when she agreed to the proposal and led him off to bed. The barman didn’t know that in the real world, Danny had been a real gentleman. Donna had been a troubled woman, who Danny had helped, expecting nothing in return. She had later almost died from a drugs overdose, and his permanent vegetative state was the result of a stroke.

They were both now living their lives via virtual retinal projections. Some people coped with this change better than others. Donna knew that Danny wasn’t doing so well, and needed a hand now.


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Global Travel, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by javedbabar

It was surprising how few people enjoyed the Botanical Garden. Danny was often alone there, or maybe there were other people around but in different sections – the Amazonian Rainforest or Egyptian Oasis areas, or in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, though these were being regenerated after the recent war. Anyway it was a shame that more people didn’t make better use of Lucerne’s wonderful amenity.

Danny had first met Sophie – with her long arms and legs, black hair and big brown eyes – at the seed fixture, and their date at the garden’s cafe had gone very well; he often saw the green-suited founder of the place, known as The Gardener, strolling around. But apart from some young rascals running between bushes, that was it in terms of regular visitors.

He spotted a new guy strolling along the main path and said hello. The next day he saw him again, and said hello again. The new guy didn’t look too well. Maybe he was recovering from illness and taking a stroll daily for his health. He moved with hesitation and his responses to Danny’s greetings were slow. Danny also imagined that he could be mentally sub-normal, or maybe depressed. He couldn’t enquire about these things of course; it would be considered most rude.

One day the man really looked terrible. His skin was greenish and his greeting was more slurred than usual. Danny said, “Excuse me, are you feeling all right?”

The man stopped struggling to walk and stood beside Danny. He said, “Yes I feel okay, thanks pal.” But this was difficult to believe when he was green and trembling, with froth forming on his lips.

There was a crash in the bushes and some cries for help. It must be those boys mucking about again, thought Danny. They’ll hurt themselves.

The man said to Danny, “Listen pal, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you don’t look so good either. Your skin seems green and you’re shaking.”

“That’s funny,” said Danny. “That’s what I noticed about you. Maybe we should leave this section of the garden; there may be allergens here. Are you allergic to pollens or spores? I suffer from severe hay fever but I’m not sneezing. It could…”

“Look at those caterpillars,” said the man, pointing to yellow and black-striped bugs the size of his thumb. “I’ll bet one touch of those would make you break into a sweat. I picked one up when I was a kid and it…”

Danny wasn’t paying attention to what the man said. His eyes opened wider as the man reduced in intensity, became transparent, and faded away. Was it a trick of the light, or of his eyes? Where had he gone? Was this a joke?

Then he noticed that his own hands had disappeared. A moment later he was no longer in the Botanical Garden.

Danny was back in a bed in Lucerne Village Medical Centre. Misalignment of satellites had caused his signal to break up, and neither his, nor other patients’, virtual retinal projections could be sustained. He was just another client of the centre’s Permanent Life Enhancement unit. He would never walk or talk again, but once the satellites were realigned, he could at least continue to enjoy the garden.