1522 – Rabid (2019)

Rabid is a remake by the Soska (Jen SoskaSylvia Soska) sisters of the Cronenberg 1977 cult classic. It is rare to say that you can watch a remake without having seen the original, but this even works on its own I think. In this sense it is a re-imagining not a remake. From all the recent art horror remakes, especially 2018 Suspiria, I like this one the best.

Also from all the recent glam fashion horror that stick out as pure exercises in style which is perfectly ok, such as Neon Demon or the self-reflexive art world satires such as Velvet Buzzaw, I prefer this one. It is somehow in tow with Raw, Black Swan or Starry Eyes, or even Brian de Palma’s Passion.

When I say it is not a just rehash on the older Cronenberg – although choke-full or references, I do not especially care if it is a faithful homage or not, in fact it should be as unfaithful as a skin graft to its donor. Rabid 2019 is a new chapter in the exploitation of abortive new flesh, artificial lab grown tissues and liveliness of unwanted grafts. Fashioning oneself and fashioning others via proteins as well as wardrobes links to a larger pursuit of bodily success on par with financial one, good looks, malade beauty and catwalk Schadenfreude. The secretive reclusive 70s Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery shifts into a new big money Transhumanist enterprise with more defined Immortalist creepy ideals & skin graft wet dream. It not just catwalk horror, it is full with inserts, cameos, even TV sitcom moments, combined a lot of goofy gore, a lot of splattershtick that would make Sam Raimi proud, dismemberment, trembling foaming bodies, it’s a mess, and this I like. Even if over the top, I like the Burroughs-Frankenstein moments and direct quote, the fact that he seems to loom large over the power and control issues of the present.

Like in the high bureau corporate melodrama Passion, it plays on the highly pressurized and pasteurized, the toxic competitive job environments that capitalism is so good at fostering, all prone to back-stabbings, cancellations and public humiliations, everything that the Internet pundits and social platform critics abhor, the propensity to use exposure, shaming, revenge porn, character assassination, sextortion, dank humor, every vulnerabiliy transubstiantiated into some sort of easy satisfaction, gain or trade for LULZ. What is not apparent in the techno panic version is exactly how this plays out for the silent or the subaltern. When it’s not the boss making a point, they permit a cheeky contestation, pointing skilfully the faults of another in public, the reading, shade in queer or afro- code switching and the schadenfreude joy this brings, hacking of the very codes of competition allows such dissing of the powerful. Ultimately rabid bodies are eminently white, with greedy clinics catering for such clientele.

The Soska sisters really brought this new cosmetic ideal to Rabid, in a lusty, Mask of the Red Death-like over the top full of gory humor way. This has an overlay with contagion from pre Covid 19 era that blends into now, that I consider particularly helpful in the context of the epidemic as spectacle, as hype and fashion trend not just as scare.

This was already there in Cronenberg and his interest in the stylishness of disease, the aesthetic and erotic appeal of bruises, laboratory chic, cool steel instrumentalism, clinics as new health temples and the surgical design being the new embalming of the dead alive rich etc but here they all contribute and prepare for the catwalk of disease. The wellness clinic is a ramp, and when it does so, it not only pampers the celebs and the rich, but infects everything around, nurtures the monster under folds of custom flesh. Both the cool interiors & medical devices are in contrast with the burning, scarlet red, hellish color of costumes, hidden floor levels, flesh corridors, blood iso drinks.

I especially enjoyed the relationship of delicate Sadeian Rose(perfect name), the quiet, mousy Rose that nevertheless is scarified by various accidents, horrible if ridiculous events- her perfect face already a broken mirror, and her expansive ‘friend’; the truly overpowering and obnoxious protector. I felt this has very much to do with how charities or rich donors actually play their goodness drowning their objects of care that they pick up from the gutter like little puppies to be offered the best. One does not bite the hand that feeds or caresses you no?

I like how all the characters have something repulsive in their goodness, how in this world of charitable rich people everything is “mercy-fucking” and “free experimental treatment” with no price tag attached, almost everything appears like a favor to the poor, luxury crutches for the down trodden, poisoned cups for the forsaken.

1501- more books on Plague Studies, Quarantines, Paleopatholgy, Pandemic Imaginary, Biopolitics, Socialist Medicine, Epidemic Villains

Title: Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

Year: 2008

Author: William Rosen

Goodreads

A richly told story of the collision between nature’s smallest organism and history’s mightiest empire

The Emperor Justinian reunified Rome’s fractured empire by defeating the Goths and Vandals who had separated Italy, Spain, and North Africa from imperial rule. In his capital at Constantinople he built the world’s most beautiful building, married its most powerful empress, and wrote its most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Rome’s fortunes for the next five hundred years. Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed five thousand people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself.

In Justinian’s Flea, William Rosen tells the story of history’s first pandemic—a plague seven centuries before the Black Death that killed tens of millions, devastated the empires of Persia and Rome, left a path of victims from Ireland to Iraq, and opened the way for the armies of Islam. Weaving together evolutionary microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, Rosen offers a sweeping narrative of one of the great hinge moments in history, one that will appeal to readers of John Kelly’s The Great Mortality, John Barry’s The Great Influenza, and Jared Diamond’s Collapse.

Title: Cultures of Plague: Medical thinking at the end of the Renaissance

Year: 2009

Author: Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Goodreads

Cultures of Plague discloses a new chapter in the history of medicine. Neither the plague nor the ideas it stimulated were static, fixed in a timeless Galenic vacuum over five centuries, as historians and scientists commonly assume. As plague evolved in its pathology, modes of transmission, and the social characteristics of its victims, so did medical thinking about it.

With over 600 plague imprints of the sixteenth century this study highlights the century’s most feared and devastating epidemic that threatened Italy top to toe from 1575 to 1578, unleashing an avalanche of plague writing. From erudite definitions, remote causes, cures and recipes, physicians now directed their plague writings to the prince and discovered their most ‘valiant remedies’ in public health: strict segregation of the healthy and ill, cleaning streets, latrines, and addressing the long‐term causes of plague—poverty. Those outside the medical profession joined the chorus. Relying on health board statistics and dramatized with eyewitness descriptions of bizarre happenings, human misery, and suffering, they created the structure for the plague classics of the eighteenth century and by tracking the contagion’s complex and crooked paths anticipated trends of nineteenth‐century epidemiology.

In the heartland of Counter‐Reformation Italy, physicians, along with those outside the profession, questioned the foundations of Galenic and Renaissance medicine, even the role of God. Such developments did not need to await the Protestant‐Paracelsian alliance of seventeenth‐century northern Europe. Instead, creative forces planted by the pandemic of 1575–8 sowed seeds of doubt and unveiled new concerns and ideas within that supposedly most conservative form of medical writing, the plague tract.


Title: Plague and the Athenian Imagination: Drama, History, and the Cult of Asclepius

Year: 2007

Author: Robin Mitchell-Boyask

Goodreads

The great plague of Athens that began in 430 BCE had an enormous effect on the imagination of its literary artists & on the social imagination of the city as a whole. In this 2007 book, Prof. Mitchell-Boyask studies the impact of the plague on Athenian tragedy early in the 420s & argues for a significant relationship between drama & the development of the cult of the healing god Asclepius in the next decade, during a period of war & increasing civic strife. The Athenian decision to locate their temple for Asclepius adjacent to the Theater of Dionysus arose from deeper associations between drama, healing & the polis that were engaged actively by the crisis of the plague. The book also considers the representation of the plague in Thucydides’ History as well as the metaphors generated by that representation which recur later in the same work. 

Title: The Great Plague: The Story of London’s Most Deadly Year

Year: 2006

Author: A. Lloyd Moote and Dorothy C. Moote

Goodreads

In the winter of 1664-65, a bitter cold descended on London in the days before Christmas. Above the city, an unusually bright comet traced an arc in the sky, exciting much comment and portending “horrible windes and tempests.” And in the remote, squalid precinct of St. Giles-in-the-Fields outside the city wall, Goodwoman Phillips was pronounced dead of the plague. Her house was locked up and the phrase “Lord Have Mercy On Us” was painted on the door in red. By the following Christmas, the pathogen that had felled Goodwoman Phillips would go on to kill nearly 100,000 people living in and around London—almost a third of those who did not flee. This epidemic had a devastating effect on the city’s economy and social fabric, as well as on those who lived through it. Yet somehow the city continued to function and the activities of daily life went on.

In The Great Plague, historian A. Lloyd Moote and microbiologist Dorothy C. Moote provide an engrossing and deeply informed account of this cataclysmic plague year. At once sweeping and intimate, their narrative takes readers from the palaces of the city’s wealthiest citizens to the slums that housed the vast majority of London’s inhabitants to the surrounding countryside with those who fled. The Mootes reveal that, even at the height of the plague, the city did not descend into chaos. Doctors, apothecaries, surgeons, and clergy remained in the city to care for the sick; parish and city officials confronted the crisis with all the legal tools at their disposal; and commerce continued even as businesses shut down.

To portray life and death in and around London, the authors focus on the experiences of nine individuals—among them an apothecary serving a poor suburb, the rector of the city’s wealthiest parish, a successful silk merchant who was also a city alderman, a country gentleman, and famous diarist Samuel Pepys. Through letters and diaries, the Mootes offer fresh interpretations of key issues in the history of the Great Plague: how different communities understood and experienced the disease; how medical, religious, and government bodies reacted; how well the social order held together; the economic and moral dilemmas people faced when debating whether to flee the city; and the nature of the material, social, and spiritual resources sustaining those who remained.

Underscoring the human dimensions of the epidemic, Lloyd and Dorothy Moote dramatically recast the history of the Great Plague and offer a masterful portrait of a city and its inhabitants besieged by—and defiantly resisting—unimaginable horror.


Title: Plague and the End of Antiquity : The Pandemic of 541-750

Year: 2007

Author: Lester K. Little (Editor)

Free book

Plague was a key factor in the waning of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Eight centuries before the Black Death, a pandemic of plague engulfed the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and eventually extended as far east as Persia and as far north as the British Isles. Its persisted sporadically from 541 to 750, the same period that witnessed the distinctive shaping of the Byzantine Empire, a new prominence of the Roman papacy and of monasticism, the beginnings of Islam and the meteoric expansion of the Arabic Empire, the ascent of the Carolingian dynasty in Frankish Gaul and, not coincidentally, the beginnings of a positive work ethic in the Latin West.

In this volume, the first on the subject, twelve scholars from a variety of disciplines history, archaeology, epidemiology, and molecular biology have produced a comprehensive account of the pandemics origins, spread, and mortality, as well as its economic, social, political, and religious effects.

The historians examine written sources in a range of languages, including Arabic, Syriac, Greek, Latin, and Old Irish. Archaeologists analyze burial pits, abandoned villages, and aborted building projects. The epidemiologists use the written sources to track the disease s means and speed of transmission, the mix of vulnerability and resistance it encountered, and the patterns of reappearence over time. Finally, molecular biologists, newcomers to this kind of investigation, have become pioneers of paleopathology, seeking ways to identity pathogens in human remains from the remote past.”

Title: Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793

Year: 1993

Author: J H Powell

Goodreads

n 1793 a disastrous plague of yellow fever paralyzed Philadelphia, killing thousands of residents and bringing the nation’s capital city to a standstill. In this psychological portrait of a city in terror, J. H. Powell presents a penetrating study of human nature revealing itself. Bring Out Your Dead is an absorbing account, form the original sources, of an infamous tragedy that left its mark on all it touched.

Title: Bubonic Plague in Early Modern Russia: Public Health and Urban Disaster

Year: 2002

Author: John T. Alexander

Goodreads

John T. Alexander’s study dramatically highlights how the Russian people reacted to the Plague, and shows how the tools of modern epidemiology can illuminate the causes of the plague’s tragic course through Russia. Bubonic Plauge in Early Modern Russia makes contributions to many aspects of Russian and European history: social, economic, medical, urban, demographic, and meterological. It is particularly enlightening in its discussion of eighteenth-century Russia’s emergent medical profession and public health institutions and, overall, should interest scholars in its use of abundant new primary source material from Soviet, German, and British archives.

Title: A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518

Year: 2009

Author: John Waller

Goodreads

n the searing July heat of 1518, Frau Troffea stepped into the streets of Strasbourg and began to dance. Bathed in sweat, she continued to dance. Overcome with exhaustion, she stopped, and then resumed her solitary jig a few hours later. Over the next two months, roughly four hundred people succumbed to the same agonizing compulsion. At its peak, the epidemic claimed the lives of fifteen men, women, and children a day. Possibly 100 people danced to their deaths in one of the most bizarre and terrifying plagues in history.

John Waller compellingly evokes the sights, sounds, and aromas; the diseases and hardships; the fervent supernaturalism and the desperate hedonism of the late medieval world. Based on new evidence, he explains why the plague occurred and how it came to an end. In doing so, he sheds light on the strangest capabilities of the human mind and on our own susceptibility to mass hysteria.

Title: Farewell to the God of Plague: Chairman Mao’s Campaign to Deworm China

Year: 2016

Author: Miriam Gross

Farewell to the God of Plague reassesses the celebrated Maoist health care model through the lens of Mao’s famous campaign against snail fever. Using newly available archives, Miriam Gross documents how economic, political, and cultural realities led to grassroots resistance.

Nonetheless, the campaign triumphed, but not because of its touted mass-prevention campaign. Instead, success came from its unacknowledged treatment arm, carried out jointly by banished urban doctors and rural educated youth. More broadly, the author reconsiders the relationship between science and political control during the ostensibly antiscientific Maoist era, discovering the important role of “grassroots science” in regime legitimation and Party control in rural areas.

Title: THE UNTOLD STORY OF YELLOW FEVER, THE EPIDEMIC THAT SHAPED OUR HISTORY

Year: 2006

Author: Molly Caldwell Crosby

Goodreads

Slave ships brought it to America as far back as 1648-and over the centuries, yellow fever epidemics plagued the United States. Carried along the mighty Mississippi River, it ravaged towns from New Orleans to St. Louis. New York City lost 2,000 lives in one year alone. It even forced the nation’s capital to relocate from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
“The American Plague” reveals the true story of yellow fever, recounting Memphis, Tennessee’s near-destruction and resurrection from the epidemic-and the four men who changed medical history with their battle against an invisible foe that remains a threat to this very day.

Title: Ethnographic Plague: Configuring Disease on the Chinese-Russian Frontier

Year: 2016

Author: Christos Lynteris

Goodreads

Challenging the concept that since the discovery of the plague bacillus in 1894 the study of the disease was dominated by bacteriology, Ethnographic Plague argues for the role of ethnography as a vital contributor to the configuration of plague at the turn of the nineteenth century. With a focus on research on the Chinese-Russian frontier, where a series of pneumonic plague epidemics shook the Chinese, Russian and Japanese Empires, this book examines how native Mongols and Buryats came to be understood as holding a traditional knowledge of the disease.

Exploring the forging and consequences of this alluring theory, this book seeks to understand medical fascination with culture, so as to underline the limitations of the employment of the latter as an explanatory category in the context of infectious disease epidemics, such as the recent SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

Title: Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film

Year: 2009

Author: Jennifer Cooke

Goodreads

This book is an account of the history and continuation of plague as a potent metaphor since the disease ceased to be an epidemic threat in Western Europe, engaging with twentieth-century critiques of fascism, anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Oedipal legacy of psychoanalysis and its reception, and film spectatorship and the zombie genre.

Title: Framing Animals as Epidemic Villains: Histories of Non-Human Disease Vectors

Year: 2019

Christos Lynteris (Editor)

Goodreads

This book takes a historical and anthropological approach to understanding how non-human hosts and vectors of diseases are understood, at a time when emerging infectious diseases are one of the central concerns of global health. The volume critically examines the ways in which animals have come to be framed as ‘epidemic villains’ since the turn of the nineteenth century.

Providing epistemological and social histories of non-human epidemic blame, as well as ethnographic perspectives on its recent manifestations, the essays explore this cornerstone of modern epidemiology and public health alongside its continuing importance in today’s world. Covering diverse regions, the book argues that framing animals as spreaders and reservoirs of infectious diseases – from plague to rabies to Ebola – is an integral aspect not only to scientific breakthroughs but also to the ideological and biopolitical apparatus of modern medicine. As the first book to consider the impact of the image of non-human disease hosts and vectors on medicine and public health, it offers a major contribution to our understanding of human-animal interaction under the shadow of global epidemic threat.

Title: Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary

Year: 2019

Author: Christos Lynteris

Goodreads

This book develops an examination and critique of human extinction as a result of the ‘next pandemic’ and turns attention towards the role of pandemic catastrophe in the renegotiation of what it means to be human. Nested in debates in anthropology, philosophy, social theory and global health, the book argues that fear of and fascination with the ‘next pandemic’ stem not so much from an anticipation of a biological extinction of the human species, as from an expectation of the loss of mastery over human/non-human relations.

Christos Lynteris employs the notion of the ‘pandemic imaginary’ in order to understand the way in which pandemic-borne human extinction refashions our understanding of humanity and its place in the world. The book challenges us to think how cosmological, aesthetic, ontological and political aspects of pandemic catastrophe are intertwined. The chapters examine the vital entanglement of epidemiological studies, popular culture, modes of scientific visualisation, and pandemic preparedness campaigns. This volume will be relevant for scholars and advanced students of anthropology as well as global health, and for many others interested in catastrophe, the ‘end of the world’ and the (post)apocalyptic. 

Title: The Spirit of Selflessness in Maoist China: Socialist Medicine and the New Man

Year: 2013

Author: Christos Lynteris

Goodreads

Assuming power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party was faced with a crucial problem: how to construct the socialist ‘New Man’? On the one hand, led by Liu Shaoqi, the proponents of the technocracy advocated self-cultivation. Led by Mao Zedong, their opponents advocated the exact opposite technique: the abolition of the self and the institution of a mass subjectivity.

Examining this conflict through the analytical lens of Foucault’s ‘technologies of the self’ and in relation to biopolitics, the book explores how the battle for the self in Maoist China revolved around the interpretation of the ‘spirit of selflessness’ as embodied by the heroic Canadian doctor, Norman Bethune, who lost his life as a volunteer doctor of the Red Army. The book narrates how, called to embody this selfless spirit, medical doctors were trapped in a spiral between cultivation and abolition, leading to the explosion of ideology during the Cultural Revolution.

Title: Plague, Quarantine and Geopolitcs in the Ottoman Empire

Year: 2012

Author: Birsen Bulmus

Goodreads

A sweeping examination of Ottoman plague treatise writers from the Black Death until 1923

Did you know that many of the greatest and most colourful Ottoman statesmen and literary figures from the 15th to the early 20th century considered plague as a grave threat to their empire? And did you know that many Ottomans applauded the establishment of a quarantine against the disease in 1838 as a tool to resist British and French political and commercial penetration? Or that later Ottoman sanitation effort to prevent urban outbreaks would help engender the Arab revolt against the empire in 1916?

Birsen Bulmus explores these facts in an engaging study of Ottoman plague treatise writers throughout their almost 600-year struggle with this epidemic disease. Along the way, she addresses the political, economic and social consequences of the methods they used to combat it.

Key Features

  • Studies the premodern ways in which plague was viewed by Ottoman Islamic thinkers
  • Traces the eventual Ottoman acceptance of quarantines and other modern medical reforms
  • Analyses international debates over plagues and quarantines as a struggle about colonialism

1472 – Our Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell (documentary 2012)

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timespace coordinates: cytoplasm at nonhuman temporal scales

Director and Producer: Mike Davis

Concept art: Tory Miles

Duration: 57 minutes

A documentary made for BBC Two in 2012 exploring the inner world of the human cellular structure via the narrative of a viral infection from within the world of a single cell.

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virus penetrating cell wall

UPS: Probably this documentary will be regarded as a total highlight of scientific motion graphics animation for some time to come. As of now, BBC Four was still screening it in 2019, a basic item in their science arsenal (already feeling infected by the militaristic jargon used throughout the production – but i will stop here with that).

Vibrational: Finally a documentary that takes into account the fact that all all molecular parts of the cell (not mentioning the atomic lattices) are under constant vibrational trepidation. Once could build on this vibrational metaphysics at work here at this biochemical molecular level and this movie makes it very clear for the first time. Especially the scenes with the star molecule (a bit too rash hailing it as symbol of the 21st c while it is so mid 20th c!) DNA. In the nucleus scene the details of the DNA helix are phenomenally alive, humming somehow under perpetual quivering. Most DNA up to this 2012 feature is depicted as forever static, chains of billiard balls rotating but never vibrating. Older 3D rederings introduce this assembly line movement and then always rotate along an invisible axis. This time the movement is basically incessant and blurry – showing how impossible it is to actually catch DNA at rest and make it visible for human eyes. This touch of realism makes the whole documentary one of my favorites.

Enough to think that all this prolific activity is going on all the time down there, and that the molecular recyclers, the membrane trafficking, the rotating mitochondrial rechargers or the busy rybosomal reading in and out activity is going all at this very moment, in all creatures and in all cells on this planet.

Most CGI work on biochemical processes is so much a question of promoting biochemical products, an outcome of pharma or big pharma pipelines trying to promote their products. I find it always welcome when a documentary does not function as a simplistic add-on illustration of a pharmaceutical add-on no matter how essential and life saving it actually is. At the same time it is always illuminating to see how such imagery makes the unseen seen and on what type of libraries or imagology it draws on.

The new cellular realism entails various accounts about its own artifice – the ways in which it is slowing down time or processes in order to make them visible, perceptible or even HD. One such process was the movement of cellular carrier (molecular machinery) across long immense scaffolding that spans the whole cytoplasm and support its internal architecture. Movement of 60 steps or so per second was slowed down to human level – at the same time the actual movement itself at normal (normal at the cell level) is blurry, another vibrational process that does transforms the step by step Sisyphus into some Flash – superhero speed.

Somehow these documentaries are the fallout of the molecular revolution which I think is bringing not only the star molecule DNA into the limelight but precisely cellular mechanism and the cell as such as well as the complexity of metabolic pathways that are not always traceble via genes (science of epigenetics or metabolomics).

A few notes on the wonderful work of Tory Miles. According to his website which I encourage you to check, it is his the first show he ever worked on. One more time we realize how important and valuable is the work of an artist (matte painter-concept art-environment art) for the illustration, understanding and making visible the invisible, hidden and out – of – this world landscapes. Goes without saying the role played by motion graphics and gaming. THE HIDDEN LIFE OF THE CELL could be seen as just gamification of biological processes and it still would brake boundaries in scientific illustration and imagining the invisible.

Also big pro for the fact that there has been a big con in choosing(no anthropocentrism intended) simplicity over complexity. Cells are just one direction while viruses and other simple parts went basic. Prions (misfolded proteins) or viruses do not suffer from their simplicity. They infect prosper on the back of growing complexity elsewhere or this is how I understand it. There is no shame in going half dead half alive as viruses manage to stay. You can be at this boundary zone when you are not too simple or not too complex and use this shapeshifting potential. The documentary makes this amply clear.

What he also makes clear from his website is the symbiotic relationship with speculative fiction and speculative biology and SF via other productions, influences and works. I found some on his page some proposals for the Protomolecule presented for the Syfy Channel success series EXPANSE (based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey). Altough final concept art was done by Canadian studio North Front, it is revelatory in this sense. Would be an interesting exercise to tease out the reciprocal influences of developing the ‘protomolecule’ and the actual epidemiological account of the infection of a cell by an adenovirus featured in The Hidden Life of the Cell. The protomolecule is both cell-generating, viral and of extra terrestrial origins as the fandom wiki explains:

The Protomolecule was created by extra-terrestrials around two billion years in the past, and launched as a one of the Bracewell probe swarm at a trajectories towards the stars harbouring planetary systems having conditions for the emergence and evolution of some molecular replication mechanism.[citation needed] Such replicators could be any powered by energy from chemical bonds, such as life based on carbon, silicon or other elements, and also by any kind of photons also or even radioactivity.

There is direct reference to phage (viral) mechanisms of the protomolecule replicator so there is some inherent virality to the both of them.

Also in relationship with the cellular CGI structures is mentioned the 2007 SF cult movie Sunshine by Danny Boyle. It is both a cosmic horror movie and one that has transformed the mission of reigniting the sun into something else akin to an initiation tale of solar burnout and cvasi-solar cult (also mentioned in recent The Lighthouse hit).

The cellar nucleus has the same dimensions and presence of a galactic core – at the same time is both clarifies how this sort of nucleus-centrism in the BBC documentary coincides neatly with our heliocentric image of a dying sun or a some star at the brink of going nova.

Not to mention the whole general alien aesthetics of this world, indeed we need more documentaries like this. There is the sense of incredible spaciousness, that makes the improbability of it all the more poignant. Everything bumping into each other, everything self organizing and still there is an incredible avalanche of timed effects, shapes and chemical bonds that shape them shape all actions in a bizarre orchestration of larger and larger assemblages. It is outer space and it is not. It is a sort of liquidity and viscous becoming that bathes everything into something almost oceanic and abyssal.

This inner and outer drift is what is the hardest to catch aesthetically I guess, the fact that nothing is really under the control of the central unit – the nucleus even if so much aimed at its inner data base. There is a lot of stuff getting in and out, but also a lot of parts, outside of the cell and inside of the cell that somehow manage to collude and act out outside of direct influence or control. There is no end to the alien realms out there even if most of it is CGI – the most incredible inflamationthing being how one can almost completely bypass new imaging flourescence techniques that are wonderful in themselves. These make at least at larger scale of bacterial and inter-cellular level things more vivid than ever.

DOWNS

Epidemiology & militarism

Throughout the features the cold war neo-Darwinian slang lies heavy. Yes, this is life when infections happen. Yes, we always seem to lack the proper metaphors, the nonhuman turn makes itself least sensible at these invisible, apperceptive levels, but it is most funny and frustrating how unavoidable and pervasive war – and war of all against all gets center stage. Not all scientist in the documentary proffer this dramatic mode of heightened description, but there is most certainly a kind of almost normal happen stance creepy ego shooter battle cry, almost making sure that every anti-body lock-on or surrounding every viral particle is a mine, a weapon, an attack, a deathly struggle. Everything seems to revolve around sacrifice and selfishness.

The pionering work done in immunology by Élie Metchnikoff and others is supported by a vision that had the organism as a living, inner/outer refashioning relation, of innate learning capacities and constantly developing system while in contact with the exterior. His discovery of intra-cellular digestion in flatworm paved the way to discovering phagocytosis, the fact that certain blood cells are actively destroying bacteria won him the Nobel Prize. Even if absent his shadows looms large. His fundamental breakthrough of inflammation as a boundary interaction and a directed action against host invasion by pathogens features large in this documentary. Metchnikoff was a Darwinist and atheist and also an early supporter of the larger role of the microbiome/holobiont and believer in the virtues of probiotics (Bulgarian yogurt) in prolonging life and preventing aging.

Also expect a lot of DNA centrism hailing, as mentioned above. Expect a restricted view focused just the human genome project (or any other species genome), never taking into account the non-human genes and microbial cellular assemblages that we have learned to appreciate only relatively recently.

As usual only the mitochondrial endosymbiosis powerhouse account escapes this war logic as well as the fact that almost all the pieces coexisted and co-evolved since the dawn of time. This ultimately brings home the realization that we are not witnessing just power blocks or absolute contraries at work but also complementary forces, tensions and divergences.

Yes, there is more gripping action and attention when there is talk of war, of conflicts of permanent arms race or egotistic units vying for supremacy. Still there is other ways of avoiding banality, bored viewers or easy simplification. So i wish they would have gotten more inspiration from indie games (not only graphically) but also conceptually, rather than the usual strategy war games.

Other big lack is the CRISPR-Cas9 system (revolution?) and its implications for the evolution of viral or bacterial interactions and evolutionary origins.

1444 – Elea (2018 video game)

timespace coordinates: Elea is a surreal sci-fi adventure game in which you play as space scientist Elea. In 2073, Earth was struck by a horrid childhood disease and Elea’s husband Ethan joined an expedition to colonize Solace, a habitable exoplanet, to save humanity from extinction. The interstellar ship he was on, Pilgrimage, went radio silent shortly after it reached planet Solace. Thirteen years later, Elea joins a recovery mission to investigate the faith of the expedition. What follows is a wondrous journey through space.

Elea is a first-person Sci-Fi interactive storytelling adventure developed by a two-person team from Bulgaria, Kyodai Ltd.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS (MINIMUM): Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system / OS: Windows 7 64-bit / Processor: Intel Core i3-4130 or AMD FX – 8320 / Memory: 6 GB RAM / Graphics: Nvidia GTX 650 Ti 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB / DirectX: Version 11 / Storage: 6 GB available space

steam