“The whole ambition of the picturesque was to rework the natural world into a ‘landscape’ – a word that came to England at the end of the sixteenth century
from the German, via the Dutch. Early English uses of ‘landskip’ are strongly cultural – the word is used to describe paintings,
particularly the backgrounds of paintings, and thereby any view that could conceivably be painted.”
“The picturesque encouraged the critical appreciation of nature as a spectacle. Observers of a scene – the word ‘scene’ itself reveals the implicit theatricality of viewing – became an audience, by turns appreciative or critical.
Hence natural landscapes became part of culture, and were understood, judged, and painted according to artistic conventions and aesthetic theories.
For a growing proportion of the increasingly urban population, initial encounters with natural landscapes would be through the medium of art: representations delivered either by pastoral poetry or in picturesque images.”
‘In grand scenes, even the peasant cannot be admitted, if he be employed in the low occupations of his profession: the spade, the scythe, and the rake are all excluded.’ What was allowed was pastoral idleness: the lazy cowherd resting on his pole . . . the peasant lolling on a rock’, an angler rather than a fisherman, and gypsies, banditti, and the occasional individual soldier in antique armour. The image of the countryside presented therefore looked very much in need of improvement – slack, inefficient, indigent, lawless, and archaic. Moreover, once ‘improved’ the landscape was likely to be as empty of agricultural labour as the picturesque depicted it since nearly all the peasantry would have been forced off the land.
spacetime coordinates: near future Norway / NebraskaDownsizing is a 2017 american science fiction / high-concept social satire / comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, written by Payne and Jim Taylor and starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig. It tells the story of a couple who decide to undertake a newly-invented procedure to shrink their bodies so they can start a new life in an experimental community.
Starting with Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, there exists a rich literature as well as many films dealing with mini-humans usually called dwarfs. The idea of shrinking human bodies in order to reduce the consumption of raw materials available on earth necessary for the life of mankind was presented for the first time in the novel Das Miniatom-Projekt (2006) by Richard M. Weiner. In the novel the miniaturization takes place at CERN by decreasing the sizes of atoms with the help of the world’s biggest particle accelerator, while in the Downsizing film the shrinkage is performed by bio-medical methods, by decreasing the sizes of cells.
spacetime coordinates: 1892–1973 Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
An obscure janitor during his life, Darger is known for the posthumous discovery of his elaborate 15,145-page fantasy manuscript entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred watercolor paintings and other drawings illustrating the story.
The film’s style is atypical of a documentary. Because there are only three known photographs of Darger, and because of his reclusive lifestyle, the film is mostly a narrated biographical account, accompanied by animated versions of events from his magnum opus, which is also surveyed in detail. Interviews with his few neighbors and other acquaintances are included.
In the last entry in his diary, he wrote: “January 1, 1971. I had a very poor nothing like Christmas. Never had a good Christmas all my life, nor a good new year, and now… I am very bitter but fortunately not revengeful, though I feel should be how I am…”
After peaceful aliens invade earth, humanity finds itself living in a utopia under the indirect rule of the aliens, but does this utopia come at a price?