1503 – Devs (TV mini-series 2020 – )

Director: Alex Garland

“A computer engineer investigates the secretive development division in her company, which she believes is behind the disappearance of her boyfriend.”

Alex Garland that left quite an indelible mark with his Annihilation and Ex Machina is now back with a Hulu (FX on Hulu) series largely about quantum computing, the fabric of reality, alternate history, Silicon Valley, affects and technology. It is also true that this base realty of the Silicon Valley has somehow (at least BC/ Before Corona) come to crowd out every other reality. I want to briefly highlight what struck me most about the series, it is a very mysterious, vague, eerie episodes that play with non linearity and temporal paradoxes, so a plot-line synopsis will completely miss the mark. I am also thankful that it avoids all the boring old determinsm-non determinism discussions and all the free will dead alleys. What is more important is what is left unsaid, or where one can extend and speculate with and around this series. It looks and feels in a certain way, which is definitely a lack in most your run-of-the-mill Sci-fi’s. The closest I can think of is the wonderful noir Cold War Sci-fi 1973 World on a Wire by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In my mind it almost picks up where the other one left.

Devs could be all matter of things, I had good friends who recommended the series (big thx to that) speculating about the title of it even, so I am not gonna continue that venue here. Also no major spoilers I hope.

  1. It is first I think a quant (?!) entrepreneur space, before it is a quantum computing space hosting the ideas and the very hermetic, secretive environment where the possibilities of quantum computing are slowly emerging as the each episode slowly. It is almost a chosen self-image of West Coast Institutes and Tech Giants. But instead of lofty, Alphabet (Google) AI golems, it’s rather the particular circumstance – it is animated by intimate loss close to home. I can see that it is inspired and could in its turn inspire (fictional?) the design of future enterprises. It also illustrates the quasi- sacral character of such a re-search lab, the secretive self-absorbed atmosphere, where the toughest and most brutal number crunching meets contemporary art meets gnostic ideals, where each level of access or mystery is approached with kabbalistic reverence mixed in with the most vulgar, violent and bloody means.
  1. It incorporates what Eric Davis (Techgnosis) and others have highlighted, when recognizing that such secular Institutes and limited access facilities exude an almost monastic air, and the more lowly or titillating and profane its actual results, aims or content, the more it speaks to us in tongues. It also speaks of the banality of access & time travel, of surfing history, of prying into the wounds of the past. Its stark, minimalist, highly aesthetic look is a statement of the whole rapture of the nerds maybe. It might be repulsive, sterile but it is what it is, it is made in the image of its maker. And the maker needs to inhabit this floating, suspended fractal golden cube. At the same time this detachment from the lowly, from matter, even its dealing with bodies that are burned, suffocated, drowned speaks about a certain fury applied, a violence suffered and thrown at the flesh it needs to instantiate in order to surpass. It is almost as if bodies have to be martyred in order to achieve any measure of earthly detachment or technological success.

2. Same time there is some incredible almost melodic, tonal interplay of sentiments, they are not just attachments for the audience to approach such a difficult subject, in fact one can feel how these affects that seem almost autonomous, a shadowplay of research into abstruse knowledge. Affects intervene, subtend & promote actions, also interfere, flash forward, move around and lead the whole highly abstract endeavor. What I like is its lack of theoretization, its sub theorizing. Of one needs further metaphysical trajectories one cam search it elsewhere. Devs is almost a key illustration of Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford have (in more philosophical terms) boldly posited in their path breaking 2018 book – a third modality (“dispositional modality” DM) or tendency, beside the other two – necessity and possibility.

Weird naturalism (to pick on another term employed by E Davis) or weird aesthetics (to use Steven Shaviro’s phrase) is full of such vague incentives, a lure that leads nowhere or to something else, where the affective drive breaks loose, ways in which theyaare effective not only as anchor points of personal history or quest but as oscillating, flipping over constantly into impossible reaches and improbable planes, madness and make believe, false leads and unfinished plans. The most normal, the most homely feels made up in a way that the candy and endearing 1990s schematic VR, especially in movies and musivc videos never made the real feel. It maybe started then, but now every vintage furniture or lighting feels artificial, highly composed and rendered (not surreal in the old sense) but nevertheless compelling and etherReal.

imdb / science fact or science fiction

1491 – Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (2018)

a documentary by Arwen Curry

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. Viewers will join the writer on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, opening new doors for the imagination and inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, the Berkeley Film Foundation etc (description taken from the original website of the documentary)

The documentary is truly one of the best I have seen dedicated to an author, the more to such an incredible and inspiring one such as Ursula K LeGuin. Take some time to explore her website https://www.ursulakleguin.com/

One of the best documentaries about Sci-Fi indeed and one to carefully and attentively thread along and listen to one of its most cherished authors. It wanders elegantly from personal life, the landscapes that shaped her novels, the childhood memories, her rise and response in Sci-fi fandom and canon, her relation, acknowledgment and understanding of the first nation people genocide in the Americas and in particular her knowledge of indigenous peoples of California.

It also combines some really great animation work that blends in very well with her world building. There are in fact very few movies based on her actual work.

To her previous mentioned works I would like to add The Lathe of Heaven about dreaming and the universe (also a movie) and the wonderful short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Also mentioned in the documentary is her 1985 experimental work Always Returning Home written and situated in the Napa Valley, a speculative anthropology works and tapes made by a future ethnographer and anthropologist Pandora with the rituals, the musical instruments, chants and language of a post-apocalyptic people named the Kesh, a sort of anarcho-primitivist tribe that combines elements of hunterer-gatherers, agricultural and industrial civilization while rejecting city building.

1469 – KUSO (2017)

Kuso 2017

KUSO is an incredible, metaphysical splatter and body horror movie by Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus.

Kuso means ‘shit’ in Japanese.

Steven Ellison has been a long time admirer of Japanese extreme directors Takashi Miike, Shinya Tsukamoto and Takeshi Kitano, as well as lots of anime such as Cowboy Bepop, Evangelion, Dragon Ball, that he openly mentions in his interviews. But instead of mentioning Tokyo Gore Police of Meatball Machine Kodoku one should go see it without any list of references or any direct references.

Probably one of the most over the top, original, gory, splattery significant movies of the early 21st century. It abounds in the resplendent hideous and the manically scatological, lavishes in all things festering, pustulant, always brimming on the ecstatic, experimental and transformative also due to its music video affiliations. There were mass walkouts at its release at Sundance festival. It has been all too easy to hail it as the ‘grossest movie ever made’. It is definitely a superb example of WEIRD AESTHETICS and slime dynamics nowadays and it is relentless. It definitely does not settle into the old sublime/beautiful binome, but ventures into the territory of new aesthetic categories such as the icky or the ‘zany’ explored by Sianne Ngai in her seminal text (Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting 2015). This is also an afro-body horror that makes clear what are the stakes here – full hybridization, exploding all the codes of racial science and white fear, those panic buttons of asepsis and so-called ‘miscegenation’ that did seek to actively separate, contain, incarcerate and experiment upon non-white bodies.

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It also makes clear there can allow for incredible pockets of abstractness even in the midst of all things squishy, oozing, overwhelming thingness, overripe wetware imagery. There are dozens of scenes that are filled with incredible tenderness, nonhuman, and inhuman eroticism, beauty and exuberance for the unruliness of matter and information, the normality and mundanity of the strange and at the same time does not cease to take one by surprise, to be completely unpredictable. A relentless channel surfing seems to transect the whole movie and tap into the virality of pay-per-view ads, broadcasting enormities and deformities, diving into an attention ecology modulated by the appetite for mindless violence and remorseless voyeurism.

An increasing portion of current media abounds in the biohazardous, the panic-stricken, horrifying, the untouchable, impure, the dirty, repulsive or what was even considered previously as evolutionary blasphemic and maladaptive – here cherished in its most unruly and in your face forms. It also draws on avant-garde Berlin Dada photomontage artists such as Hannah Höch(see her Knife Dada through the Beer-Belly of the Weimar Republic 1919 for example) seeking to upend and agglutinate existing dichotomies and gender roles.

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There is no way one can summarize this movie and this is its best proof of not bowing to matters of taste, plotline narrative rule or formal rigeur. There are incredible collage animations as well as tableaux vivants – real outer world (exo biological?) ecosystems, mutant dioramas and curious and explorative human -non human relationships. Meanwhile, all the body fluids run their course.

On TV or in a bedroom reality welcomes the bubonic, the chronic carrier state of patient zero becomes the rule. There is no quarantine for the realness of constant touch, smear, sporulation. The epidemic is somehow a state of matter, it is as it is, nothing can hide it, disinfect it or banish it to the pathological. There is always a sort of teratogenesis as world-building going on. There are interdimensional furries stoners on a couch, there are alien jungles with anal flesh flowers and sentient sphincters.

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Openings are important in KUSO and lead to revisiting what we have considered a final story – the evo-devo metanarrative of why we bipedal vertebrates are here, why we have an up and down or a clear separation btw the excretory and all the plurivocal portals of bodies that have multiple backs and unknown forwards, not just an up mouth and a down mouth.

Cast: Iesha Coston, Oumi Zumi, Zack Fox, The Buttress (Bethany Schmitt), Tim Heidecker, Hannibal Buress, Regan Farquhar, Shane Carpenter, David Firth

here is a more in-depth review  by addictedtohorrormovies.com

Here’s what IMDB has: “Events unfold after a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles.” Events indeed. The movie is broken up into three segments. The biggest segment, “Mr. Quiggle,” is the story of couple Kenneth and Missy, who have their active love life interrupted by Missy’s secret shame. Also, Manuel is scared of breasts, so he enlists the help of Dr. Clinton (George Clinton); his treatment involves singing into Dr. Clinton’s butthole and…I won’t spoil it for you. Further also, The Buttress and her alien buddies deal with her situation of being impregnated by a crazy stalker guy.

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imdb

1305

the adjective “real” is ambiguous; it has a thousand meanings. The verb “to exist” has even more. (1314)


What dream among dreams is reality?