Monday, 26 September 2011

Plug-in

An entry in the Glossary project

The concept of the plug-in in relation to the work of Nanneman and his contemporaries can be a confusing one, as various filmmakers of that era used the term to refer to different, albeit interrelated, concepts.

Nanneman used the term in asides to refer to third-party components that were incompatible with those provided within his Catalogue, i.e. any that weren’t included in it. Whether his use of the term indicated that he hoped that, some day, developments might allow for third-party components to be plugged-in to his own, or whether it intentionally evoked the negative connotations associated with electrical current since the (then still recent) scares in order to discourage such piggybacking, is not known. The implication in his contemporaries’ references to "Nanneman’s cross-eyed sockets" suggests they believed the former: that the idealist Nanneman wanted his components to be compatible with those built by others, but that however open his source, no-one else could make head or tail of it. (see also Operating System)

Harris Metcalf was, like Nanneman, interested in using the latest technological innovations to maintain a standard quality across his work. For him, a plug-in was a neural augmentation device that could be literally "plugged-in" to an actor’s nervous system to influence his or her technique. Safety issues aside, the main drawback to the Metcalfian plug-in was that the technology was not yet sufficiently advanced that it could actually improve the actor’s performance, but only degrade it to a given setting or crudely accentuate pre-existing attributes. Metcalf told a court:

"It is only by using my reductive plug-in method that you can ensure unity across the performance of your entire cast. In a sense, it is a lowest common denominator approach, as it ensures that no-one performs any better than your worst actor. In certain circumstances you may prefer to use plug-ins to highlight the performance of a key cast member, so that the entire cast is levelled out with a basic performance-quality plug-in, but the hero also runs a charisma augmentation plug-in parallel to this. Or, if a certain subsection of your cast are representing characters with non-British accents, they might use a common application to ensure their accents are no worse or better than each other, whist running the same core acting-method plug-in as those playing the British. It is a question of performance resolution: it is no good one actor being clear and another all grainy."

The notoriously fickle Nola Luna IV, whose technique during her brief digital period was to video each actor separately and then digitally composite the performances in post-production, used the term to refer to the removal and replacement of entire screen elements long after a film had been finished and had its first release: "By the time it comes to re-release a movie, the main actor may have lost his or her public appeal, through an unfortunate child abuse case or the disfigurement that comes with a bio-chemical assault, for example. When your actors weren’t actually interacting with each other or any of the digital props, sets or noises, how easy now to simply unplug the unwelcome actor from the original edit and clip on today’s hot thing. The same can be done with props and locations, for example a stick of carrot or memory can replace a cigarette, or a lovely garden replace an urban site that has since tactlessly associated itself with some terrorist atrocity or architectural hiccup."

Friday, 23 September 2011

Nola Luna IV

An entry in the Glossary project

A filmmaker and contemporary of Nanneman, Nola Luna IV’s style was openly trashy - although she preferred to term her films ‘entertainments’ or ‘invigorations’: the opening line of her only (unpublished) novel reads "They both loved industry, and hated abstract films about the aesthetics of industry." She was not always that way, however: her graduation film was a dense, disorienting piece titled A Running Race For Those Who Hate Music.

Luna was the great-great-grandaughter of the real-life historical figure of the same name, who was represented in the UNIVERSAL EAR episode A Flea Orchestra In Your Ear (portrayed by Briony O'Callaghan in the 2010 premake, below). Of Romanian descent, Luna IV lived her whole life in Manchester but only dated the Japanese.

Selected filmography: Furniture Of The Parasite, I Yearn For Yen (a.k.a. This Bastard Is Greedy), Lunatic Jeweller, This Isn’t Goodbye It’s Goodbyeeeee, Wh-what Are The Rules?, Witness To A Prang

Monday, 19 September 2011

Eyeline

An entry in the Glossary project

Questioned as to why it was so difficult to create the correct eyelines when lining up Catalogue-generated characters in dialogue scenes - from shot to shot and even within the same frame - Nanneman responded that of the 65, 536 character templates that his system had generated, it so happened that the majority of them turned out to be of a type that finds it difficult to maintain eye contact. Careful study of the sample scenes has indeed shown that in a large proportion of apparently mismatched eyelines, the characters portrayed are in fact very accurately looking at fluff on the other’s shoulder, the toes of their own boots, or a door handle in the background. Eyeline discrepancies between characters and objects were far rarer and can mainly be attributed to shortsighted or confused characters.

cf. The films of Harris Metcalf, who liberated the representation of eyes from the realm of physical realism, used eyeline angle as an expressionist device and whose characters’ unseeing eyes only ever met by accident.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Intern's Palette, The

An entry in the Glossary project

Having hunted, indexed and categorized his (revised) target of 16, 384 colours, Nanneman set the work experience boy the task of creating full back-stories for each hue. Given the vigour with which the unnamed teen took to his work, he must either have believed Nanneman’s lie-by-omission that the project was a genuine City Council task passed on by colleagues tired just by the scale of the project, or been enthusiastic and quite stupid as many of the happier of people are, or, as is most likely, some of Nanneman’s quixotic fervour rubbed off on him. Whatever way around, it was some feat for him to complete, as he did, biographies several pages long for each of precisely 256 colours in the two weeks before he was obliged to return to school. There are indications that Nanneman was all the same disappointed at the tiny dent made in the full spectrum of redestructivish colours and, given that his superiors refused him custody of any further work experience students, progress on further colour back-stories was sporadic. The work experience boy’s accomplishment stands therefore as the largest fully-documented colour range in the Catalogue, and it is from the informal name that this collection became known by that the phrase "the intern’s palette" passed into popular use to indicate a na├»ve and incomplete glimpse of a utopian new system within the breakaway department of an immoveable institution.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Character Type

An entry in the Glossary project

Nanneman was pressured, during a washroom encounter with his line manager, to keep to the latter's list of "16 character types (17 for an art-house film)" when designing the character-generating feature of his filmmaking kit. So as not to jeopardise the continued asssembly of the Catalogue - which had already been vetoed from above and which his line manager, having stumbled upon Nanneman's misuse of city council lab space by mistake, was by turns tolerating and interfering with - Nanneman ostensibly integrated his superior's list, but reduced each of the 16 broad 'types' to its key trait and generated 65,536 new character types by exploiting every possible combination of those qualities. (He excluded the arty 17th type for obvious reasons). The psychological complexity of these new redestructivish archetypes meant that Nanneman was able to create distinct imprints of every one of them using just two actors: himself and his second wife*. Every time one of these intricately designed algorithms was given a new name, wardrobe, haircut and surroundings he or she became a unique character (excepting the improbable eventuality of another filmmaker happening to choose the same type, name and look and putting this ‘new’ character into the same situation).

It is not known which 16 traits Nanneman divined from his line manager's original types, but we do know that he excluded any 'opposites' which might have cancelled each other out. Instead, Nanneman assumed that certain traits - e.g. faith - are an a priori human characteristic so included only their opposite - e.g. incredulity - amongst the 16 potential attributes: if a character lacked any one of the 16 'nurtured' traits he was assumed to have its opposite through nature. Whilst Nanneman acknowledged that such opposites don't always exist in pure dichotomy but on a sliding scale, he considered such nuances to be uncommon and irrelevant to the cinematic representation of human nature, certainly in a time when audiences needed reassurance, not speculation. In the circus and in the civil service, it had tended to be Nanneman's experience that people were one thing or another, and any apparent gradation in between usually boiled down to a case of deception or illness. Hanni, charged with finding "8 good rules" with which to shape the Nannemans' performanced blueprints of the thousands of archetypes Volodymyr had created, briefly looked into the old social networking websites, and discovered that everything Nanneman had suggested about human nature was more or less true. However, in response to the publication of Francis Dove's misanthropic Undepth In Real People And Those Who Believe They’re Real, Nanneman relented, creating a set of digital faders for the adjustment of the archetypes' character trait level-settings, allowing access to the middle ground between opposing traits. The knobs on the interface were all the same deliberately designed "stubborn" to discourage their use.

On discovering the zealous manner in which his underling had misinterpreted his original instructions, Nanneman’s line manager is said to have remarked that, the Nannemans having between them taken the time to create 65,536 characters, perhaps the unremittingly earnest Volodymyr should, from then on, himself be referred to as "Character Zero".

*(we know from his tattoos that she was called Hanni)