Life, Technology and Art.
I turn 51 today, I cast my mind back and look at the role technology has played in my own life. The first TV I remember watching was “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”, filmed on some tropical location. I was probably 5 or 6. My first instinct (I’ve been told) was to remove all my clothes and attempt to climb into the TV and onto that monochrome beach. So you could say I was sucked in from day 1. From that time on the TV and I had a special relationship.
My favourite Aunt gave me a plastic DIANA brand still camera (which was the Hong Kong rip off of the Kodak), film and processing was expensive so you took lots of care with every shot). I was hooked, I dreamt of having slide projectors, Hasselblad’s and exotic darkrooms.
Then sitting up late at night with my Dad watching the live APOLLO moon landings. Sci-Fi was everywhere and it inspired you to think in that way, “everything was possible” We were all Sci-Fi mad, Thunderbirds, Star Trek, Space 1999, Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, and Kubrick. As a teenager I dreamt of devices and systems that were technologically impossible at the time. Trapped here in Australia, in what seemed to be a cultural wasteland, the TV brought news of so many advances in society, science and technology.
Three things of significance occurred in the seventies firstly STAR WARS arrived; secondly I acquired a super 8-movie camera. Even though DR WHO and the BBC had been doing it for years, STAR WARS reaffirmed on a mass scale that Sci-Fi could be grungy, rusty and eroded. I made movies, models, animation and special FX, which resulted in a number of minor explosions in my Dad’s garage. Finally I realised that to “make art” and “relieve suffering in others” were the only true and noble lifelong quests.
I knew I wanted to dream and be creative and through the lens of photography I was lured into and possessed by the world of Film and Cinema, actually I took a wrong turn in a college stairwell, on the way to sign up for the photography major and found myself talking to an animator, which changed everything and made me into one of those people who make the TV ads, cartoons and movies. Bolex, Apple, Intercine, Steenbeck, Arriflex, Kodak, Pentax, Sony just to name a few, these brands of technology have directed and contoured my life. One’s pursuit of money as a filmmaker was never for personal riches, it was so you could get your hands on, rent or buy, better and better technology, many times we would spend all the profits from a TVC on a new lens, light or computer.
In the early 90’s, I recall we had produced a 30 sec piece of animation on a computer, for a short film I was making called “The Other Room” it was a flying path through a virtual maze, It took us about 8 months to complete it, often we were waiting for bigger storage systems to become available, but the digital to video transfer time for the 30 second piece altered from 4 hours @ $240 per hour to real time @$240 per hour in that short period. That’s how fast thing were changing. Fortunately I was never absorbed by mundane technology like cars and domestic appliances, it was always the expensive exotic stuff I was after, Stedicam, Panavision and a like.
I have explored these technological realms; it has been interesting and good.
It has allowed me to make art both strange and nice, through advent of digital technology like the Internet, digital video, solar power, computers, photographic technology I realised many of my impossible teenage dreams, like exotic darkrooms, movies and buildings in the course of my life. Today social media is the new frontier, it allows us to collaborate and create content like never before. I look forward to the next 50 years knowing that my imagination is having a hard time keeping up with the current rate of technological progress.
How has technology affected your life?