Future visions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2011, 12:00am


Futurism is a flawed art, as predictions are always derailed by a new discovery that changes the map. This is especially true as far as technology is concerned. But there are a lot of websites to aid the cinematic futurist. Many deal with humdrum platform issues - yes, we all know we can watch movies on an iPhone - but there are some sites that address more thought-provoking areas.

The Tribeca Film Festival's The Future of Film blog (www.tribecafilm.com/tribecaonline/future-of-film/) contains some interesting articles. Robert Rosen's 'Towards A Digital Aesthetic' poses some interesting questions even if the answers are underwhelming. 'Is it possible,' Rosen asks, 'that a younger generation of filmmakers and film viewers actually experience movie narrative in ways radically different from my own; differences not simply in matters of taste or subject matter, but, more profoundly, in the cognitive, intellectual and emotional processing of movie experience?'

While some would say that they simply make bad films, Rosen goes on to explore everything from narrative disjunction to self-reference in new Hollywood films. The article falls down because, as Rosen notes in passing, everything that the young, often digital, Hollywood filmmakers are doing has already been done by art-house filmmakers on celluloid.

On a more experiential level, holographic 'films' have long been the holy grail of futurist filmmakers. Who wouldn't like to walk around the set of a movie as it plays, as the Enterprise crew do on Star Trek's fully interactive Holodeck? Ideas to develop holographic film technology come and go with startling frequency. As theoretical physicist Michio Kaku (http://mkaku.org/) points out in his book Physics of the Impossible, holographic imaging is now a fairly commonplace technology, and functions efficiently with the use of lasers. But the amount of scientific research needed to turn this into a moviemaking medium is beyond the budget of most film companies. A good technical article on holographic cinema, dating from the 1970s, can be found here: http://www.vasulka.org/Kitchen/PDF_ExpandedCinema/part7.pdf.

For now, the viewer is stuck with 3-D. The technology has come and gone before, and often seems like a novelty to attract audiences into cinemas. Avatar director James Cameron can be found all over the net proclaiming it as the future of cinema. Cameron (http://science.discovery.com/videos/james-cameron-interview-the-future-o...) thinks TV will switch to 3-D at some stage and all filmmakers will have to use the format. The glasses won't be needed for small-screen viewing because of a technology called autoscopic 3-D. But goggles will probably always be needed for the big screen.

Other futurists, like those at http://www.zkm.de/futurecinema/, see cinema itself changing as much as the technology. Future viewing, they predict, will be a hybrid of cinema and the web.