It was required that the Spectacle artifact would involve playing with reality, it would draw inspiration from one of the theories presented in the module, and it would not be a technical exercise.
The initial idea for the artifact was to show the spectacular display of the city by using the concept of the urban habitat. It would draw inspiration from Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ and his ideas about the unification of irreversible time, cut up into equal abstract fragments. Visually, it would be informed by the style in the film Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance.
The idea was never properly developed, the footage being produced in just one filming day – which, although well planned in terms of logistics, proved to not be well thought through when it came to relevance to the brief and the idea. Indeed, having such a strong visual inspiration as Koyaanisqatsi, would prove to be a big challenge – with a big chance of failure. The low quality of the footage, though technically satisfying, meant that the final artifact would not be of sufficient quality. What is more, having not properly developed the idea and not having planned how to execute it with the available resources would mean that its impact had to heavily rely just on the technical quality of execution. Not enough research was done, neither contextual nor logistical, which didn’t help the process either. Indeed, the piece relied on a few visual ideas which had already been heavily explored and looked at by the author and her peers, resulting in the piece not being able to meet the intended audience’s expectations and to hold their attention.
Relating it back to the Koyaanisqatsi inspiration, it would have been beneficial to add more visuals of buildings and not just people and vehicles – as indeed, one of the strongest points in the film is the almost pervasive presence of the buildings, which seem to be living their own lives in this urban habitat ‘within the host of technology’ (Reggio 2003).
Reflecting on the choice of music for the artifact, it didn’t move the piece forward. What is more, the music track used is too intense, taking the viewer’s attention almost entirely. In contrast, when asked about the process of writing the Koyaanisqatsi score, composer Philip Glass specifically mentions the importance of minimal sound:
It’s about observing accurately the distance between the image and the music.
The reason we don’t like commercials is that there’s no place for us in them.
Something that was relatively successful in the artifact was the use of the time concept, and the reference to the two ideas: ‘the unification of irreversible time’ and ‘time cut up into equal abstract fragments’ (Debord 1994). These two references were well presented through the technical execution and even if unaware, the viewer is very likely to feel the use of rhythm, repetition, and reversing of time to get the point across.
In reflection, attempting this idea and not developing it properly meant that the ambition couldn’t be combined with appropriate, realistic execution. The gap between intention and final result was too big, leaving the author with a weak artifact. It is likely though that this was indeed her limit in attempting such a piece at this stage, and she might need to improve her development and production skills in order to attempt the idea with a satisfying result.
Debord, G. (1994) La Societe du spectacle; The Society of the Spectacle, trans. D. Nicholson-Smith, New York: Zone Books
Glass, P. (2003) ‘Essence of Life’ Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance. S.l.: MGM Home Entertainment
Reggio, G. (2003) ‘Essence of Life’ Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance. S.l.: MGM Home Entertainment