A Brave New Post: DOXA Know Future

Rob Easton Theresa Lalonde CBC Vancouver

It’s a big deal when I get to wear my Star Trek outfit. I used to just wear it to the bar when seeing bands in Sudbury. It was a fun and tangy crowd. No one asked me why because the mood was all about the why not?!

Fast forward fifteen years and I get to wear the red shirt to a Gala. This time it’s all about the why.

The event is the DOXA Documentary Film Festival Gala fundraiser called Know Future. It’s a celebration and an investigation of the nexus between science fiction and science fact. It will showcase innovative documentary makers who are exploring the connection.

This is a fun Gala with brains. Organizers asked me not just to introduce the evening and the special guests and urge people to bid at the auction, they also asked me to think about the theme and offer my thoughts for ten minutes or so with John Biehler. He is a future finding man who experiences much joy and creativity in technology. I’ve interviewed him many times and will do many more I’m sure..

John is talking about and showing off his 3D printer. It’s a brave new world of design and practicality. It does not make Earl Grey tea, yet.

I brushed up on my sci fi prognostication by listening to a CBC Spark podcast featuring professor Eric Rabkin. He says the only actual invention that came directly from science fiction was Marconi’s radar. Rabkin’s criteria states the science in sci fi had to be developed to the point we knew how it worked and apparently author Hugo Gernsback did that. (Is it just me or do most people named Hugo do great things?)

The bulk of what we get from science fiction instead is inspiration and design. And Rabkin believes some of the noted authors also tapped into government documents. (Cue X-Files theme.)

We see 2001 A Space Odyssey had Skype.  We now have driver-less cars. We have hypo-spray needles. Our soma is a smart phone and some of us have better suppliers than others. (I have a Blackberry.) We have a lot of gadgets inspired by Star Trek. See my CBC story. Kudos to anyone who gets the reference in my stand-up. (That’s a hint)

Most sci fi tends to focus on the tech rather than bio-science. I don`t recall seeing anything about splicing fish genes into apples in Space 1999. But there was all that alien encounter to keep the characters busy.

My take on whether sci fi inspires real science is more a question of metaphysics than particle physics. The stuff that actually gets invented says a lot about who we are as a society and who specifically is making it. In my view the dystoptians have it right. As much as I love all the hope for a better world (once you conquer greed), we are SO not there yet.

So what gets invented is what will sell. And you can bet it won’t work all that well. If it does, you won’t need to buy another one. In this way Toffler got it wrong. I’m still angry with Alvie. I had to read everything he wrote for Mass Communications in university and I was even convinced I’d be working part time and playing tennis the rest. But he didn’t factor in “bugs” in the machine and days upon days of fighting technology just to send an email or save a set of snaps of your kids.

I digress.

There will be clips shown at the Gala of a documentary about Futurist Jacque Fresco which addresses this very thing. The Technocracy movement is still moving ahead it seems. By moving I mean hoping.

And we need it. Without idealists there is no forward thinking. And without documentarists (or journalists) we wouldn’t know as much about it.

Speaking about speaking out, where’s the Babblefish? The universal translator in real life isn’t built to the spec we see on the big screen or read in the books. Bummer. But at least I get to wear a costume and dream.

 
 
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Heroes in the Streets: Aficionados in the VAG for FUSE

I get asked to go to places because of my job. To moderate a panel, to introduce or interview a special guest or to cover an event.

I don’t say yes to all of them. It has to be “in my wheelhouse”.

VAG Poster

The Vancouver art gallery

The Vancouver art gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FUSE is at a non-profit venue and put on by an organization that shares much of the same values as the public broadcaster.

And it’s going to be a blast.

I’m a fan of unique venues for novel experiences. I was at a bar (I think it was a bar) in San Francisco where many rooms offered different vibes. One room showed “South Park” on the wall while patrons propped themselves up on plush cushions. There was music, both live and spun, and interactive art of all kinds.

I’m imagining FUSE will be like that. But way better. (I mean, I don’t remember the name of the bar right).

I love the Vancouver Art Gallery building. It might not be able to display all its holdings at one time and its age troubles the preservationists, but it has got ghosts. Good ghosts.

And since FUSE started up in 2005 there’s no end in soul.

From what I understand reading and hearing about FUSE, it’s a big fun deal. A different theme each time with a different line up of DJs, live bands, dance, art, and innovation.

It’s free for members and from what Yelp reviews I’ve been reading, some people buy membership for these select Fridays.

You drink. You nibble. You look at stuff and you interact with stuff. There’s all that “seen and be seen” talk around it which usually turns me off. But this event looks way more clever and unpretentious than a gala.

Check out the line up:

The theme is Heroes of the Street.

And you can wear costumes. In this case, your favourite street hero. If I had time to get it together I’d go as the Twitter handle @streetcrow But not being that clever, I think I’ll just go in my civies.

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Apologies to the Shutterbugs

I don’t wait well. Never have.

Now I might. At least when it comes to the camera.

How many of you have had long awkward moments posing for a family portrait or more likely in my case, caked in make-up for a press pic, and you have to bite your lip to prevent an outburst of “What the hell are you doing SHOOT the picture!!??”

I’ve spent many nervous deadline days close to tears after getting a camera at the last minute. I beg the operator to forget the tripod, just go off the shoulder, and don’t light.

I was a silly silly girl.

Turns out manual camera operation takes planning. I thought I knew that before actually doing it myself but really, I had no idea.

It’s not the math. I like the trinomial challenge of exposure, speed and ISO. It’s arithmetic that makes sense because I can see it and change it.

It’s not the light either, I get light, and the rule of thirds.

I don’t get my camera. I have no idea why Nikon needs three buttons that all do the same thing.

But tech aside my big issue is turning off my frenetic mind. I have to find MY off button.

Most of the things I do well in life happen by happy random. When I’m really interested in something I get very fast at it. I get fast enough I can do something so many times there’s bound to be a good result at some point. It’s a more intuitive way to live and quite frankly more fun.

It adds the irrational element of magic into my work. Many radio documentaries I’ve done where made with mostly heart. Because I am so familiar with those tools perhaps, I don’t notice the head.

I love my “Intro to Digital” instructor. She’s both caustic and funny. And she’s drilling into me that I have to be methodical in manual or I’ll go nuts with all the choices. Find my method, and stick to it over and over and over again.

  1. Get a histogram you like depending on the tone of your subject.
  2. Adjust for amount of light either in A or S with the +1/-1 button or with the light meter in M.
  3. Bracket. Take the first photo then go up or down in exposure twice depending on tone. That way you have choices in post.
  4. Touch up or “cook” your photo your way.

I’m struggling. I can feel new neuropathways growing.

I always respected the camera operators in my life for their art. Now I think they are planning rock stars.

Here’s to years and years of slow careful photo-noodling.

And here’s a sample of my first homework assignment.

I call it “Peace Peppers”. It’s an homage to those arrested at APEC and the quote from our PM at the time that pepper is something he puts on his plate.

Okay that was total bull. I looked in my fridge in a panic the night before class and happily hoped for the best.

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