Thursday, 14 June 2007

Walking the Dog

I watched a film last night – Daft Punk’s Electroma – which raised the question, is a failed artistic endeavour any better or worse than a successfully produced piece of junk?

The story of two robots on their quest to become more human, Electroma started indulgently enough with about fifteen or twenty minutes of a car driving along. This is okay. You can start something with these kinds of shots as they set a mood. In this instance, the Californian highways and hills set up a notion of starkness, aloneness – this is a modern road movie. Then the film suckered myself and the friend that went to see it – it looked great for one particular scene, as the robots are applied with flesh coloured goo and prepared for humanization.

After that, in a tiny, uncomfortable cinema, we sat and watched someone steel away with our lives, as the two robots walk. And walk. And walk. And walk. And…you get the picture. For 75 minutes of film, it is no exaggeration that after the fifteen minutes of driving, there were probably fifty minutes of walking.

Should it have been an art instillation? Something that people could freely walk in and out of and catch moments of? I don’t know or care. All I care about is that I sat in a small and uncomfortable cinema to watch people walking, something I could have done from a sofa in a coffee shop, and have been able to read a book, do a crossword puzzle or something, anything.

Back to the question. Should we be as less angered by wasting our lives on something like, say, Big Momma’s House (the example my friend raised)? Should Electroma have any more respect for trying to be something? Should those involved feel equal amounts of pride for putting as much effort into what they have done, even if the results are x1 nice looking film about robots walking and x1 dreadful film about a black man in a fat suit?

Art needs to exist, and people should be free to express themselves. There is something in the human make-up that means that expression of ideas and inner thoughts is and always has been there, and we are all free to chose that which we want to consume/imbibe/intake these expressions. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I just watched robots walk for fifty minutes, in a small, uncomfortable cinema.

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