Category Archives: inspiration

Interview with Salman Rushdie

From The Independent:

Everyone, fan or foe, invokes their own imaginary Rushdie. We dream him up, and he duly takes shape: as blaspheming apostate for many still-outraged Muslims; as cocky subcontinental pseud for old-school British racists; as martyr to free speech for liberal literati. With the announcement of his knighthood, last June, this parade of straw men swelled to a seething carnival of prejudice and projection. From one corner, the pious haters swung into action: the parliament of Pakistan passed a motion against the honour as an insult to Islam. From another, the gossip-sheet haters seized on rumours of an impending divorce to renew their attritional campaign of “attacks on my physical appearance, as if I’ve ever invested anything in how beautiful I am”. From yet another, the kneejerk-leftist haters matched them all in bile: The Guardian ran a defamatory rant from a Cambridge English don that grossly misrepresented his books, his politics and his ideas with a recklessness that would shame a GCSE-level duffer.

“Truthfully, I don’t get it,” says this hard-working 60-year-old writer, clad in a writer’s comfy sweater, mulling over his burdensome double life as multipurpose scapegoat. “I just don’t understand it. I think I’ve led a serious creative life. All that I’ve tried to do for over 30 years is to be the best writer that I know how to be… It’s as if people don’t see that in some way, and that’s distressing.”

Life Before Death

German photographer Walter Schels was terrified of death, but felt compelled to take these extraordinary series of portraits of people before and on the day they died. His partner Beate Lakotta recorded the poignant and revealing interviews with the subjects in their final days.

Haven’t you seen these yet? Or at least read the article?

—–

There’s a lyric from a song I like:

Do you realise
that everyone you know someday will die
But instead of saying all of your goodbyes
let them know you realise that time goes fast.
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realise the sun don’t go down.
It’s just an illusion caused by the world
spinnin’ round

Do You Realise, The Flaming Lips

Vocaloid 2; Value from Efficiency; User-Generated Content distribution

I’m still impressed with the abilities of the Vocaloid 2 software (found via Boing Boing). Put in a melody and lyrics, and the software generates singing.

It sounds pretty good. Try this sample:

The opera sequence from Final Fantasy 6 — one of the most touching sequences from the best RPG I’ve ever played.

Watching this brought back good memories of the experience playing the game, and that’s partly what makes Vocaloid memorable for me.

The singing isn’t perfect — one comment remarked that the singer sounded like she’d a cold — but this is a technological factor. As coding gets better, so will the voices. But it may not matter — most people are willing to accept less-than-ideal quality media in certain contexts, compression codecs affect sound quality, and when you’re listening to music in a subway train, bus or car you can’t tell anyway.

The value of Vocaloid lies in how it flows with the trend for more user-generated content. It fits in nicely with existing distribution chains for user-generated content. Make a song with Vocaloid, overlay on a video file and upload to YouTube.

(Does it still make sense to call UGC a “trend”? Isn’t it already here and a part of our lived experiences?)

I’m also struck by how YouTube has become a music player although it began as a video-sharing site. This serendipitous use has been driven by the sheer ease of use and easy availability via laptops and widespread broadband.

Compare this with how people rarely used CD-based gaming consoles like the Playstation to play music. Clearly it was silly to turn on the player and a TV set to play music when it was much more efficient to use a CD player. Even a Discman with speakers plugged in was a preferable alternative.

So functionality is nice, but if it’s not efficient relative to current alternatives the functionality won’t add much value to the user.

Although Vocaloid is aimed at otaku, there must be similar groups that would buy such software.

Let’s consider characteristics of the otaku audience — predominantly teenagers, tech-savvy, relatively affluent and of course, a little obsessive.

Hmm… has anyone tried packaging Vocaloid for Christian rock fans?

Rebuild of Evangelion & “Beautiful World”

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorite anime series, and so I’m a bit unhappy over how Gainax so readily whores exploits the characters in a never-ending array of merchandise, the bulk of which is unrelated to the original series.

Yes, I know it’s just business. But still.

And so I’m ambivalent about Rebuild of Evangelion — four new animated movies that will provide an alternate retelling of the original story.

I’m comforted by the fact that Anno Hideaki is chief director, and especially by his statement that GAINAX isn’t controlling this. More reasons to hope that the movies don’t turn out to be hollow commercial fluff.

Utada Hikaru sings the theme song for the first movie: Beautiful World. I don’t know if this is a good sign or a bad one.

If you can read Japanese or you’re just curious, the Japanese lyrics are here

Ingmar Bergman R.I.P.

The end of an era. From the Guardian film blog:

Was Bergman in touch with the European mind of his generation? Perhaps he simply was the mind of his generation. Of the great post-war directors, he was the one who shouldered the burden of moral questions: is there a God? Is there a God who is exists, but is absent? Should we behave as if God exists, if we suspect he doesn’t? If he is merely absent for some unknowable millennial span, then how should we interpret this indifference, or this rebuke? And why, finally, does anything exist at all?

The Last Wayang – 31 Aug

Was browsing the pamphlet for the upcoming Singapore Art Show (which btw comes with special post-its attached) when this event caught my eye:

The Last Wayang

Situated at the disused Capitol Theatre, The Last Wayang provokes a reflection on Singapore’s old films.

Date: 31 Aug
Time: 7pm – 12am

I emailed NAC for more info:

The Last Wayang is a project helmed by Lasalle Masters students and graduates. It consists of video projections on the facade of the disused Capitol Theatre. One projection is of stills of old film posters, and the other is an MTV style video.

Below is an excerpt of the project description from the artists “The video comprises of [sic] images of past films and how they have contributed to the flourishing local films of today. The highlights will be done in a trailer / MTV superimposition to apply this contradiction of nostalgia and modern times. “

I often wish the Capitol would reopen as a cinema.

(earlier posts about the Capitol)