MATRIXSYNTH: A Failure of Imagination (i) // Shot on Fuji XT4

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Failure of Imagination (i) // Shot on Fuji XT4

video upload by Oblivion Corner

"Music by Cybersyn. Used with permission by Oblivion Corner.
Full Album available now:
For inchoate ramblings, read on ...

A cold concrete bench on a seasonably warm day is a slice of heaven. Add to that a location in a quiet corner and we are proverbially off to the races. This video features a track that was set to be included in a concept album about Cybersyn, a forward-thinking 70s antecedent to the internet and ‘big data’, being fictionally smuggled out of Chile just as the democratically-elected government collapsed due to the autocratic onslaught by brutal forces backed by the CIA and US corporations, named and unnamed, since those events. Thinking of what could have been is always a wistful exercise when it comes to technology.

This music imagines a form of progressive technocracy as the backbone of the technological developments that occurred in France throughout the 70s and 80s: high speed rail, space launch systems, interactive information systems accessible to all and a home computing revolution. The fictional machination of the album linked above imagines that all this national progress was enabled by the visionary capabilities of Cybersyn. Once more, it’s worth emphasizing that this is fiction. France did develop Ariane rockets, Minitel information terminals and the TGV high speed rail network but this was primarily thanks to the decisive actions of the government of the time which pushed these projects forward.

However, the idea of Cybersyn and the future it potentially augured has both a more sinister and melancholic side too. This is also represented in the music and visuals of this video. The influences here are two-fold, cinematic and literary. First of all, there’s la Nuit des Traquées (Night of the Hunted) the under-appreciated B-movie by Jean Rollin, starring the incomparable Brigitte Lahaie. The premise is that a nuclear accident has caused the emission of dangerous fast moving particles that have affected people in the surrounding area, causing amnesia and a loss of cognitive ability. A shadowy organisation has detained and subsequently relocates those affected to an ominous corporate skyscraper as the victims devolve into haunted animalistic shadows of themselves. Secondly, Les Forteresses Noires a novel by Patrick Grainville about a banker, a nightshift doctor, a sculptress and teenagers worshipping an odd assemblage of sewage rats. The common element here is that both the film and the novel are set in La Défense business district in Paris.

The location captured in this video is very much reminiscent of the architecture and solitary concrete corners of La Défense business district. The ominous nature of corporate architecture as well as the promise and paranoia of technology are the notions being conveyed here. However another idea that lies at the foundation of this music and album it was going to part of is “what could have been”. Namely, how would technology have evolved if at every fork the market forces of shortsighted thinking, cost-cutting and convenience had not been heeded. For example, what if Betamax had become the dominant video format of the 80s? What if France had pursued its homegrown CYCLADES network protocol instead of the X.25 based TRANSPAC standard? What if PC compatibles had never become as ubiquitous? What would the technological landscape look like now? This track and all the others featured in the album above (they will get their own videos in due course) aim to give a feeling of what that would have been like interspersed with the aforementioned intrigues and ideas.

This video was filmed with the Fujifilm XT4 camera using the Fujinon XF 23mm f2 lens.

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