Video is a cup. Film is a cup. The word is a cup. You don’t drink the cup.

November 18, 2020

Something about the season and the light and the weather and the vague uncertainty around almost returning to eased restrictions - we’re in a liminal space, standing on a dozen shores.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone walking backwards down the street.

October 7, 2020

I have felt fear before. The struggle will not end today so, if I am lucky, I will feel this fear again. This fear is the threshold of progress. This fear is a gate we walk through and know the peace of good action.

October 6, 2020

20201006 LINKS

Violence with racists is inevitable. But there are enough of them, and they have enough guns and support from the state that we cannot defeat them on military terms alone. Confronting them on the streets is important, but in the long term we must also try to convince some of them that their commitment to whiteness only subordinates them to the bourgeoisie. This will be a slow, difficult, even dangerous process, but it can be done.”

Theses on the White Proletariat White people, like all people, are divided by politics and class. These divisions were revealed through the recent uprisings, which showed us that there are whites who are willing to go the distance, and there are whites who are willing to violently defend capitalism and the state./ We need a revolutionary strategy for white proletarians not in spite of, but precisely because of their racism. Enrolling the white proletariat into a white supremacist alliance has been a crucial tactic of American capitalism, for the simple reason that white workers have always been the largest demographic in this nation. A successful proletarian revolution requires breaking up this alliance./ The white proletariat has revolutionary potential, but this potential is simultaneously inflected with racism and anti-Blackness. This contradiction takes the form of a civil war within the white proletariat. This civil war is defined, on the one hand, by solidarity with the rest of the proletariat, and on the other hand, by whiteness./ The so-called white outside agitator’ is the name for a living creature who breaks the spell of a united white bloc of civility, protocol, and allegiance to capitalism and the state. It reveals that there are white people who are not invested in whiteness./ As more white race-traitors emerge, they too will be hunted down and murdered. In this sense, law and order is not only about disciplining Black and Brown proletarians but also white race-traitors. This is the revolutionary fate of all proletarians who pose a threat to the racial order./ The white proletariat is not frozen. It can change, evolve, and break from its history of settler colonialism, racism, and imperialism. We need not entertain romantic illusions in order to see this. Actual people make revolutions, not saints and angels./ The historical moment that sheds the most light on the current white proletariat is the era of the Civil War. This history powerfully informs the trajectory of what will come. The Civil War and Reconstruction are the unfinished business of this land. Only crisis, civil war and revolution can smash the alliance between the white proletariat and capitalism.

There is a lot of abstract and shallow accounting of how whiteness is to be overcome through guilt, self-sacrifice, charity, and interpersonal behaviors, but the clearest road ahead is when whites join the mass struggle, fight the police, burn cop cars, burn police stations, burn courthouses, burn department of corrections buildings, and commit their bodies to the uprising.

With this approach, the age-old question of will we have enough GDP in a degrowth scenario to provide for thriving lives?” becomes irrelevant. We can generate the funding for public services and the job guarantee without even a thought to GDP. GDP becomes an irrelevant indicator. Indeed, parts of the economy that are presently measured by GDP might shrink, but that’s okay because GDP is not the primary arbiter of provisioning. In the scenario I have described, the majority of provisioning is done directly. So, exchange-value (GDP) might decline but use-value (access to the things we need to live well) improves.

This leaves us with an interesting point. MMT proposals align elegantly with one of degrowth’s key observations, namely, that if growthism depends on the perpetual creation of artificial scarcity, then by reversing artificial scarcity — by providing public abundance — we can dismantle the growth imperative. As Giorgos Kallis has put it, capitalism cannot survive under conditions of abundance”. MMT provides an opportunity for us to create a post-growth, post-capitalist economy.

October 5, 2020

20201002 EDGE OF TOMORROW As Sequences

Establish starting role of hero as pro persuader
Inciting incident: being solicited to go to the front lines
Contest leads to being sent in worse conditions, the guise of a deserter
Introduced to supporting characters, people who have power over hero in new circumstances

Initial attempt and failure to win battle
Main incident: the time loop begins

Playing with time loop and testing limits
Developing incident: meeting mysterious figure who seems to know about whats happening (Rita), and invites collaboration

Trying to reach Rita
Closure on mechanism and establishing rules of time loop
New objective created: find the Omega

Iteration training and trying for new objective
Finally accomplish stage 1 (get off the beach)
Make it to open road in a car

Character revelations and tension in car and at cottage
Leads to stronger relationship between Cage and Rita
Rita dies
Cage decides to fight alone
High point: Cage finds supposed Omega location but it’s a ruse and a trap

Reunion with Rita
New objective: find the Omega’s real location
Get locator maguffin from General and learn Omega location
At the cost of time loop power

The Last Hurrah: Escape and recruit squad to assist
Get to general objective area
Squad die
Rita and Cage accept their deaths, Cage is finally a soldier
Victory at the cost of lives
Through good luck Cage gets to time loop again
Brief denouement, implying possible heroic romance

All of the plot drama is based around travelling to a place, or acquiring an object. Most of the momentary drama is based around staying alive/avoiding arrest. Some of the momentary drama is based around persuasion. These persuasion scenes stand out: avoiding being sent to the front by the general, convincing the sergeant of Cage’s officer status, asking Rita to not fly the helicopter, persuading the general to share the locator maguffin, persuading J-squad to join the last hurrah.

Those first three do not lean on foreknowledge afforded the hero by their special status and so are more thrilling in their uncertainty.

October 1, 2020

20200930 How I Did The Ark Lockdown Promo Art

So I thought I was going to be doing a basic render for a lighting pass and then paint over it, but I quickly realised that my painting sucks too much to be able to execute that quickly.

This was a commission and normally you would do at least one thing you’d done before when delivering on a job, right? Not this time. This was my first complete Blender modelling project and my first Deep Dream thing.

Here’s how we did it:

Step Zero: Thumbnailing I new pretty quickly that I wanted to do an opposing perspective to the original card art. If they go low, I go high.

Step One: The Modelling (two and a half days work, three days of inhaling tutorials) I had used Blender briefly in 2011. It was rough entry and I bounced off it then. Earlier this year, some friend-animators from my workspace were extolling the joys of v2.8 and its accessibility. After getting across a bunch of Maciej Kucera and Onepixelbrush and Ash Thorp content about kit bashing and concept work last year I figured worst case, I’ll just buy some cheap models and smoosh them together”.

Turns out, modelling the Gila Hands Arcology was the most exciting art-thing I’ve done in ages. And I did it badly! But fixing those mistakes and learning new techniques to solve problems as I went was the perfect way to go. I’ll bake my donut later.

The drones and city were pulled from free .obj files online. They were decimated (what a cool tool!) and remodelled and extended.

I’m keen to properly model a bunch of Android universe stuff so that people can get do this same thing themselves, if they like.

I love how hard and scientific 3D can be too. Finally, something that actively uses all of the parts of my brain! Good to be a polymath!

Step Two: The Collage & Dreaming (one day) So yeah, I couldn’t paint, but I knew that other Netrunner artists had, highly thematically, been working with Deep Dream tech. After dating around some different online neural network art tools, the Deep Dream Generator proved the most versatile and effective. I had to sign up to the Patreon to get a higher resolution output but that seems fair enough. I can imagine that being able to put a cap on the different supporters at each tier allows them to temper the demand on their robot art brain.

The texture and colour images were sourced from work on ArtStation of similar subjects in roughly similar lighting conditions. There’s a lot of scope to try hard here, and/or in the next step.

I figured what I did here was fair uses since you would have no idea what the source imagery was unless someone told you. It’s almost impossible to prove someone used your work in this sort of thing. Fully expect someone to make a copyright claim use of their original art in another AI art and have it go big in The Discourse for a minute or two before people go back to the rampant theft that typefies modern creative work.

Step Three: The Tweaking (one hour) So it turns out that cleaning up the quirks of DDG is very possible in Photoshop with distortion and retouching tools. I highly recommend it. Also, doing a few different colour DDG renders and overlaying heavily featered masks works nicely too.

Step Four: The Design (half day) The templating of the card was based off the FFG promo for another operation: BOOM!

NISEI don’t share their toys so I had to make my own graphic assets from scratch. The main points where this slowed me down were the faction logo and the card cost. We survived though.

The HB logo is just the faction acronym in Eurostile (font of the future!) and was originally supposed to just be a place holder. Turns out, like all things in Eurostile, it has a really nice carriage (in the general sense) to it and it matches the reference form closely enough that it plays as is.

As a filthy modernist, I stuck with a flatter and cleaner look than FFG used, and flatter still than NISEI. There is some skewmorphism on the card cost/credit portion of the card. To the familiar, it’d look kinda weird without it. I went with a diamond rather than a circle for the credit cost circle break because it leans closer to the FFG credit symbol. Otherwise, I like the way NISEI adapted the iconic FFG card cost form.

The faction cost gave me a headache at first. I was trying hard for some bevelling and sine on the influence pips but, in the end, the low scale of it that I was struggling with made it clear that clarity itself was the name of the game. Less is more. Especially with high contrast colour blocking.

Brushed metal textures over the text backgrounds because they’re the engineering and minufacturing faction.

Falvour text to be COVID relevant by yours truly also. Was tempted to go with Now, more than ever…” or We’re all staying at home, together, so we can stay together.” Or one of those nonsense pro-unity word jumbles (though I do honestly love some social unity).

Final Thoughts This would be much faster to do a second time, since all of this was very exploratory. I like the workflow. I like that being a Blender hero makes everything so many things possible. And I like my card template. Don;t be surprised if I do some more custom Netrunner art.

September 30, 2020