We are approaching the end of 2019, the year in which “Blade Runner” (1982) takes place. Seems like a good time to check on the status quo and compare it with the ideas and visions which first came to life in Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968). His story got later on picked up and re-written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Michael Deeley (The Ladd Company). It revolves around a near future scenario which takes place in melting-pot Los Angeles. The world is a run-down place and those who can afford it, already departed for the “Off-World Colonies”. The plot involves replicants who are produced for slave labor on hostile planets to prepare them for us. Today we’d call that terraforming. Austrian born (Berlin resident) producer RNDM compiled the first, deeply moving audio, the “Off-World Mix”, built on my field recordings.
Deckard (Harrison Ford) who is put back on his job as a Blade Runner, hunts down replicants who are considered dangerous. Having developed the ability to build character and feelings, some replicants return to earth seeking for a longer life span by confronting their makers of the Tyrell Corporation. It turns out they are more decent and human than humans themselves and there is a threshold involved which leaves some characters as well as plenty of viewers confused about who is man and who is man-made. Interestingly and perhaps also because of bad timing at the oversaturated box office, it was not until quite some time (years) later, that this masterpiece was considered cult and became one of the most aesthetically appealing, relevant and influential sci-fi movies of all times.
Upon my first visit to Japan I immediately realized how close we have come to some of the predictions, looking at it from the technological, aesthetic and sociological angles and how far away we are from others. By collecting impressions in audio and image formats over a prolonged period of time, I was able to cover some interesting aspects, draw comparisons and find parallels. The seclusion of the Japanese territory paired with the nature of its people, makes it a good role model representing the globe as a whole, like L.A. did in Scott’s film. I am proud to have gained such outstanding musicians to participate and contribute to my vision by producing their interpretation of the topic, by building on my field-recordings. The growing album Dangerous Days can be streamed from Soundcloud. An official album release follows.
Thanks to Kepler we have indeed found an impressive number of earth-like planets which would be eligible for a move, for instance “Kepler 62F”. But at this point we have no clue how to ever get there or even explore our solar system in person. The currently closest thing to an off-world colony is the International Space Station. The ISS hosts a few permanent but constantly rotating “residents” who maintain our little space-lab up there while acting as peacekeepers. SpaceX (Elon Musk), Virgin Galactic (Richard Branson) and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) are new, ambitious and privately funded companies and have already surpassed ROSCOSMOS, NASA and ESA by years. They shine with revolutionary ideas such as reusable rockets which return to precisely the same spot where they took off from.
These players are eager to achieve significance and leave their mark in history. Yet they all exist because of a single invention which is so profound that it can easily be tagged as the game-changer of our time – the internet. It’s the nervous system of humanity and turned cyberspace into an everyday reality, offering endless possibilities even allowing us to travel without moving. But no-one is going anywhere far anytime soon except in one’s mind. Which leads us to a major downside of the information age because today we have reached a level already where thoughts and dreams are pretty much the only truly private spaces left. The question is for how much longer we can maintain those last retreats.
Consequently, instead of living secluded lives in vacant spaces in an expiring world, for us it all comes down to how well we manage things in an increasingly supervised, tight, sparse, stormy and aggressive world without an alternative at hand. Efficiency, resource and space management are the keywords of our time and I was impressed to see the masters of these disciplines at work. While Japan has its share of problems just like any other country does, it can provide smart solutions, being a nation where an inventive spirit meets engineering talent and a seemingly endless belief in technology. I had the impression they successfully evolved with respect towards traditions and generations. The co-existence of the old and new are among the striking parallels to Ridley Scott’s imagined outlook into 2019.
International Space Station, Kepler 62F: NASA
“Dangerous Days 01 | Off-World Mix”: Oliver Kargl aka RNDM (AT), Berlin
Photos, text, audio field-recordings: Oliver Lins (AT), Berlin
Dangerous Days 02 (Man/Machine) launching in December
With friendly support of the Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories
and UK producer Grimes Adhesif
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