360MC: – Inspiration and thoughts for Spectacle artefact

Building on from the ideas posed by Guy Debord in terms of the ‘Society of the Spectacle’, the theme of control and living in a fully mediated world is a fascinating concept; albeit one that has been reproduced a number of times. For example, The Matrix (1999) and its two sequels The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), directed by The Wachowskis, all borrowed heavily from key theorist Jean Baudrillard in terms of spectacle, and even used direct quotes from him throughout the films. One quote that perhaps sums up The Matrix the most is taken from Baudrillard’s book Simulations, where Baudrillard writes: “Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible.” (Baudrillard, 1983:38). This again harkens back to Debord’s argument that the world is controlled and constructed by media images, thus creating a false reality based around icons and mediated living. This was again reinforced by Baudrillard on ‘Simulacra’, which also theorised about the same issues.  The first Matrix film was and still is a spectacle in many terms of the word. It showcased groundbreaking special effects and action choreography that still holds up well today from a visual standpoint, yet also deals with complex themes of control, reality and the human condition. After watching The Matrix once again and reading into the themes, this element of a virtual and false-reality world is a fascinating concept, and one that everyone can be aware of.

The notion of the virtual world can immediately make one think of computers and/or video games. The ability of a games developer is to create a world that transports the player into a new world, putting them in the shoes of a new character and making them achieve a task – all of which is not real and is entirely constructed. This therefore has many comparisons with living life through the spectacle. We are not living in reality and we are an entirely media-constructed ‘individual’ that is also plagued by dominant discourse which has thus shaped us into who we are. When thinking about video games that look real as possible, the application of motion-capture came to mind. Motion-capture has been used in games for a long time but it is arguably the game developer of Quantic Dream that are the most renowned for using it. Their work on the critically acclaimed games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls have both utilised the motion-capture technology in video games and have helped craft much more believable emotional depth within their characters and thus create a much more invested narrative. Quantic Dreams’ games always tend to use ‘reaction commands’ or ‘quick time events’ as their core gameplay and let the story and characters do the rest. Debord’s and Baudrillard’ theories on spectacle could fit very well into this idea, with the resounding question of ‘who is playing whom?’ This is something that could translate very well into an artefact surrounding spectacle; bringing in themes of control, false-reality and media-manipulation.

References:

Baudrillard, J. (1983) Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e) Inc.

The Matrix. 1999. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

The Matrix Reloaded. 2003. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

The Matrix Revolutions. 2003. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

Unknown. 2012. Heavy Rain – Hassan’s Shop – Gameplay Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ee4sQispHQ : [26 Oct 2013].

Unknown. 2009. “The Matrix” (1999) — ‘Construct’ Scenes Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGZiLMGdCE0 : [26 Oct 2013].

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