I didn’t get a chance to put anything up yesterday cause I was too busy graduating and celebrating the end of my university years. But today I shall make amends by posting a picture of the grand day and also my thesis on the filmmaker Duncan Jones that helped me secure a healthy enough 2.1. This is a departure from my usual daily photo, so apologies to those who were hoping for a little less writing and a lot more in the way of pictorial pleasures, but normal service shall resume tomorrow.
My thesis is in some ways a follow-up to my research essay regarding the repercussions of digital photography on our perception of the truth of the photographic image. The creative possibilities offered by digital technology has changed how films are crafted by filmmakers and also how audiences view their filmic texts. If you saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and wondered what the hell a computer generated gopher was doing cavorting through the opening credits, or if you enjoyed the work of Duncan Jones through the films Moon and Source Code as much as me, then maybe this is the essay for you.
At 15,000 words, this ain’t no walk in the park to read, but just think what a pain it was to write all summer!
Duncan Jones and his exploration of profound philosophical and
scientific theories through his own highly derivative take on science
fiction cinema, which is aided by the application of digital technology.
MA in Film Studies NUI Galway
Duncan Jones’s feature film directorial debut Moon (2009) is a film that reinvigorated the
science fiction film genre upon its release. Moon is an independent sci-fi film that was
made for less than $5 million dollars, which hides its budget constraints extraordinarily
well by the deployment of classic cinematic miniature model making techniques,
alongside state of the art computer generated effects. This juxtaposition of old school
science fiction film making techniques, beside the sparing use of digital effects, lends to
Moon an original and uniquely engaging aesthetic style that successfully brings to life the
sparse industrial landscape of a mining operation on the far side of the Moon. Moon’s
original story was penned by Duncan Jones himself, and through his highly derivative
take on the science fiction genre, Jones explores philosophical ideas such as what
constitutes true identity in the age of cloning. Jones also manages to engage with the
outer reaches of scientific theorising through an exploration of the somewhat realistic
possibility of satiating Earth’s energy needs by mining the surface of the Moon for a
mineral called Helium 3. Within Source Code (2011), Duncan Jones’s follow up
directorial outing to Moon, Jones was granted a Hollywood blockbuster budget in order to
create another intelligent science fiction movie that explores slightly more far flung
scientific theories regarding time travel and parallel universes. Source Code proposes the
possibility that a crime fighting device that allows access to events that have already
passed, could allow a soldier to curb terrorist activities, and subsequently visit universes
other than our own. Source Code wasn’t written by Duncan Jones himself, and as a result
of this, it differs greatly from Moon in tone and style. However, both films exhibit a
highly engaging curiosity regarding philosophical and scientific theorising, and both
movies also make the most of computer generated imagery in very individual ways.
Throughout my thesis, I shall be making a close analysis of both these movies, alongside
an exploration of what makes Duncan Jones such a unique filmmaker in contemporary
sci-fi cinema. By scrutinising Duncan Jones gestation as a filmmaker alongside his
subsequent cinematic output, I shall clarify what exactly makes these films so refreshing
within the science fiction genre. I will also explain how exactly Jones showcases the best
elements of thought provoking sci-fi, through his exploration of the philosophical
conundrums that arise from advances in scientific knowledge, which is aided by his canny
utilisation of the vast filmmaking possibilities now offered by digital technology.
You can read the rest here if that’s grabbed you at all. Feargal Norton’s thesis on Duncan Jones 2011
And here’s me looking typically awkward in front of the camera lens. I should really stay where I belong behind the camera.
Here’s a shot from about 5 years ago, before everybody including myself went digital. This was taken on a stopover in Hoi An, Vietnam, on a cheap disposable camera on my solo travel expedition from Saigon to Hanoi. These were simpler times, nowadays It’s a whole different experience to travel with a decent camera whilst constantly on the look out for things to shoot. Back then, without photographic pursuits to keep me busy, I had to work a hell of a lot harder to find things to keep me entertained on the road. Though whatever I got up to, I always felt a tinge of regret about not having any record of my journey anywhere, other than what my head decided to retain for future reference.
Now mostly everybody walks around with some form of digital camera in their pockets, so that they won’t ever miss out on a chance to record anything interesting they ever chance upon. Personally, I can’t say that I’ve got a whole lot of time for grainy camera phone shots that only ever get published on somebody’s newsfeed on facebook, but they do seem to satiate an innate human desire to record transient moments of time for some kind of posterity.
Back when I invested 5 pounds in a disposable camera to record my trip, every exposure was valued. Each time that I took a shot, I could hardly wait till the roll of film was done so I could get it developed and see if I’d nailed any good pictures. Unfortunately, a lot of my photos came out in ink a whole lot different from how they looked in my mind’s eye when I released the shutter, but I find such discrepancies between how my camera perceived the world and how my eye saw things interesting. The value of having a digital slr is that its much easier to try to make sure that what your optic nerve and your camera sensor processes, actually correspond to one another.
Here’s a monochrome shot of Ballybay Wetlands as well at the suggestion of some others. Thanks for the idea, I think it looks quite smart.