hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

29 January 2014

eOS1 & High-Waist Pantalones

The world's first emotional operating system was introduced in the science-fiction-romantic-comedy-drama Her (2013). The film depicts a future society, well-developed in technology, to accentuate the culture as opposed to replace it. For the most part anyway. When OS1--the most intuitive modern operating system--is introduced, our lonely introverted protagonist, who composes love letters for a career, falls madly in love. The film is oozing with quirkiness, and despite its cross-genre appeal, Her has a scent of its own.

Her Film

Aesthetically, the film is beautiful. It depicts a very realistic and stylish version of the near future, bringing in retrofitted styles and elegant technological advances.  Absent of chrome robots folding our clothes and spreading jam across our morning toast, Her paints a future that we could potentially live in. Fashion, for instance, is a key concept to represent the culture--taking on a style equivalent to the 1950s. High-waist pants become sexy and pastel-colored dress shirts are a comfortable and classy casual wear. The lines between engendered clothing are blurred, and the unisex appeal represents the progressive equality present in this future. Society, while optimistically portrayed in the film, is contrasted by the more serious topics of love and belonging explored in the internal conflicts of the primary characters.

Specifically, the growing complications of the human male and female computer relationship exhibit a basic human concern. What creates love? The conversations held between man and computer are engrossing and tender, truly romantic. Can love be a purely abstract concept, devoid of physical connection? As we are essentially islands beneath our skin, we can never grow to truly know the inside of another--every thought and emotion. Physical vicinity to other bodies does little to remedy loneliness, for being in a crowd can sometimes be the loneliest feeling of all. Happiness comes from within, so can love exist in one's thoughts, in a vacuum? Or does there need to be a container?  A container affects content, perhaps limiting perceptions, as the female lover explains she is exploring and expanding her understanding more than her human male could ever gather. Despite the ideal world created by external society, where crimes do not appear to be prevalent and environmental and social issues appear solved, the individual turmoil over emotions persists. We live beside each other, but we are still alone in our skin.

Her is a beautiful composition of an unsolvable problem. Regardless of every technological or societal improvement to our world, the members of it will continue to carry their emotional weight. Happiness and love come from within, but we are limited by our human selves. That physical component, no matter how limiting, is beautiful.

22 January 2014

Paper Books & Analog Clocks

Sci-fi-induced-idiocy has severely altered our perceptions of the future.

Chrome-plated floors, ceilings, and walls. Transparent touch screens with rapidly flashing data. Android housemaids. Flying cars. Strange blue foods consumed through a straw. While our view of the distant future may not be the cover of a discounted 1980s paperback sci-fi, much of our understanding of the future focuses on the technological change without a regard for aesthetics. As we progress into the future, new technology rises to replace the old--but we should not forget about the form of beauty it can take.

I do not believe anyone would argue paper books to be more practical than digital e-books. Digital books are more environmentally friendly (no need to chop down trees for paper) and more economically viable, for both the writer, publisher, and reader. There is little to no overhead to generate these books as no physical materials are required. This medium for a work enables the buyer to save money and the writer and publisher to share a great percentage of the profit, for no money flows into the creation of materials. The practicality is furthered by the ease of reading--as one could theoretically carry an entire library in one's back pocket. Despite all of this, however, paper books still persist and will likely continue their existence in the coming years. There is something illogically satisfying about holding a paper book, bound and printed. Perhaps the smell of the paper? The bend of the pages? The light crackle of binding glue when pulling open the front cover? The ability to rip out pages, dog-ear the corners, and scribble broken thoughts in the narrow margins is what gives us the satisfaction. To mar a physical book and make it our own, to form a relationship with the book and have it be personalized for own agenda. It is the aesthetics that keep paper books alive.

Digital clocks are considerably more efficient than analog clocks. It is much easier to read a series of four numbers and know the exact time than deduce the approximation from twirling analog hands. Our cell phones bear the precise time from satellites. They adjust with time zones, appropriately switching with daylight-savings and leap-years. They are incredibly more practical in our daily lives, but that doesn't mean we lose the watch around our wrists. Large analog clocks look beautiful when hanging from a wall. They are a work of art, equivalent to a painting, with a slight practical purpose. The toll of a bell-tower is no longer necessary to proclaim the time when we see it in the corner of our laptop screens. The beauty of that chime and consistent rotation of the time-bearing hands gives clocks an aesthetic value that cannot be replaced, despite technological changes in efficiency.

The future will be overridden with new technology, like driver-less cars and self-regulating homes to conserve energy, but the beauty of certain technologies will be conserved for the sake of aesthetics. Paper books and analog clocks, both beaten in efficiency by new inventions, will remain a part of our lives. Aesthetic value outweighs efficiency.