What is not there, or is, in hindsight.

the-treachery-of-images-this-is-not-a-pipe-1948(2) (1)

Yesterday I conducted a small experiment with one of my family members. I quoted the above line that Magritte put on his painting: Ceci n’est pas une pipe and asked what it was about… the answer is: about a pipe. I bet that if I say this line to a random group of strangers that most will say the same.. Hold that thought for I will get back to this later.

Let’s quote Magritte: “The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe”, I’d have been lying!”

Would he have been lying?

It is interesting to know that Magritte uses a name for something that he both uses to describe his painting with, which is not  a pipe (according to himself), and his pipe in the material world, which is. Or is it? He then says.. you can’t not stuff my pipe.. Meaning you can not stuff the pipe in the painting.. while you could stuff the one in the real world.But the funny thing is.. he did..stuff his pipe and he can… he just has to paint himself stuffing the pipe. And what can not been done with picture can be done with text…as he did.. We just write: Rene Magritte stuffed his pipe… and he did. The wonderful world or text and pictures opens up.

Now I had the tremendous arrogance to make a picture that is a response to the above painting, which is both a play and a sort of criticism on his picture. Lemme show it:

ceci-cest-une-pipe copy
It is actually true. Or is it?

I reduced the principle even further..but I think this one works best.. below there are more options.

A pipe is in a certain way a thought construct and when I write down the word and use the similar style of painting and your associative thought of it.. you will see before you a pipe, perhaps even the pipe Magritte painted. And when I ask you about the properties of that pipe you will tell me that you can use it to smoke tobacco and you have to stuff it and old people smoke pipe.. and so on.

Actually.. now that I have show you the above picture.. I might go a step further…

By now you still associate this picture with Magritte’s picture.. and you still see his pipe, because the word invokes the image or thought.. and all associations that go with it.

ceci-une-pipe copy

I kept the words on the same location although I made a few pictures that put the words in the center.. this in place makes the association stronger.

ceci-pipe

Let’s reduce the complexity even further..

ceci-dot

or

no-pipe

You will probably agree with me that the last two pictures will not make any sense if it did not have the Magritte’s to associate with it. Which is the fascinating thing about thoughts and imagery. The image can be used to toy with an idea as can words. Imagery and words can be used to replace or change what we see. The use of words and imagery can have a strong impact that can be manipulated to tell a story.

Take as example Newspeak(From the wikipedia)

“Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc.”

And

“The aim of Newspeak is to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple concepts (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink) that reinforce the total dominance of the State. Newspeak root words serve as both nouns and verbs, further reducing the total number of words; for example, “think” is both noun and verb, so the word thought is not required and can be abolished. The party also intends that Newspeak be spoken in staccato rhythms with syllables that are easy to pronounce. This will make speech more automatic and unconscious and reduce the likelihood of thought.”

This concept is thus to further control by reducing complexity. The funny thing that it might go both ways. Reducing shades of meaning will make people wonder what actually is meant by a statement.. Hence thought returns because the language is not complex enough to denote all possible meanings and people are left to wander what they ought to do. In other words. Newspeak, this tool to reduce thoughts, will defeat itself.

no-pipe

The above picture has no meaning without context.. which is provided by this picture:

the-treachery-of-images-this-is-not-a-pipe-1948(2) (1)

And Magritte’s painting has no meaning without context either and only works because it became famous. The painting itself has become a though construct that gives meaning and context that would not have worked before it existed.

It is funny that this picture can lead to the following pattern:

patterns-of-thought copy

Now let’s see this concept at work..

Image11
The image of a window. So what?

So what is going on here?

Well this is a picture of Clementine missing. There is no Clementine…

Image10
This is the image before..

There is Clementine.

Image13
And this is the image after..

And now she is gone.. but no worry.. Clementine never existed as she was merely an computer generated image.

Let’s shuffle the images around for fun.

walkingdead-selection-screen-1 copy

Shuffling the images around can change the story especially when you do not know what happened before and after. But there is a certain pattern in the above pictures: the top row shows the given order.. the camera closes in…

The next row shuffles it about.. as do the next.  I leave this for some other post a bit as this goes into another direction.

Lets play around with words and pictures…..

The book of summer

When I showed this landscape(it is made in OSGrid) and said the name was summer.. the immediate reaction was: this is not summer.. it is winter. The thing is that I know something that you do not know yet… it is actually summer because in my tale it snows in summer.. Now I could also say.. the town is called Summer, but in this case that was not the reason.  This is a simple play around with words to capture interest.

umbrella

This is a further extension of the idea and this one is true in the sense of Magritte. I removed all the text because in that way you can either add your own or just think about the picture. In thinking along with Magritte: it is not an umbrella because it is a picture of an umbrella. But the umbrella in the picture lacks the one thing we have an umbrella for: it can not stop the rain and if an umbrella does not stop the rain is it still an umbrella or rahter.. even as a depiction of an umbrella it fails.

Originally I tried to capture in the text that the girl in the picture was trying to invoke the umbrella through an act of belief. If you just belief hard enough the umbrella appears and protects against the rain.. but alas her faith in the umbrella was not strong enough and the umbrella never became strong enough to stop the rain.

I like the odd strange things to work into pictures and text and play around with them…

The walking dead videogame: interactive storytelling.

(This movie shows three key scenes.. if you do not like spoilers you should not watch after the first scene has ended. There is a red walking dead sign dividing the first and second scene.)

I was fortunate that I did not buy the video-game the walking dead. I was somewhat suspicious about it actually being a game, so I decided to find out what kind of game it  before buying it. You see, the maker of the game, tell-tale games. made and makes click adventures. Click adventures are the kind of games where you have to click on objects in the game to combine them so they can be used to make the game proceed. It is not my kind of game. In fact ever since  I played Zork way back I stopped playing those kind. I vaguely recall that I had to do something with a piece of string and a clay brick to open some kind of doorway. I think the piece of wire was meant to go into the clay, then the clay was made into a brick and the brick with string attached had to be put in a wall to open a secret door.

The walking dead game was exactly the kind of ‘game’ I expected it to be. So based on that conclusion it would not be very interesting for me. However I became fascinated by the game movies that one guy called the rad brad had made. I followed him playing this game from start to finish.  And it was clearly not a game but rather an interactive movie. The whole story line did progress along the same path regardless of what options the player choose.  Most of the options available were more to give the story a slightly different feel then make for a dramatic different game or create an complete different conclusion.

The game might be disappointing for people who want to play a game that gave them the option to make decisions that had important repercussions. However as a story it captured me even though it had it’s weak moments.

I was wondering what actually made the story work for me and after some pondering I figured that the most  crucial thing in the game is the relation between the main character Lee and  the little girl Clementine. Lee acts as Clementine’s replacement dad. It is therefore that I made a small movie showing two crucial moments in the game…the one where Lee and Clementine meet and the one were they part.  In addition it also shows you how the game ends.. So that is three scenes.

In addition to the central relationship in the story I have to name the voice acting as a impressive. The fact that the game makers stick to a simple story line seems to work well and most of the characters are believable people that you can identify with, care about, understand, suffer or perhaps even hate.  Unlike many characters is other movies and games where nobody really cares about them because they are not believable people. Lee, for instance, is the kind of guy I liked from the start as being a former teacher. Clementine is a kind of kid that you like.

Because I like pictures above typed text, let me go through some of the movie scenes and comment on a few scenes that makes this video game/movie stand out.

The walking dead opens with the skyline of Atlanta

The walking dead opens with the skyline of Atlanta and it is a link between the television series, comic and the game. That way people will know the setting. In a later post I will comment further on the interaction of thoughts, feels and the use of language and imagery to invoke stories. Above the picture   somehow I thought it read “A brand new day.” Note the beautiful blue sky and the sunny setting.  Interestingly.. while this is the skyline of Atlanta we do no go to it.. the story takes us away from it. In this manner a possible conflict can be avoided. Bye bye Atlanta.

The conversation between Lee and the cop.

The conversation between Lee and the cop is done partly via the rear view mirror. This way we can follow their expressions. It also underscores the relation between the two and will aid in setting up the scene where they have the accident. Note that setting is still pleasant. There will be message on the radio and police cars driving towards Atlanta. We know what is going to happen.

After the police car hits a zombie, it slips, crashes through this rail and ends up at the bottom of this slope.

After the police car hits a roaming zombie, it slips, crashes through this rail and ends up at the bottom of this slope. While this is a very unlikely occurrence (those rails can stop trucks) this makes for a very engaging shot from above. Note the corpse of the cop in the right top corner and the trails of blood that runs from the car to him. The shades and dark lights create for an ominous scene. The sunny happy mood has been replaced by gloom and creepy shadows. It is a cool way to make a picture. The look from above to below zooms out give an overview and also makes everything remote. Note that the darkness is on the edges. It creeps in from all sides.

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A shot from the car through the cracked window.. the dead cop catches the attention. To make us focus he is in the light and the rest is dark, with the darkness being at the edge of the picture.

Again the above shot is almost like a painting.. which perhaps it is. The low quality of the graphics is used to the advantage by changing it all into a more comic kind of style. I suspect it was a way how the makers had to deal with a technical limitation, yet kept the whole in style and interesting. Incidentally.. the original comic is done in black and white which is probably a way to save cost on having to color the pictures

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When Lee gets out the car he looks around and reaches down.. this gives the maker the change to create this upward shot where the light of the sky turns Lee into a silhouette. The sky is a sickly yellow.
Lee finds out that the cop is dead but still moving. It lunges for Lee. Lee crawls backwards until his escape is blocked by the car. This is just prior to him picking up the shotgun and killing the now zombie-cop. The camera is set at an angle and we look down upon Lee. This supports the feeling of fear, strangeness and confusion.
Lee escapes zombies that have been alerted by the gun shot by climbing over a fence.

After escaping from the zombies Lee finds himseft on the grounds of this suburban home. The shot is zoomed out which show us he is completely alone.. his shouting made me cringe. This will be used several times during the game. Someone shouting in an otherwise silent place. Did you notice the eerie yellow sky and gloom? In the distance it almost looks like there are yellow vapors rising from the ground.

Lee enters the nearby home.

When Lee enters the nearby house he moves from out of the light into the darkness. Again creating an eerie atmosphere. This is the home where he meets Clementine. As you can see this whole setup is deliberately. In the previous pictures it is dark as if the evening has fallen. Then the scene is changed to an eerie sick yellow color. Here the color outside is almost golden, while inside darkness is hiding unknown dangers.

The central working element in the game is the relation between Lee and Clementine.

The central working element in the game is the relation between Lee and Clementine. While the art could be better and is not that original as some people claim – it resembles that of other games and movies(Borderlands spring to mind) – the use of expressions and the voice acting coupled to the images make the story work. In fact it works better than many movies with real people.

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Lee crouches down and talks to Clementine. His fatherly caring attitude towards the frail girl shows him to be a gentle person. We care for this person because he cares for Clementine.
This is perhaps one of the most telling shots.. Lee taking Clementine by the hand to brave the unknown dangers of this zombie plagued world.
Another classic scene.
At the beginning of the game Lee meets Kenny.. the relation between Lee and Kenny is another important one in the game. Kenny is the other dad.. and his relation to his wife and his son is a mirror of that which Lee and Clementine have. Note that we will never see a scene in which Kenny talks to Clementine. His looks is that from a country guy or mechanic. This is a working class man(as opposed to Lee, who is a teacher.)
Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 7_03_19 PM
Kenny’s wife Katjaa and their son Duck. Duck is an obnoxious brawny kid and almost the opposite of Clementine. As such he functions as a kind of lightning rod.
This is Lilly who leads the group of survivors that Lee and Clementine join.

Lilly is the leader who continuously struggles with her role. I am not sure how other people feel about her, but I think she was wrongly treated in the story line. She was obviously put in a role she felt uncomfortable with and she tried to do her best in a bad situation. Nobody, not even Lee, actually volunteers to take over her leadership role, yet she is keenly aware of unvoiced (imagined?) criticisms towards her own short comings. She has to make though decisions and at one moment during the game she makes Lee, who is the main potential challenge to her leadership, even if he does not want to, choose whom to feed. The makers of the game do something harsh towards her halfway into the series although  it is not out of character. This act makes her flee the group and thus leave the story.. although there is possibility she might return in  future episodes.

Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 7_08_24 PM
Lilly’s father is an overbearing bitter person. His appearance supports this very well. He has a broken nose and a jutting jaw like he is some kind of street fighter (bully?).. It is also hinted at that he is a racist which explains his hostility towards Lee. At some point he warns Lee off to keep his hand away from his daughter, thus adding a sexual undercurrent to his dislike for Lee,
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This is Ben, like other characters in the story he seems to be in the game to supply the story with someone who can be written off at some point during the tale so that we keep being aware of how dangerous this world is.
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Molly appears in the last episode of the game and she as fast in as she is out. Without her wanting to she almost causes the group of survivors to be overwhelmed by zombies. She is a resource full athletic girl and one of the few people that survive. It is almost in her nature to survive.
Chuck, another survivor that has a small role in the story. His role seems mostly to make Lee aware that the world has changed forever and he needs to learn Clementine some basic things like.. firing a handgun. Skill we in a normal society would not want to teach to our children. His is the wise guy… even though he is portrayed as a hobo.
This picture invokes a strange scene. The group sits near a abandoned train out in the open. Chuck is playing music. It is explained before that the place is secluded and protected, yet with all the roaming zombies around one wonders why there is not one single guard.. on the top of train for instance?

As a story element the above scene creates a placid scene. The sky is blue and it almost looks like they are sitting around a campfire as if on holiday. Not even someone on guard. Which might be a deliberate move. A guard would spoil this ideal camping picture.  Note that nobody seems to change clothes throughout the game, except for Kenny, who switches t-shirts..

Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 8_10_15 PM
Another set of picture that show the interaction between Lee and Clementine. He explains her that she has to cut her hair because zombies could grab it. Later Lee learns her to shoot.

Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 8_10_28 PM

The group enters the city of Savannah. The place of hope. Note the sunny colors..
While zombies are a constant threat in the background the game does not overdo it. It uses them appropriately. In this scene the previously empty streets of Savannah are suddenly filled with zombies because Molly uses bells to lure them away. She is however unaware of the group of survivors entering the town. As consequence she lures the zombies right towards them. From a technical angle this image shows the limits of the game as well. The avatars have been lightened but they do not match up to the surrounding lighting and they cast no shadows where other things do. As such they almost look like they have been cut out and pasted into the scene.

Another use of colors in the above two scenes. When the group enters the city of Savannah.. the scene is set as if it is a nice summers day.. when the zombies arrive.. the colors are turned to dark and threatening. It is one of the ways to underscore the mood…

Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 7_29_09 PM
The game at various moments shows us empty streets that are suddenly filled with zombies. It is one of these weaker features in the story. Why would zombies linger in the houses to sudden erupt into the street? Because it is story wise more exciting and.. it is probably also a limitation of the game.

Note the sky above this scene.. bad things are about to happen….

Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 7_12_01 PM
During one of the moments in the game a hunting party send out by the group finds three other survivors.

This scene is cast in an almost pleasant like forest view. In this case the dark threatening colors are no used.. because the sunray that shines into the clearing makes for a nice contrast with the next scene.. The light guides our view towards the center..

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One has been caught in a trap while zombies close with the group they frantically try to release the trapped survivor.

Zombies shamble towards the group…

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There are tough moments in the game like these where you have to choose whom to feed. Curiously enough the whole food issue is never mentioned again.
Screenshot - 11_13_2013 , 7_31_04 PM
More issues.. this girl is about to be overwhelmed by zombies.. your can choose to kill her or hope she makes it, but it is obvious from the situation that she has not a shadow of chance to get out alive.

The above scene with the dark clouds that seem threatening is the stage for this little drama.. you have to either see her killed by the zombies or you have kill her yourself. Watching this scene gives me a sad shocked feeling. I know what is going to happen.. You can see she must have been through a rough time with her being dirty… she almost looks like a zombie at this point, and you can see the desperation on her face. He looking as a zombie creates this feel that she has been in the pit.. tries to escape.. Lee and Kenny are near.. yet within sight of salvation they can not help her..and only kill her quickly to spare her an agonizing death…

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More tough choices. The camera is set low so that it show the kid in the middle and the gun in the foreground.

This camera is set low.. so we are at eye level with the kid.. the two grown-ups loom over the dead kid.. It is a classic scene of a vulnerable kid being at the mercy of two strong grown-ups.. The gun illustrates this to a point.. If we did not know from the story-line this might be even interpreted in another way. This is one of the things about a story.. like a house it is made up out of smaller parts that give it context and meaning.. Context and meaning that could be changed by changing the constituent parts of the story.

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Tough moments like these abound.. you can choose to rescue Ben or not. There is a reason you might want to drop him.. which is why the choice is not easy.

The camera shot is marvelous: the one hand holding Ben, the zombies roaming below and climbing the stairs. The darkness creeps in from all sides.. again.

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Almost at the very end we discover what happened to the Clementine’s parents.

This last scenes are done in a stark dark color. We are in the pit of darkness…

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Halfway during the story the group find this train blocking the road.
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The survivors get the train to work. It brings them to Savannah where they hope to escape by boat.

This is the scene of Savannah just before the group enters the town..They travel towards the sun.. the bringer of light, warmth and hope.

Yellow dust hangs over this scene and obscures the zombies.. suggesting there are a lot of them. If you look closer you will see that there are not that many there..
Lee hangs out of the train.. the group barely escaped this horde of zombies. You could swap the zombies for any other kind of pursuit.. it is the classic.. we got away! scene.
One of the final scenes…It could be dusk or dawn..but the landscape signifies a change of state. Considering it was dark before.. this must be dawn..

“The scent of her” by Chuckmatrix Clip. Virtual Sculpting

"The scent of her"
“The scent of her”

Some time ago I went to a place(sorry I forgot the name) because I felt inclined to do so and there was an exhibition of  the works of various artists. The art that stuck in my mind were these sculptures made by Chuckmatrix Clip.  There are not that many sculptures being made as compared to the amount of pictures(and paintings). The reason for this might have something to do with the fact that is seems more connected to real life then paintings are. It requires the ability to make something from nothing, while most paintings use avatars and other thing already available in Second life. Perhaps a statue or sculpture is more down to earth?

"The scent of her"
“The scent of her”
"The scent of her"
“The scent of her”

The sculpture that I took pictures of was made with primary objects, called Prims. Prims are basic objects in SL(and worlds like that) that come in various basic shapes like a sphere, a cube, a cylinder.. each of these basic shapes can be manipulated. This statue was made using more than twohundred prims manipulated into various forms. The limit on this is that in Second Life using prims requires an area that can hold them. To get an idea of the cost. I rent a space for eight dollars a week that supports nine hundredth prims.  In other worlds, like the os grid one can rent land that support much more prims. OS grid even allows for a more refined manipulation of the prims.

Basic primary objects called prims
Basic primary objects called prims. Basic shapes are the sphere, cube and cylinder.

bundleboy copy

Prims twisted at -36.
Prims twisted at -36.
tapered-basic-prim
Tapered prims.
Ragdohcchio
Veleda made Ragdohcchio with prims..
The torus
The torus is another basic shape and offers more complex possibilities.
cat
“Puck” our deceased cat, made using torii only.
Steammonkey made with prims
Steammonkey made with prims
A sculpture representing the avatar Brokali (when he was in his blue man mood). Made with prims in torus shape.
The blue particles are meant to suggest the shape of the face.

Two nekos do Urupe 7: Luxembourg

Screenshot - 10_1_2013 , 11_39_45 PM Luxembourg is both the name of a small country and its capital, located in the West of Europe lodged between Belgium, France and Germany. In fact it is so small that you might see it as a city with outlaying districts and surrounding country side.. Perhaps the inhabitants of this small country might best speak for themselves about that. So go and ask them. And did you know there are just like 600.000 of them.. so the country is smaller than a lot of cities elsewhere in the world.

“How come that it exist at all?”  Kris asked..

“I bet because someone forgot to conquer it.” Merit said.

“You think?”

“Well.. perhaps someone would have.. but then other countries frown on such things: they get jealous, because they want to have it for themselves,.. so, it might exist because one does not want the other to have it. You know.. politics. The kind of self servicing politics that some enlightened philosophies like to take for being the prime motivation of humanity.”

“I bet it was just because after the centuries of conquering the bigger countries ran out of steam.  So by the time Luxembourg was eligible to be absorbed international laws were accepted as and it was saved by the bell Like.. why would we want to invade our neighbors? We want peace.. and love. Positive stuff.” Kris said

. “Perhaps.  it is a quiet little capital though. Nice and quiet.”

“I likes it!” Kris said.

“I like it too… and since it is in between some very big and powerful countries that could have conquered it or divided it, it. is like a sign of what peace can do. For we have not had a war in Western Urupe  since world war II. And certainly not Luxembourg. So I think it should the capital of Urope. As a symbol.” Merit said, “It already has a lot of European  Union institutions.. so why not all?”

“We could have multiple capitals can’t we?”

“We could. Who says we can’t?”

“Well, we name a few others we liked.”

“Didn’t we like them all?”

“Yes, but we can’t have all cities as the capital of Urupe?”

“Who says we can’t?”

Screenshot - 10_1_2013 , 11_34_22 PM
It is that quiet.
Because most decision are made by the stomach.. we thought Luxembourg is a good candidate for being the Capital of Urupe because of the many little restaurants. Haute cuisine, you’ll never go to war on a full stomach.. at least we don’t.
Fort Thungen
Fort Thungen was rebuilt at the end of the twentieth century and tthe start of the twenty-first after the original fortification was demolished between 1870 and 1874. In 1867 the treaty of London, signed by most of the then bigger European powers, guaranteed the neutrality of Luxembourg provided it had no fortification that might be used by outsiders as a base for waging war. So to remain neutral it should not be able to become a threat. Therefore the fort was demolished.
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The fort is a nice example of a late 18th century fortress built by the famous Vauban.. Well.. famous with those who know him. Nowadays the heap of stones is a nice backdrop where they let horses graze and you can do some site seeing. Being able to ride around without fearing some kind of violence is nice indeed!
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Picking a horse was hard. So many to choose from.

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Magic!
Nice!
Forts are pretty useless most of the time -this one did not even have a public toilet or a cafe. Which is why it is nice that we do not have wars anymore.

Two nekos do Urupe 6: Berlin

Screenshot - 9_29_2013 , 11_25_27 PM
Kebab is not a German dish.. but it signifies the existence of Berlins large Turkish community. An estimated 10% of the population is Turkish or from Turkish decent. Berlin is not only a large city(larger than Paris) but also has a lot of immigrants from the middle-east and eastern Urope.

When we were thinking of another capital of Urupe we could not help but think of Berlin.  Berlin, of course, is the capital city of Germany, a country that is well known by the general movie going public at large for visiting other peoples countries uninvited. This is of course something that lies in the past, but, assumed that we do not get another world war caused by another country (or two) it will probably haunt Germany  for as long as it exists(like it will Japan.).   This despite the fact that Germany has not been involved in a war of any sorts this last five decades or so and is one of the strongest pillars the European Union rests upon.  You see, that Germany is a rich country. Very rich. In fact it is by far the richest country in Urupe(if we not counting Russia that is and the vote is out there whether Russia belongs to Urupe or not) and this without having any huge amounts of natural resources, except for people that is. In fact it is one of the richest countries in the world.

Screenshot - 9_29_2013 , 10_11_53 PM
The TV tower at Berlin; a defining landmark of the city. It was built by the German Democratic Republic: that is the former East German government. In a way it is both a symbol of reunification as of division.

Germany once was divided into two parts: one to the east and one to the west. The west part had its capital at Bonn, a town sitting near the French border which was abandoned in favor for Berlin in no time once Germany was united again and Berlin was no longer locked in the middle of  socialist east Germany. The socialists left a reminder in the TV tower.  Seems every nation want something sticking into the air just to remind you of… eh. well. remind you of something. Maybe just to remind you that they are there?

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We had to revisit Berlin because we wanted to make some more pictures. Look.. it is the TV tower! Yeah, this is another Neko. We got a lot of them..

One of the nice things about Berlin is that the do strange arty stuff. A fertile art culture seems a kind of good symbol, even when you do not agree with the art. The cubes are a memorial to the Jewish victims of the holocaust. The concrete blocks are called Stelae, which is an expensive name for upright standing stone block. Berlin has always been a very arty place.

berlins copy
We thought to make a nice snapshot of the Berlin Project in Second Life.. as we had not access, us being nekos.  You see these did not yet hang out at Berlin in the twenties. So we had Fats take a picture.. That is the Brandenburger tor and I guess the woods to either side are the grounds of the Tiergarten(zoo).
berlin-bannhof copy
So well.. we asked to have Fats another picture with Fats himself in it. As Fats is not a neko and therefore fits into the Berlin scene he could take a picture at leisure. This is a picture of the Bannhof (station) at Alexanderplatz.which brings us, together with the previous picture, to Bannhof Zoo. And this brings us to.. Christiane F.
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Christiane F, or: wir kinder vom bannhof zoo is the sad tale of a teenager who became a heroine drug addict in the later seventies of the 20th century. The scenery is set amid the depressing grey high rises that populated West Berlin. The scenery is perhaps a tad darker when one imagines that just a few kilometers to the east people where shot by East German border guards for trying to flee the blessings of the socialist Valhalla while in west Berlin teenagers were trying to escape capitalist heaven on earth using drugs.
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Cube24 in Second Life is probably a representation of the Cube night club in real life Berlin. It is actually a lively place for Second Life and caters to the lovers of electronic music. Admittedly that is a broad spectrum of music nowadays, so out feeling was that it tended towards trance, minimal more than towards hardcore house.
We liked it..

A state of mind 2: who needs the government anyway?

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The Night of the Living Dead has a kind of dark humor for at the end the hero of the movie gets shot by these vigilantes because they think he is a zombie. In the end titling you see vague pictures in the background that show what they do with the bodies. It is a kind of reminiscent of nazi practices as you see the people using meat-hooks to drag the bodies to stack them high to burn them. The corpse of the hero is among them.

In the previous installment of a state of mind we ended we the guys we see above. We see them hunting down the zombies in the Night of the Living Dead. So how about the government? What are they doing?

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Almost any interpretation of the zombie apocalypse has to deal with this. How do you explain away..
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these guys(and girls for that matter)
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or these..
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or this?

Of course anyone who tells a story of a nation like the United State being overrun by undead has to somehow explain how these undead can gain the upper-hand in face of the violence that the United States can bring to bear. Even considering that a substantial part of the men and women of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies are turned into undead themselves.

But an explanation is actually seldom given simply because when one starts to explain, one has then to fight fire with fire, because once one starts to reason one will find that most of what is happening in zombie tales is quite unreasonable. The best solution to this problem is thus to say nothing about it at all and merely mention that the government was unable to deal with the crisis.

And thus one gets pictures like these:

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An abandoned tank in the street. The mighty power of the army culled. A block of useless steel. There is a corpse of a soldier on the tank to underscore it even more.. it will be shown in close up with birds picking at it.. Just in cast you do not get it.
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and there is one inside… but this soldier is not quite dead though.
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Rick is actually a police officer himself.. and when he enters the city a burned out police car and a downed helicopter symbolize the inability of the government to maintain control of the situation. The movie makers love to scatter helicopters about.
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Another picture to show that the government was unable to deal with the crisis. It is curious that the building seems to be blackened as if it has been shot at. One wonders who would have the temerity to shoot at the United States army in the United States? Did you notice the helicopters?
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The law in State of Decay is represented by these guys. Sheriff Carl and judge Lawson. The sheriff seems a bit out of his depth, but then.. it is the zombie apocalypse!
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The courthouse  in Marshall is where the last remains of the local government is holding out. Which is about the only representation of the law enforcement agencies in the game. Incidentally it gets attacked during the game by zombies and the two leading figures, sheriff Carl and judge Lawson, die during the attack. The powerlessness is illustrated by the fact that the two guard towers never seem to be manned throughout the game and you can get attacked even right in front of entrance of the building and nobody comes to your aid even though there are two heavily armored guards  inside the building right behind the entrance.
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The US army is in most movies and stories often just ineffective..but in State of Decay its role is even nefarious.  In addition to throwing refugees out on the street without offering protection, the game almost suggest that the US army was actually the cause of much of the nastiness in Trumbull Valley.
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While it is not exactly told, it is laid on thick that the army was actually aware and probably let this happen. I can not recall the US army being depicted this black(but see below: the stand). A new trend maybe?
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Erik Tan, disillusioned soldier, tells us that the US army blocked off the pass leading out of the valley. Not only are we told about this, we are also told that they left many of their men behind unattended and uncared for. Something which is quite strange for an army that got drawn into a extended battle in Mogadishu because it did not want to leave behind men who were in a helicopter that got downed. In fact there seems to be a point with the US army to not leave (their) people behind. Might just be politics though.. as nay-sayers would say.
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In zafehouse diaries, a text based zombie apocalypse game, the military makes one appearance and is defined as a threat. “New dilemma — Outpost. Players of No Survivors have a new threat to watch out for. A group of ex-military troops may set themselves up inside a location in town, along with a nice cache of weapons and equipment. “
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In the stand the military is responsible for the extermination of humanity by failing to contain a tweaked version of the flu. During the story the army gets to be a symbol of oppression as it goes to extremes to contain the disease and citizen unrest. Eventually the government disappears because they are no longer needed for the story and we are left to watch a rag-tag band of religious fanatics fighting it out with another band of religious fanatics. One is ‘good’ and the other is ‘bad’. The good guys are the ones we see the most, oh and they have the pretty women. Just so you know. Personally I like the bad guy better when he was this black bird.
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In the crazies it is actually cops versus army as a plane-crash turns everyone in a village into crazies, except for the handful of survivors of course. The army tries to contain and remove any evidence of the disaster by any means, including using Apache Longbow choppers. This one fails to spot the police car in full daylight.

Basically the governments  sucks. If they do not cause the disaster, their might is usually ineffective against it  and often more directed against the rest of the population and survivors in particular. Cops seem to be a bit in between, but regardless of their attitude, they are simply ineffective as a force. Instead they become often survivors, if they do not turn into zombies. This climate, this state of mind pervades almost all movies, books and games. It even contaminates political thinking.  But if you think companies are any better….

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The mighty Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil can not control the outbreak of the T virus despite using soldiers, poison gas en a nuclear bomb. Well, the bomb is actually dropped by the government in the game, but in the movie it is the corporation itself that deploys the weapon.

But do not fear! We are about to reveal a secret.

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Irony is that the biggest adversary of the zombies and other rotting undead is never mentioned. It is mother nature.. and in particular this little critter. Producing itself in the millions it will have a field day with all the rotting flesh around.
In a warm sunny climate a rotting body will be gone in a month. The best way to survive the zombie apocalypse is just to sit it out and have the flies do their work. provided the zombies stick to the rules! Of course they don’t.