ISSUE 6/ June 2021

Bullet time

Kinematics of explicit death

Billy Brown and the infinite stage

by Aftermath laika

In virtual environments and in video games particularly, death is spoiled through entertainment. Mortal fate happens between those who apparently deserve it and our own lives at stake. Size privilege discusses death as a bargaining chip and learning, a form of self-study whose experience replicates the limit as a lesson.

Credits: Texts, Design and Illustration Aftermath Laika® / Buenos Aires 2021

The motel is poor and cold. A girl tries to keep a man in a soulless room but is unsuccessful. Outside, a highway connects two suburban towns. The man climbs a guard rail, dodges a car carelessly and stands in front of a roadside bar. He has only one thing in mind, collect a debt and take a life. However, before entering, he makes a phone call. For every individual, if there is something valuable to tell, that should be life; death, unless we speak expressly of it, in any case only decorates, crowns, say, the event of that life.

Someone is on the other end of the line. The voice is harsh. Whoever answers is asleep but is paying attention. Our man, perhaps without anxiety, informs him that he has decided to leave him his two or three valuable, insignificant things - and probably absurd for anyone - but not for that man who patiently listens to the number of a club box office where we know, there is only one ball bowling alley and a couple of minor trophies. As he details that treasure, his voice falters and stumbles over and over against his own tormented mind. Cut quickly and enter the bar.

Every story is the revelation of an enigma and that is the reason why in it, the story goes to the bone. A novel, on the other hand, is the development in time of a perhaps endless succession of events. Thus, a death lasts five hundred pages. In the stories it could be said that death redounds and in any case only deals with the fact under its mention, or the mention of its event. There would be no time to develop it before or after finishing the story. It could be said then that death is only an instant, but also a unique and unrepeatable as the event of life at birth. In the case of an extreme, we could say that it is insignificant, that is if we measure it against any biological variable until it becomes indecipherable if we face a complete life. Billy Brown, that's the name of our character, just think of that moment that he will be able to blind forever an episode that moves him and limits him for a long time, a time that although we cannot see, has been condensed into small memories that startle him and they move him. Perceptions

But the bar looks exultant. Billy searches the victim with his eyes. The music and the atmosphere colored by smoke and costumes produce a quick enchantment, perhaps that is why it is only a waitress who points it out. At a secluded table we see Scott Woods, his sinister, naughty, naked target; surrounded by the laughter of his exotic girls and alcohol.

The stories are simple events, episodes that circulate for no reason. In any case there are points of view and reasons to discover and the fundamental tool is the point of view. This perspective concerns decisions and provides arguments that articulate developments. The plot never interests a good argument, it is nothing more than the sauce that decorates an ice cream, that is expendable. Let's review some points regarding the life of the plot in the stories and the explicit agreement that the technical image has without hesitation with the viewer.

In virtual environments and in video games particularly, death is spoiled through entertainment. Mortal fate happens between those who apparently deserve it and our own lives at stake. Size privilege discusses death as a bargaining chip and learning, a form of self-study whose experience replicates the limit as a lesson. But it does not seem to be everything. Death is experienced in the first person but stands out in an omniscient way. In audiovisual media, the articulation of content as both image and meaning - the very question of vision - is processed in the discretionary assembly of objects, that is, a way of discussing reality as fiction and creating coherence, such an end, a verisimilitude.

Artists and the art sphere have always been in charge of contributing discussions relevant to the history of image design. Giotto is the perfect example. Forced by the church to refer to the image of the world from God's own vision, the artist considered a multiple vision plausible. A boldness that nevertheless coincided with the theocratic aspects of the time and of its constituents, the Catholic Church. Can the interior of a house and its exterior be seen simultaneously? Can you consider going around an object while still maintaining the same observation point? The answer mattered opportunely by offering an enriching didactics capable of instructing a wayward and heretical society. Seeing the whole, seeing with the necessary distance to encompass all instances, the heavenly and profane world, the sanguine interior and the skin, the folds and shadows. Who but God could do such a thing, see all the instants, in short, the life and death of an object in a period of time that includes eternity?

But the unknown is not perceived. Perception, then, refers to a way of looking, to the vision of what has already passed through our understanding and we know. Thus the partial image and the framing are two problems that vision offers as forms of the whole. The format does not matter, it does not matter if it is a video game, an illustration or a film. A sequence of images, fixed or moving, does not challenge only partial aspects of a totality that could be said to be unknown in the first instance. The mental reconstruction of an object considers the partial sum of its parts as different positions in space in such a way that under the same light it offers the possibility of understanding it in its totality and in some way identifying it completely. It is clear that perception is not linked to any kind of divination. Even with the technical difficulty of interpreting the mesh geometry of a forearm, we do not doubt either its characteristics or its position. Basically we are doomed to that understanding as it is our own configuration. Arguably, we never see the world in sufficient focus to cut it out and separate it from its immediate context in the same way that we could not observe two objects at the same time. Curiously, the fragments also consider a totality in so much detail. Could we separate a particle of the universe from the galaxies and its vapor of stars? Can we see the eyes of a face and at the same time detail the headband on the neck of the same person? The image is an incomplete global perception blinded by multiple overlays. The audiovisual media appropriated this uncertainty without the viewer understanding that it was their own visual modes that shaped the technique. How much do we see and what do we see about it in an instant? Sequential photography is the technical response to that visual limit, to that nonconformity.

The animated cinema then considered that it should give an answer in turn. Now without bishops, but with an industry capable of seeking with equal insistence the growth of entertainment as if it were seeking the redemption of souls, he discussed the moment as a value of time and also wondered where to stop the interest of the spectator. In other words, we should retain when we witness death. If the cinema owes something to the comic, this is the focus on issues of action, the consecutive image and the development of a character over time, but especially concentrating different visuals in the same shot. For the cinema, portraying death, the moment of that unique and definitive event became a complex task capable of gathering as many options and solutions as results it could have.

Towards the end of the 1400th century, progress and death were announced in newspapers and publications with big headlines that accompanied the voice of their vendors through the streets full of modernity. Still with other data to be analyzed and particular historical references, we can place the beginning of the comic with the appearance of the printing press in the mid-XNUMX's and perhaps its complete installation with the development of lithography and the consolidation of the newspaper as a form of mass communication and for the epoch, remarkably instantaneous.

The news ran from the press to the reader with unprecedented speed. By appropriating a small strip, the comic developed through rapid drawings full of cynicism and irony an extravagant world where the sad could discuss the very reason for things from the fragmented image. As a consequence, the cartoon appealed to unreason to display fantasy about modern reality and uneven progress. In a few vignettes - the unit of organization of the comic - the author could portray a moment of the story through the skillful use of ellipsis and graphic synthesis. This also signified a concrete position in the economy of discourse.

Incidentally, it is not true that there is a must read from left to right in descending order. Not because that is not the structure on which the reading in the West is based, but because this consideration would only end up impoverishing any other alternative. Taking into account that every design is based on a field of restrictions necessary to produce an enormous freedom of action, with respect to what is counted, the instant unit can comprise a multiple reading. The cinema has used it in the same way, and video games have taken it to a paroxysm. The multiple screen is a relevant condition for the optimal distribution of the tools with respect to the work image. In editing applications, technical reading meets the requirement customized of user.

The movie is about to end and judging by all we know, Billy Brown is scared. However, a song simply replaces the ambient noise of the bar and that epic accompanies him as he walks. When he stands in front of Woods, it is nothing but his victim's happiness, his elusive intimacy from view, that moves Billy. In his pocket he carries a small revolver, but enough to finish off the guy cleanly. Of course, the endings are not more important than the story, but if the reasons for revenge seem simple, the suicide bombers, on the other hand, always take the secret to the grave, even with their written confession. Would anyone have time to recant? Could a suicidal person review his words, his anger, his indignation? Therefore the revelation of death is finally about a secret that is veiled from all. Perhaps by way of redemption, advance review, amendment, Billy, right-handed, pulls out the gun, places it on his right temple and looking into Wood's eyes, shoots himself.

In how many pictures could the event of Billy Brown's death be related? With how many omissions? The answer about a Ellipse, perhaps it is, in none. But the evolution of cinema and animation installed something more than mere entertainment, mainly anchored in the passivity of the spectator. The projection room organized a ritual whose ceremony, - at the moment in complete stand by due to the pandemic that is devastating the world - strengthened a new cult against the arts established by history. There is no doubt that the movie theater can be compared to a visual arts room, full of magnetism, ceremony and respect. Thus, in a short time, the cinema ended up winning the game in the upper room of artistic societies so much that in the 40s of the XNUMXth century, and based on some concrete results, they included it on its pedestal. Clearly, it is not about comparing platforms; cinema and comics do not need these disregard. Much less do I try to match their conditions. However, in light of more or less recent events, it was the industry itself that tried to tackle this adventure. Alain Resnais considered it necessary to sharply clarify the performance of a film adaptation from a comic book and was precise: in his opinion the result only found "Subtractions" compared to the original. The video games installed a different way that confronts the passivity of the cinema: total presence.

Just as we could not simply adapt the jump of a kangaroo to the lightness of a bird, in the same way it would not make sense to adapt two so different supports to the same purpose. And this is what languages ​​are all about. They are not adoptable. In no case. Perhaps the discussion and the search for these transformations borders on other needs, that is, on the distorting distribution of wealth that these two work models support. Cultural and monetary wealth. Producing a comic costs a lot less than producing a film. Meanwhile, technologies added an extreme chapter to the movement's production, pushing illustrated history to the confines of boredom.

New technologies will continue to change the scene. The investigation of the engines that both the cinema and the consecutive images of the comic offered to the development of entertainment consolidated animation as a new language. But from Disney to date that communion has had an irregular journey. Animation seems to destroy the very meaning of the language of static frames in the comic, to definitively appropriate the cinematographic format to build the splendor of movement through the drawn image. Since Tom and Jerry until recent Lion King, through Tarantino including in his film Kill Bill an entire scene under the dominance of anime, the results were relative and at times as brilliant as they were innocuous. But the truth is that according to a technique that exceeded the expectations of a format, the animation was distributed like a dense cloud covering all possible areas and determining a kind of tool as a language. By absorbing its qualities, that is, incorporating animation as a technical resource, cinema completed its attributes that already defined it as the seventh art, to keep everything.

After the shot Billy Brown does not scatter on the ground. The camera travels through the humanity of man, surrounding him in a slow shot of varying speed and detail. Although the weapon is stuck to the temple, the precise shot does not produce any movement over the body. There is no time or moment to determine this shift, a phase shift that ignores the gravity that sustains it on the ground. There is time to observe death. It is not the body but the blood that moves and accumulates in the left temple, freezing the liquid velocity in a glassy solid that cannot be decided to spill. The details of blood and death are exposed like a living sculpture. Viscosity turns to glass under a density of strange materiality. The image discusses death that is perhaps momentarily displaced: the shot lasts more than 15 seconds. The movie is Bufallo'66 and the technical process to carry it out is called «Bullet time» also called effect Matrix -a technique patented by Warner Bros and was produced for the video game "The Matrix Online ”-.

With diverse backgrounds, Zotz !, -fantasy film produced and directed by William Castle in 1962— or Smirnoff  —Vodka commercial run by Michel Gondry in 1995—, etc., the Billy Brown suicide sequence in the film discusses the same particular need: to retain, film, and detail the moment of death. The technique known and frequently used today consists of the installation of multiple cameras synchronized temporarily around a subject to be filmed and fired simultaneously in such a way as to separate the image of the subject, of time and space. The technique considers the movement of the point of view from the variable position of each camera, achieving a speed difference between the viewing of the scene and the specific movement of the objects. This sequence of false traveling is the result of the succession of frames captured by different cameras at the same time.

Except for bold directors like Michael Haneke, pain itself has always been an intolerable limit for the entertainment industry. Therefore violent death is almost always anonymous, turning especially to retain the very moment of the projectile approaching the victim before the suffering itself. The cinema has always debated this problem. Even when death is an almost instantaneous event, only pain could be portrayed, the vicissitude of which should develop with more time. In the cinema the killer is not judged. Whoever kills does so simply because it is his function and his differential morality. The graphic resource of the moment and the explosion, which is undoubtedly possible, is taken from the comic without asking for permission. While the cartoonist decides the main vignette, he knows that he can also count on a technical display around that unique and powerful image that unites boom, howl, movement and pain. What in the comic is language, the thing itself, in the cinema provokes an uncertain gloating. The prolongation of the moment of death only achieves an attenuation of pain since it displaces the subject of attention to less disconsolate fields. However, expressed in a vignette, it is death itself.

Directed by Roy Hill and released in 1969, the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, presents a comedy tone that in its time was enough to seduce the audience and thrill them with the story of two romanticized gringo criminals in a bloody South American raid. does to death— stop the imminent end of two brotherly bandits trapped with no way out. It can be said that the reason for this temporary suspension was decided on the need to expose the viewer to the memory of the protagonists before their death, that is, a sensitive device to reflect on morality and the elusive fate of destiny while suspending the outcome. In a different tone, the Turkish film 'Karateci Kız' 'or "Karate Girl" Directed by Orhan Aksoy, released in Turkey in 1973, we see a hilarious sequence. Watered with screams and in slow motion, it lasts a little over a minute. The curiosity is that it is about new shots every time and yet it seems that death will never come.

At present, in any case, with a technique that perfectly disperses the special effects to make them extremely credible, death is portrayed by repeating a single scene developed from different angles, in a linear fashion and always conveniently shot in slow motion. The main idea distributes the same condiments: retain the moment of death to observe it in detail; the very moment in which the flesh gives way to the entry of the projectile into the body, but also the spasm, the collision of the body with the air, the final collapse. It just happens that the kill permission responds only to virtual environments.

En The House that Jack bilt, Lars Von Trier 2018, the director recounts in detail the massacre of his own family. We see disturbing details that directly point to the killer's mind. The resource is not based but to portray the madness, and of course the mental illnesses and the decisions of an individual under the madness are not arguable, unless we talk about them as in this case. A psychopath overrides any other reasoning or reason, to define himself as a single variable in history, unreason. No such thing happens in video games. Although there are records of deaths of gamers due to stress and suicides, and even murders, it certainly does not represent any type of social threat.

But Billy Brown's face is deformed in such a way that it expresses both the shock and the violence of the impact. It can be said that after the shot we began to perceive from a new temporal and spatial reality. Under this diverse cinematic, the shot is definitely frozen so that as spectators we can observe for themselves the result of death. As the camera rotates - the sequence includes a collage of images with the body on the floor - uncertainty and silence take over everything. The montage is not indolent. Perhaps we do not care about his death. the reality is that the viewer does not expect that outcome; Billy Brown is a kind of frightened child guided by a despicable misogyny.

In the entertainment industry, death is a punishment borne by waiting, restarting and in some cases with a kind of penalty or impediment. Learning responds to a direct relationship of the number of deaths per hours lived, knowledge that could achieve a kind of eternity. It could be said that there is indolence even under the formats permadeath, where we are directly responsible for our own death. While virtual environments capture the aesthetic development of the Bullet Time technique with great results for gamers: seeing themselves inside and outside the scene, perceiving themselves as active subjects of action and spectators of themselves.

To cite an isolated example, in Max Payne the former detective, restart his life as a private security in Brazil; however he fights not only for his clients but to save his name from a past that haunts him[1]. Animation, —developed with even better results in Mafia2 for the adventures of the bandit Vito-, manages to navigate the subjectivity of a story that unfolds under a constant kinematics, probably relativizing the relationship between the stimulus and the reaction as a response as a story of customs and history. The technique seeks to establish a dynamic relationship between frame, context and character to accentuate the narration from the third person to the first with great fluidity and immersion. Once again we must not only face our enemies but we must fight for our lives within the unique experience of seeking death.

Aftermath Laika, June 2021

[1] Video Game scooter in 3rd person single player and multiplayer developed by Rockstar Studios. 2012. Creative Director: Sergei Kuprejanov, Associate Producer: Carle Audia, Lead Designer: Jason Bone, Lead Scripter: Grant Arundell for various platforms PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360, May 15, 2018, May 18, 2012 Microsoft Windows, May 29 May 2012, June 1, 2012, Mac OS X, June 20, 2013