Despite the evocative tagline, the sweat shop The Wiz (1978) villain Evillene runs below the streets of New York City seems more conventional than not. It seems that the laborers are working on *some* sort of apparel apparatus, but the sewing machines melt along with their mistress.
As we’ve already suggested, Jurassic World has the potential to truly revel in the kind of functioning park we were never really able to see in the original film. The recent release of marketing material for the forthcoming blockbuster spares no expense, offering exactly the kind of publicity we would expect for any world-class contemporary zoo.
This Christmas classic transcends its place as a relatively mediocre suburban survival story when it ventures into slapstick. The most captivating part is the planning, when Kevin’s precisely honed logistical senses meet with the power of plot to force the not yet notorious Wet Bandits through an (almost) perfect procession of pain.
Dune is not subtle in examination of the logistical constraints that bind the fate of the galaxy to the planet Arrakis, to the spice Melange that is found only there. In its narrative, the gears of civilization move only through the regular supply of this, the most precious and valuable commodity in the universe—the singular substance through which the navigation of space is possible.
On this very night, ten years ago, on this same stretch of road, in the dense fog, just like this, I saw the worse accident I ever seen. There was this sound, like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building. And when they finally pulled the driver’s body from the twisted, burning, WRECK, it looked like… THIS!
This prototype from the creator of Papers, Please puts its player in the role of an insurance adjustor for the East India Company, tasking them with investigating the mysterious return of the lost ship “Obra Dinn.” A ghost story in classic Mac game style.
At Lines and Nodes, the day-long conference and weekend-long film series that began today at NYU, our discussion of the aesthetic dimensions of extraction and infrastructure began with Finn Brunton’s recognition of the “infrastructural tracking shot.” In the strange sort of material aesthetic Johnny Mnemonic (1995) deploys for its designs of the digital, Brunton finds an exemplar for exactly this kind of maneuver.
Despite its famous cover featuring the Battersea Power Station, the infrastructural analysis performed in Animals (1977) is more closely attuned to the structural emanations of the beasts themselves.
In the video, Clark stands in for Metropolis’ automaton, complete with mechanized movements — all geometric lines and robotic stare. But where Lang’s world is all moody black-and-white, Clark and Moya paint a surreal, pastel-hued future soundtracked by St. Vincent’s funky, horn-infused dancey track.
What do you do as an architect living in a country that sets limits on and penalties for architectural design? …During the Cold War, the brave and inventive architects of the Soviet Union did not cease to advance their cause. They continued to explore their ideas in several ways, including one very simple but dangerous method: they drew what they couldn’t build, and thus invented paper architecture.
Every life is a series of choices. Some are large, and some are small. And if logistics is the science of detail, as Jomini wrote, every life must play out as an experiment for which the outcome can never be analyzed. The details build towards a future that stands as the terrible object of an uncertain construction, wrought by every decision of existence.
Long before humanity had reached that closest object of our celestial imagination, we’d already imagined ways of getting there. Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (1865) offers the mighty cannon as the most efficient means of long distance travel, lunar locomotion which evokes a spatial simplicity not well realized in the harsh reality of the complex mathematics for practical travel outside of our atmosphere.
In the drought plagued world of Tank Girl (the 1995 film, inspired by the British comic) water is literally power—the imagination of utilitarian monopoly transcending its expected social and political limitations.
The Working Group contribution to the TIPCC’s First Assessment Report (AR1) considers cumulative evidence of climate change based on many independent scientific analyses from observations of the climate system, paleoclimate archives, theoretical studies of climate processes and simulations using climate models. It represents a first concerted attempt to address the possible long term effects on the Tatooine geological and biodiversity systems, particularly as it pertains to the current unregulated practice of water mining.
Borders are the logistical mechanics of separation. In the absence of clear geographic boundaries they are little more than arbitrary divisions of space—legal fictions producing territorialized landscapes with frustratingly real consequences for the humans and nonhumans who must cross them. Sometimes porous and permeable, they can rapidly ossify into rigid and resistant markers of permanent exclusion. Perhaps the most dramatic imagination of the absurdity of these fictions is given by China Miéville’s account of the vaguely Balkan cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma in The City and the City (2009). Evoking something akin to (but different from) the absurd division of Berlin or the markers carving up Jerusalem, the mirrored cities of the book are just as evident in the class divisions of everyday urban life—neighborhoods unvisited, people unseen.
It is clear to anyone who has viewed one of the (now three) adaptations of La Planète des Singes (1963) that there is something important about the presentation of this particular moment in the evolution of the apes (and of ape society). The gripping visuality of ape on horseback is both explicitly evocative of a deliberately intentional meaning and promiscuously open to all manner of polysemiotic purchase.
Whether or not Batgirl’s new outfit trades one representational trope for another, there is no denying that it is noticeably more sensible—the kind of thing you could imagine putting together at the mall in short notice. As long as you have a cape, a mask, a utility belt, some leather friendly paint, and can cut a mean stencil.
Sitting and talking and eating and chewing and swallowing creates a familiar situation that’s full of minor distractions and opportunities for bits of business, creating a relaxed setting for great speeches to seem completely unrehearsed. Characters passing time together in a living room or bedroom or parked car changes the nature of the conversation—great speeches can be delivered anywhere, but in those non-table situations, the characters are somewhat deliberately choosing to remain together long enough to discuss something, and we’re subconsciously aware there’s nothing keeping them there. They could up and leave without much consequence, as opposed to abandoning a meal half-eaten, or uneaten, which makes a relatively big statement.
Fraggle Rock is a world of the radish. The Gorg grow them (for their anti-invisible “youth and beauty cream”). The Doozers mine them (for their elaborately industrious constructions). And the Fraggles eat them (either raw, or after they’ve been shaped into Doozer sticks). As the Doozer Cotterpin says: “Architecture was meant to be enjoyed.”
Although we have only few details from the film, it will be interesting to see if *Jurassic World* inherits more, as it seems to, from the contemporary pattern and practice of first-rate zoos than from the safari-esque animal park of the original. I’m also keen to see if they have spared any expense with regard to the development of their park management software.
Unlike their competitors, the Marvel Universe has long inhabited geographies more familiar to us than Metropolis, Gotham, or Smallville. While these spatial constraints may contribute to a less fantastical and fluid environment, it also helps to ground characters in contemporary culture, politics, and place. Trends towards urbanization and gentrification impact superhero and citizen alike, and this spatial consistency has produced groupings of characters who frequently interact in their respective geographies. And it should be no surprise that New York, even without its secret identity as Gotham, is the most super city.
At turns wonderfully evocative, spectacularly heavy-handed, and frustratingly impotent. Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer (2013) skillfully realizes a fantastically dystopian setting drawn from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige (1982) where all of humanity lives on a single train powered by an eternal engine. Within, the temporary institution of the certain kind of class which accompanies our travels embraces its etymological fullness, as the materially oppressive confines of humanity’s daily life.
"The Homer" (also known as "The Car Built for Homer") was an infamous concept car that yielded disastrous financial results for the company that produced it, Powell Motors.
The thrills of 2012’s Argo are borne out of the real-life rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis (the so-called “Canadian Caper”). At its core is a carefully constructed story about false film production, clandestine location scouting, and a science-fiction future that would never be realized.
If you eat a meal at Sisko’s Creole Kitchen, do you pay? It seems almost definite that you don’t pay. If you paid, with anything, including Federation Credits, that would be money. You could barter, but it seems if the entire economy was a barter economy, we’d hear it. No, it seems almost certain that you go to eat at Sisko’s, you don’t pay, and Joseph Sisko doesn’t pay for his supplies, and his suppliers probably don’t pay for theirs.
Spiderman’s preferred form of locomotion is one of the truly great logistical fictions—we simply want to believe it is possible. If other superheroes fly (or can run and jump with enough force to approximate it), the idea of sticky spiderweb as means of transportive connection seems (in contrast) a realistically (super)natural alternative. But while Times Square is a somewhat believable scene for the Web Crawler, there are far fewer parts of the city than one might imagine that are “web accessible.” While organic production has its own materiality, prior formulations leave questions about exactly how the scientific mind of Peter Parker was able to come up with a web-shooting device that works as long (or as reliably) as it did—failing only at the most (in)convenient of moments.
The factory in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971, adapted from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is not very much like a factory at all. Or rather, removed from all of the jagged edges that comprise our biting accounts of industrialization, it appears as the dream of a factory in place of its reality.
Seinfeld’s establishing shots emphasize the role real locations played in making up the show’s fictional—sometimes surreal—portrayal of New York City. But in this supercut, the familiar funk of the show’s musical riffs begin and end in rapid succession. It produces, initially, a disconcerting effect—a kind of nothingness defined by the suspension of movement, of repetition, and of continually denying resolution to the viewer. As the music diminishes and the shots become more varied, it offers a gradual suppression of suspension opening into a hauntingly bleak vision of the show’s world: an empty, uninhabited segmentation of New York City. Through it all the convention of the form, the establishing shot, becomes a kind of mocking specter of loneliness, of desperation, and finally of despair.
Anthologies have often struggled with the need to contextualize the disparate stories on offer each week. The Twilight Zone brought Rod Sterling’s famous narration, Tales from the Crypt couched each story in the infectious cackles of the Crypt Keeper before inevitably zooming into a corresponding comic. But Goosebumps took the material inspiration for its stories a step farther, positing a world in which the pages spilling out from the mysterious strangers briefcase (marked “R.L. Stine”) enact a kind of material dissemination of darkness within the otherwise tranquil town below.
While some Transformers (like the Dinobots) have developed more elaborate transformations, the original crew tend towards more mundane logistical forms. The most iconic is Optimus Prime’s excursion from his recognizably robotic position as leader of the Autobots to the (other) toy marketing executives most associate with young male children.
In opposition to the flexible technologies of demand that accompany most logistical calls to action, the Bat-Signal’s blunt simplicity can be directed only to one fixed and singular purpose. Of all the various mechanisms for unleashing the crime-fighting potential of the caped crusader (including the rather more mundane, but daytime friendly, Bat Phone), none offers the iconic instantaneity of this illuminating symbol of justice within the darkness of Gotham City.
In a refreshingly materialist spin on the spiritual, Ghostbusters (1984) is forced to forge new ground in its efforts to exorcise ectoplasmic emanations. Acting at the intersection of supernatural studies and paranormal pest control, the logistics for the capture and containment of the undead finds form in proton packs (where the nuclear powered proton stream counters negative energy with a stream of positively charged ions) and the laser grid containment unit.
While the temporal annihilation associated with modern telecommunication heralds a key historical triumph, the Weasley family clock from Harry Potter makes the association between logistics, time, and space more explicit. From the living room at the Burrow, the clock’s nine golden hands tie each member of the household to a series of possible geographies, including home, school, work, traveling, lost, hospital, prison, and (most notably) mortal peril.
After Wal-Mart stand-in Buy ‘n’ Large’s brand of mass consumerism leaves the earth a wasteland of garbage, human evacuation leaves behind a logistical cleanup crew of WALL-Es (Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth-Class). While WALL-E’s 700 year service is impressive, it’s the logistical operations in the stars above that deserve the most attention.
In “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive/ Everyone’s out on the run tonight but there’s no place left to hide.”
Batman Begins (2005). Since a significant component of the film’s plot is a drug smuggling operation orchestrated by Carmine Falcone, Jonathan Crane, and a mysterious mastermind, it is only fitting that the dark knight’s first costumed reveal takes place at the Gotham city docks.
It shouldn’t be surprising that a movie whose premise rests on energy production offers a rich landscape for exploring alternative imaginations of a monstrous interpretation of logistics. Monsters, Inc. (2001) follows its protagonists through a nightmarish world where energy and economic infrastructures are primarily founded on fear (or more specifically, screams).
Newman “crunching the numbers” in one of Seinfeld’s most logistically dense episodes. The Bottle Deposit (1996) hinges on taking advantage of an (almost) empty mail truck and the 10¢ refund offered by the state of Michigan.
Delta City would stand above the ruins of Old Detroit as the realization of the dream for an efficient, clean, and above all, harmonious, city. But most importantly, it would offer an “unending project with unending rewards” for Omni Consumer Products, the only steward in service to the city’s maintenance, safety, and security.
Minority report doubles down on its futuristic imaginations. Cops with jetpacks, crawling spider drones, and (of course) automated cars. While the movie deserves credit for its unusual highway design, the most striking image of futuristic imagination is the productive promise of the factory sequence: cars assembled in an (otherwise) empty factory.
While self-driving cars may soon be an everyday automative reality, they’ve long been a robust logistical fantasy. While films like Minority Report and I, Robot both toy with the idea, it has never been so wonderfully realized as in Total Recall (1990). In marrying a creepy animatronic driver to an autonomous vehicle with poor voice recognition, it seems to have provided a grimly accurate speculation for our coming transportive future.
The Doctor and the Tardis are nearly synonymous. While the ability to travel freely in time and space seems like it would provide instantaneous access, the Tardis is often waylaid by inconvenient landing locations, temporal miscalculations, and strangely inaccessible locales.
Papers, Please, the self-proclaimed “dystopian document thriller,” places players in the role of immigration inspector for the glorious nation of Arstotzka. With the country only recently having reopened its border, you soon find your desk overflowing with the forms, passports, visas, and other documents of the hopeful travelers who line up each and every morning. While this would seem to offer an unappealing afternoon of gameplay, your bureaucratic business is soon laden with unforeseen ramifications for life and death as you process a seemingly endless stream of suicide bombers, smugglers, and survivors.
This overlooked masterpiece carefully choreographs the internal and external conflicts of the men assigned to the transportation of unstable quantities of nitroglycerin.
The flawed adaptation of Asimov’s “I, Robot” collection manages to juxtapose its protagonist’s precisely contemporary nostalgia with a future built from logistical changes in the pattern of daily life—from the robots themselves, to vehicles for their transport and delivery, to the terrifying vision of the Lake Michigan lakebed crammed with storage containers of obsolete models.
One of the more familiar examples of Rube Goldberg machines, Pee-wee’s elaborate contraption, while not at all efficient in the conventional sense, seems to operate precisely to the particulars that Herman has specified.
How many Jawas can you fit inside a sandcrawler? Various schematics at various scales for the myriad of transportation technologies in Star Wars. Countless defenses have been offered to provide practicality for the AT-AT’s clunky locomotion, but the justification is obvious. It looks cool.
The greatest logistical invention in the history of humankind is transformed into a gruesome brundlebox because of a seemingly irrational drive to transport organics in David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986).
Where do all the Kaiju live? Good question. Initial forays into the genre were content to have giant monsters awaken deep under the sea, but the increasing population (and frequency) of these atomic attacks began to necessitate a logistical solution to explain their regular appearances. While recent entrant Pacific Rim solves this problem with less fanfare—Kaiju arrive via dimensional rift at the bottom of the ocean floor—Toho offered Monsterland and Monster Island as (sort of) different homes for Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and the rest. Brought there by the United Nations, or by the dreams of children everywhere, you can be sure they are in reasonable proximity to Tokyo.
Like Chekhov’s gun, Ellen Ripley’s skill with a Weyland-Yutani manufactured powerloader delivers a crushing demonstration of logistical force in the final act of Aliens (1986).
Baum’s “road of yellow brick” (and its allegorical reference to the gold standard) becomes MGM’s famous "Yellow Brick Road,” the seemingly only relevant and reliable path through the whole of Oz.
Before a later film revealed its boring mundanity, the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark surfaced as a kind of Überwarehouse, a seemingly infinite repository of all manner of myths and magicks–carefully catalogued by “top men.”
Varok Saurfang gives a lesson in the logistics of supplying Warsong Hold to an impatient Garrosh Hellscream in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. “Our only viable port for resupply is held by the Forsaken on the other side of this blasted continent!”