Once considered a stigma in society, tattoos have become the norm for everyone. What better way for those in power to keep track of each and every individual’s life, by having them emblazon their life story across their own body? Gone is the need to dig up personal documents, financial statements or medical records to figure out the background of a person. Just look at their body! Dictated by the ruling party, every milestone in life will be commemorated with a suitable tattoo. Just graduated? Get a tattoo. Got a promotion? Get a tattoo. Got into a relationship, or just came out of a break up? Get a tattoo. People no longer hire clowns or face painters at birthday parties, but a tattoo artist instead. Responding to the drastic increase in demand, tattoo artists are constantly on call and have developed a wearable worksite that enables them to take appointments outside of their traditional studio setting.
The movie I watched was “The Titans” (2018). It is an American science fiction thriller film featuring Earth in the year 2048. Due to overpopulation, scientist are looking towards Saturn’s moon, Titan, as a possible new home for mankind. The movie entails elements of genetic manipulation to “mutate” the chosen group of military personnel into a new species that could survive in the harsh condition of Titan. (I shall not spoil the storyline further!)
A small design decision that the producer made was this mini projector which Abigail switched on in her son’s room after putting her son to sleep. Although minute, its UFO and metallic outlook with wires connected on it connotes a technologically advanced world. The galaxy image projected, was not reflected on flat surface like what we have today. The image/scene was projected through air, changing the entire ambiance and setting of the room.
The movie I watched is Total Recall (2012). A small design decision they made was implanting phones in the palms of characters’ hands. The phones light up under the skin when receiving calls, and characters just have to hold their hands to their ears to speak. Glass surfaces transform into display screens when characters place their hands on them during a phone call or upon receiving text message notifications.
I viewed the film 2046, in which the titular science fiction world is situated via mise en abyme within the film’s storyworld: A futuristic realm governed by memory and loss, as crafted by the lovelorn writer, Chow. On a high-speed train out of 2046, the written protagonist is told of the existence of a series of android cabin attendants that cater to passengers’ every need — the only caveat being that one must never fall in love with them.
In a scene where one of the android attendants refuse to leave with the protagonist, I was quite taken with a minute design decision that manifest through the character’s costuming: A piece of one-sided, metallic earwear, glowing red along its underside, in consonance with the crimson-lit set. Its function is never explained, nor is it seen to be used by the character. Yet, its sleek appearance, along with the character’s figure behaviour and costuming, help to craft the figure of the android as the unfathomable technobeing incapable (?) of affection.
One small design decision made in the movie that I realised was the asymmetrically-designed Scav Binoculars. Unlike regular binoculars that have symmetrical lenses on both sides, these binoculars have one side that is clearly a lot larger than the other.
The film is set in the year 2077, where humans have fled the Earth after a race of aliens known as “Scavs” had devastated the planet. Early on in the film, we see a Scav spying on the protagonist, Jack Harper (played by Tom Cruise), using one of these Scav Binoculars.
As a regular movie viewer, one might think that the Scav Binoculars are really strange, and assume that it is alien technology. (Did the Scavs design it that way because they had one eye that was a lot larger than the other?)
However, later on in the movie (spoilers), there is a big plot twist where it is revealed that the Scavs are human after all (they were wearing masks the whole movie so they always looked like aliens to the movie audience). I think the design of these binoculars (by the filmmakers) is brilliant, because at a first glance, one might naturally associate it with being alien technology because it looks nothing like the technology we have in our world today, but upon viewing the movie for a second time (after knowing that the Scavs were human from the very beginning), the binoculars actually look like it could be used by regular humans when you think about it. Each side of the binoculars actually gives a different view (left: visible light, right: infrared) as seen in the image above. Although these binoculars only appear for a few seconds in the film, its the small design decisions like this that really build the world and serve as “easter eggs” for audiences to catch upon repeat viewings.
The movie that we watched together was Okja. One small design decision that was incorporated was a meat extractor gun, used to extract meat samples from live pigs (in this case, superpigs), without killing its subject. The procedure was briefly explained to us via the iPad scene, where visual instructions were displayed on the screen; and the end product was shown in the following scene to give a complete visualisation of the futuristic product that was introduced. It other than the main movie detail of the “superpig”, the introduction of this device allow us to understand that the movie’s storyworld is different from the world that we are living in.
The movie iBoy creates a science fiction narrative by the projection of glitchy looking rows of code from electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones as well as from buildings to show the extent of Tom’s ‘powers’. When the audience sees these scenes, we can automatically understand that this is a science fiction movie that is not grounded in reality. Tom had somehow acquired these ‘powers’ after bits of his cellphone was embedded in his brain after a violent attack.
One small design decision made in the movie that I noticed was the collapsible iPad-like device that a student was using to view James Halliday’s pre-recorded message announcing a game that grants the winner full ownership of the OASIS.
Instead of a regular tablet that looks like a block of metal, the one is the movie looks like it consists of two longitudinal objects that when pulled apart, reveals the screen. Its space-saving sleekness really points towards a time in the possible future where technology has progressed even further to provide even more portable table computer devices.
The GUI that we see from the movie that range from the simple design of door latch actuators to the massively complex setting of battle simulations was designed by Ash Throp who was the Lead Motion Graphics Designer. It had a very minimal yet condensed feel to it which helped in the final battle scene. Even though they were assumably full of data, it kept the hull of the ship pretty neat and tidy, which would help Enders to assimilate what was going on while having the big picture of the final battle. The fluid motion of the zoom-ins and the ability to have a cross section view of the battleship fighting through the swarm of Buggers gamifies the battle, which adds to the moral dilemma which was expressed in the book originally by the author.
One small design decision I noticed was the operating system (OS1) designed for the near future (think 2050), one seemingly familiar to us but has capabilities way beyond our time (2018). Like modern day operating systems, OS1 offers user customisation but its exquisite intuitiveness and responsiveness – far beyond what Apple’s iOS or Siri can do today – is seen from the creation of a highly personalised artificial intelligence called Samantha, merely based on a casual conversation with Theodore (guy in red). As viewers might have guessed it, Samantha is just as smart as OS1. Subtle hints as such thus frame viewers’ concept of time successfully by bringing them into the near future through future but predictable technology, whose abilities can potentially be extrapolated and anticipated.