Small Design Decision – Clare Chang

One small design decision I noticed in Click the movie was the use of a simple remote control. The basic utility of the remote with all its’ buttons is taken to another level where it becomes a time control gadget. It amplifies how a design does not necessarily always have to be something elaborate and it can be an adaptation from an everyday device. 

Small Design Decision – Reyna Corrales

The movie that I watched was Mr. Nobody (2009). It is about Nemo Nobody (yep, that’s his name) a 117-year-old- man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race achieved quasi-immortality. Before he dies, he recounts his “past” when he had to make a critical decision and we get to examine the speculative narrative of alternative life paths he could have lived with three different women. Essentially, it is a story about choice and the ‘what ifs’ of life.

A small design decision that I noticed was the use of genetic pigs as the immortality technology in the year of 2092. Every person (except Nemo) has genetically compatible pet pigs. Instead of food, the pigs are harvested for stem cells which allow an endless renewal of cells and thus, everlasting life for humanity.

Watch the whole futuristic world set-up here: 

Small Design Decision – Wendy Neo

I’m currently watching Maniac on Netflix, it is a really interesting show about psychology and pharmaceutical drugs, starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. It seems like it is set around 1980-1990s, from observation of the surroundings and technology. One cool thing about the show is that the technology is “old” but the ideas and concepts behind it is very modern. For example, the characters played by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill are in a pharmaceutical trial that aims to cure the brain of all suffering 

One small design decision is that a lot of things in the show are neon and brightly coloured. 

Oral-B Blue Neon Sign in Maniac: The Chosen One! (2018) TV Show Product Placement
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There is also a lot of advertising, as seen from the huge neon oral-B sign from the first photo. Kinda weird that you would need a neon sign for a brand that sells oral hygiene products. 

Small Design Decision – Ruocha Wang

“Black Museum” of the series Black Mirror consists of a series of three stories told by a museum narrator that all involve cutting-edge technological connections and transfers with the human brain.

The setup of the hospital looks old-fashioned: bulky medical instruments, decolored wall charts of the brain, wooden doorframes with visible metal pins… making us feel that the stories happened a long time ago. It matches one of the core ideas of Black Mirror that all these disturbing things can already happen, or happen in the near future. However, the “cutting-edge technology” in the story doesn’t exist in our time yet. Therefore there are some small design decisions in the episode that reminds us of the difference between the story world and our world.

The strange yellow “incubator” in the background. We don’t know what it does. But we know it is something related to transferring consciousness.

The blue dots display that occurred many times. Again, we don’t know what it shows. But following this scene the hero mentioned “brain enhancement”, “neural interface” and other terms. The display gives context and makes these concepts more convincing.

A raw of which machines on the table. Are they 3D printers? What are they printing? We don’t know. But it surely it makes us feel that something high-tech is happening in the lab.

Small Design Decision-Allison

I decided to watch Arrival, which was an absolutely amazing movie. Arrival is a movie about a set of alien pods landing on earth out of the blue, and causing mass hysteria internationally. It becomes the goal of all nations to find out why they are here and linguists must race to learn their language in order to understand them.

Image result for heptapod spaceship

My favourite design decision from arrival were the alien spaceship pods themselves, called heptapods after their alien owners. They are not necessarily a small design decision, but they are not the core focus of the movie (the language is), so I consider the actual design of the spaceships useful for creating a believable environment. Everything in the movie made things feel like they were happening not far from the present, and I think this was intentional. Even the pods themselves did not feature any super high tech insane designs, they were simply oval shaped and grey. This made the movie more realistic because it didn’t take a giant leap to believe that aliens that are very different from humans would have spaceships that humans themselves couldn’t understand. High tech for humans and the way that humans imagine aliens to be is not necessarily how they will be. So making the alien arrival experience confusing and very nondescript made things more realistic. 

Image result for heptapod spaceship

Small Design Decision — Celine Goh

The movie I watched over the weekend was the horror-gripping Get Out. If you think this was just a movie about black-vs-white struggles encapsulated in a horror thriller package, think again. 

Get Out actually embraces modern-day cultural thematics and loops in the sci-fi when the Whites plot to take-over the Blacks, this time by implanting their consciousness from their dying White bodies into healthy Black bodies with specific talents (sports, artistic etc.) that the Black may have.

I found that this idea was pretty interesting since it actually covers both the physical and the mental realms of B&W struggles through a very jarring and grosteque cinematography and plotline. Also, this movie touches on Afrofuturism whereby the stories have black people as protagonists, which is pretty rare for horror films (since they are usually killed off..)

And during the finale, when Chris sees police lights on the dark road, he immediately puts his hands up, despite being the one in danger. You can read more about that here.

The design detail that intrigued me the most was the flashlight on the phone which shed light on the protagonist’s fears that something was amiss.

When flashed, the light on the phone awakens the hidden Black consciousness that was suppressed by the White conscious, allowing the Black to momentarily take back control of his/her own body.

Even at the end, the protagonist, being attacked and almost killed by one of the Blacks-possessed-consciously-by-a-White, used his flashlight on his phone to shock the attacker such that he is unleashed from his shackles.

Since cellphone footage has been instrumental in revealing police brutality cases in America regarding racial biases, it was an apt portrayal through the movie that the flashlight phone camera was the one technological tool that ‘unlocked’ and unleashed the racial suppression within the physical bodies of the Blacks.

Small Design Decision – Vashon

The movie I watched was “Her” (2013). The best part of the film was that technology was undeniably present, yet at the same time it was incorporated seamlessly into the lifestyle of the main character. 

A small design decision was that everything that was technological in this film was almost entirely voice-activated. There is no keyboard or mouse for you to interact with the technologies used in the film. Through this subtle removal of technology as opposed to only introducing new ones, the film was able to bring out a very important dynamic that the main character, Theodore, has with his artifical OS girlfriend, Samantha — reliability. 

It was also believable due to the way voice activation was portrayed which isn’t far fetched as one might think, as we imagine the way technology tends to be handled in our world and possibly in this type of future. 

Small Design Decision – Tracy Leong

Show watched: Black Mirror (Season 4, Episode 2) – Arkangel

The premise of Arkangel is that parents can install a chip in their child’s head, granting them something akin to omnipresence. With the chip and an accompanying linked tablet, parents can see what their child sees, ‘blur’ out things that they deem harmful or stressful to their child and track their location at all times. The episode centers around the device that is presented like any other mobile application on a tablet: sleek, clean and beautifully designed.

However, I noticed the small design decision made on how the chip is implanted into the child’s head. Instead of having to bring a knife to the scalp or showing any blood, they designed the implant device as a small cylindrical tube with a sharp needle-like structure at one end.

The device is brought to the child’s temple and pressed firmly against their scalp, with no signs of discomfort or pain exhibited by the child. This design  falls in line with how advanced the technology is. Additionally, the lack of blood or any incision required during the implant process suggests how the programme is geared towards children.

Small Design Decision – Loke Ting Wei

Show watched: Black Mirror’s White Bear (Season 2 Episode 2)

The episode is essentially about how Victoria was punished by the public as together with her fiancé, Iain Rannoch, they abducted a girl called Jemima, and Iain, tortured and killed the girl before burning her body. Victoria did not help, but recorded his actions on her mobile phone. To punish her, the public wiped Victoria’s memory with these neurotransmitter, which can completely wipe out one’s memory. Victoria was then sentenced to undergo the daily punishment in the “White Bear Justice Park”, named after Jemima’s teddy bear, where is she being pursued by killers and people act as passive voyeurs and film it down without helping her.

Upon researching on the web, I realise that researchers have taken a step toward the possibility of tuning the strength of memory by manipulating one of the brain’s natural mechanisms for signaling involved in memory, a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

Does this mean that in the future, we can wipe out any memory that we want to forget forever? What is previously Black Mirror might actually become true in the future. This might bring benefits too – imagine if we could enhance good memories for patients suffering from dementia and remove bad memories for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Back to the episode, the neurotransmitter is designed to be intuitive and has a eerie beeping with blue light, to signal that it is doing its work. Its form resembles that of a mini stethoscope, with a flat surface to put snugly on the temples’ skin. It is also conveniently worn around the head. Upon wearing it, screams can be heard from the pain caused by the seemingly small but powerful device.

Another concept design detail in the movie is how every screen around the storyworld displays the same symbol – the iconic tattoo that Iain had on his neck. This perhaps increases the sinister nature of the killers, but more importantly, is a symbol of the danger where people may be less and less empathetic towards the plight of less privileged people or victims shown on social media. They may simply be yet another image above the share button, and the episode explores if our society will become filled with passive onlookers/voyeurs one day. 

Small Design Decision – Charmaine Goh Si Min

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.