Life forms on the holodeck.

Michaël Samyn, April 19, 2012

Today I have added seagulls to the beach in Bientôt l’été. After careful analysis of the videos we recorded in Trouville, I created a lively bunch of birds, out of just a few simple animations and rudimentary AI.

It helps that seagulls are kind of weird, especially when interacting with the sea. They’re completely unafraid of the water. They hardly budge when a wave rolls in while they’re standing at the shoreline, all together facing the same direction. And when they fly, there’s more soaring on the wind than actual flapping of wings. The latter is even rather rough, not as elegant as other birds.

I wasn’t sure if the seagulls were going to work aesthetically, since the scene is so empty otherwise. But they do.

It’s actually quite interesting, I think. The addition of another life form, next to the avatar -whom you more or less take for granted-, adds a new layer of life to the place. This is especially poignant, I find, when contrasted with the rather overwhelming view of outer space. The seagulls look so small and so fragile. I feel like I must protect them.

Even the fact that they are exposed as an illusion when we realize that the beach scene is playing on a holodeck, has its charm. The gulls are the one living creature we represent in this fantasy, far away from the natural environment we share, our home planet Earth. The memory makes them feel very precious.

There’s something odd going on with Bientot l’été. It’s becoming its own thing, it’s starting to move away from its original inspirations, to become richer. I wonder what it’s trying to tell me.

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