Dunkirk as a MAYA & Strangeization sensorial experience

I remember a scene from this movie, Sex, Lies and Videotapes, which won a Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. It was just a dialog between two characters, with a strange sound behind.

One would wonder what was this sound made of. Construction workers in the street behind the closed window, or abstract clinking soundtrack? It was disturbing, diverting and rerouting the whole scene : the dialog, the mood, the meaning of it. And thus… I never forgot it!

 

Yesterday I watched Dunkirk, the 2017 Christopher Nolan war film. Wiki says that the audio mixing team only was made of eight people!

One friend warned it to me before : the film puts you in a stress mode because of the SOUND. The music, textures, sound effects (including the fascinating Shepard_tone – which is an auditory illusion) are different. The stories (we follow three wires : on sea, in air, on earth) are kaleidoscoping. The movie sounds (helmet communication in planes, bullets impacts, bombs) are realistic (therefore you never hear them like that – excepted in Private Ryan). All this build a strong and effective symphony of war and survival. With oddness.

What’s the tool, dear?

STRANGEIZATION

I wrote this article a long time ago to explain strangeization :

Strangeization Tool & Eyebrow Criteria

“Distort some elements to catch back the interest of the audience”

Have a strange punctuation. Use inappropriate music. Add dissonances. The purpose is manipulation, here.

  1. An attentive viewer will have fun.
  2. An inattentive viewer will get your elbowpoke : “Hey, look, it’s different!”. Then he’s dropped into category one!

 

MAYA : most-advanced-yet-acceptable/ …is the secret for success with strangeization. Disturb, but not too much, or you’ll lose your public with avant-garde nausea.

MAYA is here like the restraining operator of Strangeization

Why not using it today? Where? Poetry or Photography? What else?

Have a nice day!

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PS : I would love to add this : My father’s father died in this war. And his grandfather in WWI. He didn’t remember his father, his voice, nothing. Just a coffin. He was too little. In a way, I’ve the consequences of 39-45 in my flesh. And I remember his emotion when he told me about the tall American soldier who jumped from a tank and gave him a chewing-gum tablet. He was a little boy. You guys saved our asses. Thank you.

Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable (MAYA) is a Raymond Loewy‘s principle about Design. I like this idea for many reasons.

It speaks about a limit, a frontier : your object, your “invention” tries to bring something new, but… if it’s too new, you lose the audience, you irritate people.

It’s a concept you can use on other territories. Web Design, of course. But also in many forms of Arts.

This “Tool” is a combination.

  • Lever (from simple to complex)
  • Dial (measuring where the audience is, from bored, to interested, to irritated or lost).

Who grasp this idea? Designers, Web Designers, Architects, and all artists who take care about the audience, of course.

Of course you have in mind the “pure artists” who are stubborn geniuses (or stubborn lonely “under rated”, haha). They have their own mind, their creativity. They create. Take it or leave it, guys! Their work falls, for a given audience, in these 4 categories :

  1. Boring simple zone “Whatever, it’s nothing new!”
  2. Comfort mainstream zone “Cool, I like it”
  3. Waow zone “This is new and great!”
  4. Failing zone “It’s weird, I don’t understand!”

Of course you have to consider the idea of being ahead of your time. Then it becomes Most Advanced, Unacceptable… but Acceptable one day! Well, maybe!

Tool/Lever/Dial Questions :

Where do you put your own lever, from creativity to take care of the audience? What can MAYA mean to a photographer? A poet? Could you apply that to your life? Where? Sex? Parenting? Where do you want to be ahead of your time? Where is the “risk” dial? Where can be the danger of “taking care too much” about the audience? Where’s the danger in Screen-Tests, in the movies? What about nuggets of Advanced/Unacceptable elements in a mainstream work? What is Avant-Garde? What if “You don’t know your audience that much”?

 

Sorry for my English. Thanks for reading!