Modern Times is a 1936 American part-talkie satirical romantic black comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a commentary on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression — conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization.
California Typewriter : A Love Letter to a Dying Technology
Tom Hanks is a collector of typewriters, and in this documentary he and John Mayer lend their voices in talking about the bittersweet moment when a beloved-but-dying technology, the typewriter faces extinction.
Winner of Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking: Directing at the Newport Beach Festival.
Best of Art of Noise
Art of Noise were an English avant-garde synth-pop group formed in early 1983. The group's mostly instrumental compositions were novel melodic sound collages based on digital sampler technology, which was new at the time.
In 1986, the album track Paranoimia achieved some success when a remix of it was released as a single with overdubbed vocal samples provided by Matt Frewer as the supposedly computer-generated character Max Headroom.
Do you ever feel like technology has become an intrusion on your music enjoyment? Do you prefer listening to acoustic instruments over snazzy synthesizers and kill-joy keyboards? If so, MTV Unplugged albums may be worthy of your attention. MTV Unplugged is a television series featuring acoustic performances by various respected musicians. Many of the artists who appeared on the show released their Unplugged concerts as albums. These are some of my favorites:
SCCLD also has some MTV Unplugged performances on DVD:
One of the best tv series to explore the dark side of technology is Black Mirror. Unfortunately the dvds have never been made available in a USA compatible format. But a great episode called Nosedive features the music by a favorite composer of mine: Max Richter - and the cd is available.
Some favorite movies featuring artificial intelligence/androids:
Blade Runner (1982)
Ex Machina (2014)
The internet/social media is nefarious! According to these favorite films:
Ingrid Goes West (2017)
Who You Think I Am (French, 2019)
Opera has gotten into the act too. Check out these operas using and about technology:
The (r)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates
Death and the Powers by Tod Machover uses robots, hyperInstruments and more than 40 computers to produce this opera.
Finally, I recommend the Grammy-nominated symphony Play by Andrew Norman, inspired by video games, which was described as "the best orchestral work that the 21st century has seen thus far".
The idea is at least as old as Frankenstein; what if humanity's technology built to enhance our lives turns against us?
A USA Defense computer develops a mind of its own and it turns out that the price for world peace might be very high for humanity. This 1970 film is dated is in many ways and yet anticipates the way AI can take important decision making away from humans resulting in a logic that is both inhumane and inescapable.
Speaking of USA defense and computers, in this 1983 a teenager hacks into the Pentagon computer looking for challenging video games and accidentally starts the country on the path to nuclear war. A neat comedy/thriller with terrific early performances from Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. The movie picked up 3 Oscar nominations including Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Sound.
For a time, it was thought that virtual reality, the ability to create a 3D "world" for students to explore was going to be a key educational tool. This film takes that idea and runs with it—an obsessive scientist uses his advanced VR technology to experiment on a "slow" man's intelligence and ends up creating a super smart adversary that takes control of the experiment.
Have you been red pilled? If you have heard this phrase and wondered where it came from, it's from this 4 time Oscar winning blockbuster. A computer programmer discovers that the everyday world around him is a fiction hiding a very different reality where the computers are actually in control. Because this film has almost become a cultural event some parts are almost too familiar, however revisiting the riveting action and innovative direction always yields fresh perspective on this influential film. The movie won Oscars for Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects.
Once again the future of humanity is in jeopardy because of the tools that we ourselves have built. This time a robot from a future in which humans and robots are at war travels through time, to destroy a person who will help lead the fight against them. James Cameron established his action credentials and Arnold Schwarzenegger's stardom with this sleek effective thriller literally depeciting the conflict of humanity vs a technology.
In this documentary by director Jennifer Baichwal, photographer Edward Burtynysky travels around the world photographing the changes in landscapes because of industrial development. Included are the effects of dams and a vast appliance manufacturing plant that change the world around them. A haunting film that explores the environmental and human toll of our collective consumption.
While he is not the only one to immortalize these folk classics but Pete Seeger certainly brought songs like, "Where Have all the Flowers Gone," "Little Boxes," and "John Henry" all of which depict the ways which technology challenges us. Ironically, in many of these songs, the technology is often a reflection of humanity's own lack of humanity. Also available for streaming and downloading on Freegal.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Arnold Schwarzenegger does NOT appear in which Terminator film?
Terminator 2: Judgment Day0
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines0
Terminator: Dark Fate0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Elvis Costello