I’m with them on the likely “implosion” of the studio system – but of course I disagree about what the future holds, or what it should hold: they predict ever-increasingly immersive, technological experiences – wrap-around screens, virtual reality, brain implants, and entertainment that somehow taps into your actual dreams (yikes).
I don’t think the rectangular, flat screen is the issue at all – in my mind, it doesn’t really matter what kind of surface the images are projected upon – moving images have been profoundly compelling and complete ever since Plato’s Cave with its flickering firelight.
The screen is merely a portal, an access point for us to enter – and the act of entering itself is the crossing of the threshold into our own imagination / dreamscape / underworld.
Sometimes, or often, or always, I think less is more – the human imagination itself provides the landscape for the experience, and if the technology works harder and provides more of the experience, it will only lead to the enfeebling of the imaginative capacity of the audience member, making us more dependent on expensive toys. Better consumers, maybe, but not ultimately more satisfied with our cinematic (or videogame, or interactive) experiences.
A few months ago I saw a gifted performer tell the tale of the Odyssey – the whole thing, start to finish, as credited to Homer, on a stage, by himself. It wasn’t acting per se, it was straightforward, word-for-word storytelling. And damn, I tell ya, it was most definitely immersive and low-fi at the same time.
I’m not ready to give up on the moving image completely, in favor of live performance – I have far too long a history with the seductive power of film and video. But as the years pass I suppose I am becoming more crochety and stubborn that real innovation doesn’t require fancier new-fangled technology.
There are many lifetimes worth of creative, artistic, imaginative potential to explore yet with the most basic cinematic apparatus. Cinema is only 100-ish years old. No need (for me anyway) to rush on to the next thing.