There’s AI…and then there’s Bowie

[***]The tension between the “art” of AI modeling and true artistry reminded me of something I’m looking forward to this week: the premiere of Brett Morgen’s film, Lunar Reverieabout David Bowie.

[***]As reported by Melena Ryzik for the New York Timesthe film opens September 16 to the general public.

[***]Morgen’s opus on Bowie, “Lunar reverie”, which opens in theaters and IMAX on September 16, is not presented as a traditional documentary but as an immersive experience. It’s both psychedelic and philosophical – a corkscrew into Bowie’s carefully constructed characters, assembled entirely from archival footage and audio, some of which are rare and never before released. The effect is “a hallucinatory doc jukebox with killer subtext”, as one reviewer wrotewith appreciation, following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this spring.


[***]Bowie’s longtime collaborator and producer Tony Visconti, who served as a resource for the audio, came away impressed with how the film kaleidoscopes the visuals, storytelling and music. “There is technical magic in all of this,” he wrote in an email. “And when seen and heard, especially in an IMAX theater, you’ll get the most Bowie ever – sensory overload.”

[***]I’m taking my son to see it in IMAX. The trailer itself is quite impressive:

[***]After spending five years making a film about such a cultural icon, Morgen came away most impressed with Bowie’s sheer humanity:

[***]For Morgen, one of the most illustrative points was how Bowie behaved in numerous interviews, often with people who clearly did not understand him; one of them, trying to figure out how foreign this sexist artist was, asked him if he had a teddy bear as a child. And yet, “I’ve never seen David talk down, be disrespectful, short, annoyed,” Morgen said.

[***]Maybe it was just politeness as a disarming tactic, but Morgen saw something deeper in it – an ability to seek connection and depth in any situation. It’s a message he tried to convey in the film. Bowie was “trying to make every moment count,” he said. “It’s kind of a life-affirming roadmap of how to lead a satisfying and complete life.”

[***]Bowie weighed on the impact of the Internet (and implicitly AI) in 1999, calling it “an extraterrestrial life form”:

[***]As transcribed by The swarming brain:

[***]I don’t think we even saw the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential for what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we are actually on the verge of something exhilarating and terrifying.

[***]Paxman: It’s just a tool, isn’t it?

[***]Bowie. No it is not. No. It is an extraterrestrial life form. [Laughs] Is there life on Mars? Yes, he just landed here.

[***]Paxman: But it’s just a different delivery system. You are discussing something deeper.

[***]Bowie: Oh yeah. I’m talking about the actual context and the state of the content is going to be so different from anything we can envision right now, where the interaction between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico, it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are.

[***]He was a man so far ahead of his time that we are still far from catching up with him.

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