Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Down You Move Too Fast...

So, time being somewhat of a theme here on this blog'o'mine, I thought I should add a post about this gadget I recently came across over on the DVICE website under the heading of Decelerator Helmet slows down reality, in real time

Now, who among us hasn't wanted to slow down reality at some point? So the idea seems to make a great deal of sense, on the surface, at least. And it seems to summon up those fantasies of having some sort of universal remote control where you can hit the pause button and the world around you freezes.  You know, like the Adam Sandler movie, Click, although that is more about fast forward and rewind functions.
And then there was Clockstoppers, where the effect is a function of moving at superspeed.  That was a somewhat innocent version of the fantasy.  A more mature, albeit in certain ways immature exploration of the fantasy was the independent film, Cashback.  

But this invention is about reality, not fantasy. Or reality in a virtual, augmented, or simply altered sense. 

Look, there is nothing new about using technology to give us a view of reality that was previously unobtainable.  Think telescope and binoculars, think microscope and magnifying glasses. And prisms and kaleidoscopes, for that matter.  Not to mention the old mirror, mirror, on the wall. McLuhan stressed the idea that media are extensions of the senses that altered our modes of perception.

And for more traditional categories of media, the camera and photography gives us the close-up, and make that point-of-view commonplace. And if you think about it, it's a way of seeing that is impossible for the naked eye–if you got that close to something, you would be unable to focus. Of course, it is intrinsic to the very nature of photography that it captures a frozen moment in time, a snapshot of reality. And after photography comes the moving image, which adds slow motion and fast motion to our repertoire of unreal realities.

So now, let's take a look at the next step in time distortion.  Let me start with the write-up in DVICE:

Now, if you're thinking what I'm thinking, then words like, uh-oh, or huh??? are running through your head. This certainly doesn't look very advantageous, or like it would be much fun, does it? Well, let's get the rest of the brief write-up from DVICE:

Of course, crossing the street in a traffic-filled city with this thing on wouldn't be a good idea, but in almost any other controlled, assistant-guided situation, this device could deliver an amazing slo-mo vision of reality that has never been seen before. 

Potthast makes no mention of the software facilitating the device's functions, nor if he has any plans to take it commercial, but in the meantime you can see the Decelerator Helmet in action in the video below.

 Okay, so there's an admission that this doesn't seem like the most practical product in the world. But let's take a look at the video and see it in action:

And here's the write-up from Vimeo:

The Decelerator Helmet is a experimental approach for dealing with our fast moving society. The sense of vision is consigned to an apparatus which allows the user a perception of the world in slow motion.

In a increasingly hectic, overstimulated and restless environment are the calls for deceleration omnipresent. The inconceivably amount of information and influences in our everyday lives leads in many cases to an excessive demand.The idea to decouple the personal perception from the natural timing enables the user to become aware of his own time.

I'm just going to interject here that this is an interesting idea, and a worthy enough goal, but is the answer more technology? Or might it be alternatives like meditation, prayer, and/or going for a walk?  But of course I'm being silly, so let's return to that write-up from Vimeo:

In the inside of the helmet the video-signal of a camera is processed by a small computer. The slowed-down images are displayed right before the user's eyes via a head-mounted display and are simultaneously shown on a monitor on the outside. The helmet has three different modes which can be selected by a remote control: In the auto-mode time is slowed down automatically and re-accelerated after a defined interval. The press-mode allows the specific deceleration of time. In the scroll-mode the user can completely control the speed of the elapsing of time. The Decelerator gives the user the possibility to reflect about the flow of time in general and about the relation between sensory perception, environment and corporality in particular. Also it dramatically visualizes how slowing down can potentially cause a loss of the present.

Well, if you want to see some more pictures of this device, and read more about it (if you can read German), go check out the website.

As for me, this puts me in mind of an old hit song from my childhood in the 60s, The 59th Street Bridge Song, aka Feelin' Groovy, by Simon and Garfunkel.  Those were slower, more relaxed times, and I do remember my father driving us over the 59th Street Bridge as we traveled from our home in Queens (not far from where Simon and Garfunkel grew up), to Manhattan and back. And when I was in high school, I crossed that bridge when I came to it a couple of times on foot, as part of some marathon walks with my old friend, Marty Friedman. 

Much time has passed since those days, a lot of water under the bridge you might say, but it's nice to know that old Paul and Art can still sing it nice and tuneful:


And I know you wanted to see the lyrics, so here they are: 

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Hello lamppost,
What cha knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' groovy.

Got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.  

Groovy sounds real old-fashioned now, I know, and it wasn't long before it became a cliché and fell out of favor. But it was very much a musical and technological metaphor, a reference to vinyl records whose grooves captured the vibrations or vibes that reproduced those groovy tunes for us to listen to. So, just go ahead and decelerate, and dig those grooves, man, dig those grooves... 

No comments: