№ 5. Cinema Grids, Paper Planes, and the Power of the Whole

(On Saturdays — really, one tries — a smorgasbord of discoveries made both offline and online will be featured here, to celebrate how the Internet is full of oddities and ideas from the real world.)


1. Alexey Kondakov

Appreciation for classical art need not be exclusive to certain venues and social strata, as evidenced by Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov’s digital collage project entitled Art History in Contemporary Life. In this “union of history and modernity,” figures from classical paintings are edited into photographs of daily life in present-day Kiev taken by Kondakov himself — showing that context matters just as much as, if not sometimes more than, the subject. More often than the other way around, it is the big picture that helps one understand the intricate details better.

On that note on context, the timelessness of classical art is reinforced, as is that of human behavior. The subjects hardly look out of place even whilst dressed for an earlier century. Their body language is not a far cry from our own, though it might have had other meanings back then. In some ways, we are not as distant from our predecessors as we are ofttimes made out to be.

2. The Missing Art Movement

During Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian regime in the late twentieth century, the Marcoses were believed to have spent approximately US$ 25,000,000 of the nation’s coffers on high-value artworks by various international and Filipino artists. Thirty years later, some have been recovered through the Philippines’ Presidential Commission on Good Government — but a great many more remain missing. The Missing Art Movement is a state-sponsored online gallery of these artworks, as well as a testament to but one manner in which the Marcoses stole from the Filipino people, a deplorable crime that today continues to go unpunished.

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Above is a generated cloud from the website arranging recovered artworks according to their value upon recovery and/or resale; the website contains other similar infographics for public consumption. It may be said that apart from their existing theft from the Philippine nation, the Marcoses have also done a great disservice to the rest of the world by denying the public eye of these paintings.

3. Cinema Grids

It takes more than a good eye to spot similarities and connections across films; the feat also requires an impressive, extensive knowledge of films in the first place. This has proven to be no problem for author and screenwriter H. Perry Horton, with his ingenious project Cinema Grids, begun just last September.

In this project, Horton painstakingly puts together stills from various movies and finds a common denominator: whether it is in the color palette, in the framing and composition, in the subjects’ one characteristic or another, and so on. The result is a smart survey of the film medium that goes beyond individual pieces’ factual details.

4. Paper Planes

If there is an application to simulate the experience of a Pokédex in one’s mobile phone, Paper Planes is a website that simulates the experience of… making and throwing paper planes. As aimless as the premise sounds, there is an endearing innocence in the act of folding a virtual sheet of paper with one’s location stamp, and watching the finished product fly into the world with thousands of other planes.

The site also allows one to interact with other people’s planes, if only to feel a sense of acquaintanceship with a stranger who may well be halfway across the globe. A player is often left sitting in awe at the sheer size of the world and the number of people who inhabit it.

5. A game of comments section trolls

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Down the same path as that of the Offensiveness Bingo: Duterte Edition — though not necessarily from the same makers — comes a new ‘game’ that Filipinos can only win by losing in real life. This Bingo card featuring the art of Rob Cham requires one to confront some of the irrational excuses that diehard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte seem to deliberately dish out whenever the words and actions of their messiah are threatened by common sense, authentic evidence, or moral superiority. As a matter of fact, these supporters lash out even when unprovoked; they usually are the ones provoking everyone else. The slang for their kind of person is ‘troll.’ The game is to not let them get to you.

Synthesis is a fascinating process because the whole that is created usually ends up greater, even more enjoyable, than the sum of its parts. For example, one film still has little value by itself, but when compiled with others of its kind, it can generate a more profound meaning.

One paper plane, however impressive because it is virtual, is cutesy. When it flies with thousands of others, it has the capacity to induce awe and inspire camaraderie.

One Internet troll plus another troll makes two trolls, but in looking at their multiplicity, one lessens their convenient designation as outliers and we are able to see how irrationality is growing to be a genuine social peril.

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