Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Here 2010

A student of mine from The Tec of Monterrey, Lucy, had mentioned the film a couple of weeks ago when I visited the Tec’s campus. She finally posted the link on my facebook wall so I was excited to watch it.

I have always drawn to stories about robots ever since I was a kid, so this premise naturally interested me. I have also liked Spike Jonze’s films, Specially “Being John Malkovich”. This is a short film that made its online debut after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, in 2010 and sponsored by Absolut. It is not a glamorous film as you could expect coming from a “sexy” vodka brand.  I liked the idea of this 30 minute short and that these robots are actually LA hipsters, which is very close to Jonze’s early video music work.

In recent years I have been excited about the idea of robotics inspired by some great architecture figures that I admire who have been asking the question of integrating robotics into architecture in a more systemic but also emotional way. I think this film touches upon that, the notion of robotics and emotions.

This film, "I’m Here" is not about whether the actors did a good job as some of the critics have alluded to, this is not the point. You can do great acting wearing a mask , the Greek Tragedy believed in that, great precedent for this short film.  The characters are played by Andrew Garfield as Sheldon (soon to be seen as Spiderman) and Sienna Guillory as Francesca.  This is beautiful and simple example of storytelling is precisely what the film relies on, the result is surprisingly “affecting” as some critics Like Liz Shannon Miller has called it.  The use of robots as these new emotional entities that are prone to romance is an interesting choice and I don’t want to dive into symbolic speculations, but sometimes I feel that people have to be from a different ontology to embrace the idea of Love.  Plus the movie pushes the idea of the possibility of machinic, robotic, monstrous aesthetics into quotidian life, a common thought for some architects and designers these days perhaps more than ever.  The movie turns progressively darker into this twist for use of the ‘prosthetic’ in this love exchange, where there is nothing to give in a Lacanian definition of love, thus the male robot began to consciously mutilate himself to please the other, whether the female robot is prone to accidents or those are intentionally provoked, the point is the emotions are always ready to give…

Finally, the Sheldon gives his entire body after the ultimate gesture of "Love" or more like robotic hybridity, and prostheticism and the result is more going into a Frankenstein-crossgender sense of aesthetics. What seems really scary to me is not the loss of the physical “the body” but the fact that the other robot will carry the “mind” of the “donor”, the question how and for how long? But within the instruments of love and normal life, even robots need a way to physically move on their own volition connecting the mechanisms of operational reason and emotions. At the end, the fact that Sheldon sacrifices for Francesca as an expression of the purest love? This could easily be construed as a commentary on how destructive and all-consuming love can be. This film touches upon lots of very interesting questions, watch it online.