After the comments mentioned in the previous meeting, I decided to try and find a specific narrative to explore the connection of “pictures” and “words”, or “motion” and “thought.”
I felt the theme of this narrative had to tackle epistemic/existential challenges, where the central character questions the very basis of his/her knowledge and what they can know to be fact from what they see and hear.
I began to look into philosophical analogies, which try to explain complicated theoretical ideas used a simplified example of the same principle. The particular analogies I looked into were analogies which commented on the extent or limits of what we know, such as Schrodinger’s Cat analogy, about a cat imagined as being enclosed in a box with a radioactive source and a poison that will be released when the source (unpredictably) emits radiation, the cat being considered (according to quantum mechanics) to be simultaneously both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat observed.
I don’t want these animations to just be seen as illustrations of complicated ideas though, I want them to appear as both simplistic and gripping animations in themselves which show technical skills.
In the short animation of Schrodinger’s cat, I experimented with Premiere Pro’s animated software, and played with opacity of two animations over one another to express the notion of two possible scenarios going on possibly simultaneously. I also changed my methods of photographing the slides with scanning each individual slide, so that the animation appeared less jumpy and more fluent.
Bertrand Russell’s Tea Pot
As well as Schrodinger’s Cat, I thought about analogies Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, which is an analogy, coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims, rather than shifting the burden of disproof to others. Russell specifically applied his analogy in the context of religion.He wrote that if he were to assert, without offering proof, that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, he could not expect anyone to believe him solely because his assertion could not be proven wrong.
I then added my own spin on this analogy, and placed God into the scene of a Tea pot floating in space and grabbing it. The point being that these two both occupy the same sphere of thought. This was a somewhat more satirical use of a theory, but it doesn’t remove any weight to the premise. In this particular animation. I experimented with the use of cut-up pieces of paper on top of each other for each scanned slide. This gave the piece a kind of Monty Python feel to the animation. This could be argued as a bit cliched or derogatory towards both religion and towards Bertrand Russell, but the Monty Python’s in their own way did address interesting ideas about how we reason, argue and they made a lot of references to philosophy in a way which made it compelling. I will have to see how the piece comes out in the end when I put it into premiere pro.
I have also considered as other analogies to use for an overall animation:
Is there a rhinoceros in the room? – which is a discussion between Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein about whether there was a rhinoceros in their room. Apparently, when Wittgenstein ‘refused to admit that it was certain that there was not a rhinoceros in the room,’ Russell half-jokingly looked underneath the desks to prove it. But to no avail. ‘My German engineer, I think, is a fool,’ concluded Russell. ‘He thinks nothing empirical is knowable-I asked him to admit that there was not a rhinoceros in the room, but he wouldn’t.’
The crux of the dispute appears to be a thesis held by Wittgenstein at the time concerning ‘asserted propositions.’ According to Russell, Wittgenstein maintained that ‘there is nothing in the world except asserted propositions’ and refused ‘to admit the existence of anything except asserted propositions.’
For this analogy, or example of a philosophical premise, I plan to have the central character of my animation to be oblivious to the passing of a rhinoceros behind him.
David Hume’s Bundle theory – Originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontological theory about objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection (bundle) of properties, relations or tropes. According to bundle theory, an object consists of its properties and nothing more: thus neither can there be an object without properties nor can one even conceive of such an object; for example, bundle theory claims that thinking of an apple compels one also to think of its colour, its shape, the fact that it is a kind of fruit, its cells, its taste, or at least one other of its properties. Thus, the theory asserts that the apple is no more than the collection of its properties. In particular, there is no substance in which the properties are inherent. To prove his point, Hume posed the challenge to anyone to trying to imagine an object without any properties.
For this analogy, I would like to create an animation in which a solid object such as an apple (or any kind of fruit, e.g. banana, orange) has it’s peal removed and beneath it lies nothing, suggesting that beneath every object, there exist only the surface empirical properties and no essence.
Evil Demon – The evil demon, also known as evil genius, and occasionally as malicious demon or genius malignus, is a concept in Cartesian philosophy. In his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes hypothesized the existence of an evil demon, a personification who is “as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.” The evil demon presents a complete illusion of an external world, including other minds, to Descartes’ senses, where there is no such external world in existence. The evil demon also presents to Descartes’ senses a complete illusion of his own body, including all bodily sensations.
For this analogy, I have thought of a demon puppeteer, pulling the strings of a human puppet, to suggest that whatever control the character thinks they possess is imagined. As a theory, Descarte concluded that whatever malignus demon capable of tricking us, the one thing he was certain of was the fact he could think and was conscious, then he non the less must exist, because it would not be possible for a demon to trick a non conscious being to believing their conscious.
Why I want to address philosophical analogies and why I think these are still relevant, is because they address concerns at the very core of existence. Often I personally am struck by questions as to whether I even exist, how much of what I know is real and when I see on the news of extreme religious groups, the question is raised what justification is there for anyone to act upon their beliefs, whether secularist or theologian.