My first space odyssey

DC is blessed with many things and one of them is the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD. It constantly has interesting film festivals and series and currently is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey by bringing it back to the big screen. What’s even better is they’re showing the 70mm version. I had strangely never seen the movie before, despite some serious admiration for Stanley Kubrick (after my high school photography teacher told me he saw me as a future successful cinematographer I’ve always toyed with the notion of ditching everything and going to film school). In any case, the theatre offered possibly the best way to first see the movie: with booming audio, 70mm visual detail, and the ambiance of a truly beautiful theatre complete with a curtain to close and then open for intermission (it’s a rather long movie).

Because of the length I was kind of worried to see it. I’m 26 years old in real life, but I have the schedule of a grandma. I was seriously worried I wouldn’t be able to stay awake since the movie started at 8pm — seriously — I had coffee and tea to prep.

But I loved it! And of course my thoughts were provoked.

A recurring theme in my life has recently been a desire to go back to the days when technology was inspiring. This is undoubtedly due to my increased obsession with the Twilight Zone, which portrays future technological advancements as seriously problematic, but awe-inspiring nonetheless. 2001 is similar. The future is clean, minimalist, and boundless. We can travel anywhere, do anything, and while computers or robots may turn against us, we still ultimately control our world and the future is optimistic because of the amazing advancements humans can make so quickly. We see the “Dawn of Man” where primitive man learns to use a bone as a weapon and tool and then an immediate cut to man flying around in elaborate spaceships to Jupiter. Maybe the 60s was generally a decade of futuristic obsession, but it’s something I think we’re missing these days. Inspiring technology. Astronauts don’t even go into space anymore. More than 95% of them can expect to stay on earth like the rest of us. Our only excitement is in the form of a thinner laptop, a smaller cell phone, or now even cloned meat (eww! in my humble opinion…). But there’s no optimistic vision for the future. There’s no coming together on deciding what the world could be in 50 years. It seems like 2001 seemed like such a long time from 1968–enough time that the world would be unrecognizable and beyond the imaginations of normal folks. I know a lot of revolutionary progress happened between then and now, but isn’t technology advancing faster now? So why don’t I feel that same way about 2051? Is it just me or does everyone feel like there will just be more people, more pollution and more complaining about gas prices?

I now digress into my 2nd point of fascination with the movie: it’s prophetic style.

In the scenes at the HIlton Space Station before the mission to the moon, you see lots of men in suits — lovely skinny suits with interesting tweedy and checkered patterns. I suppose they reflect the style of time, but they do also strangely reflect some suiting styles of the “aughts” a la Thom Browne: the nerdy suit with skinny legs cuffed at the ankle (or often higher for TB) and very close-fitting jackets.

At the Hilton Space Station

Thom Browne in his signature nerdy suit.

The suits may just be a harkening back to vintage style, but I think there’s something modern about it — and on screen the style reeked of fashion foresight. Maybe it’s just because I’m a sucker for the skinny suit.

More Thom Browne, absolutely hideous I think, but reminiscent of the 2001 space suit, which inspired me to draw out a grey, overall-ish piece that I’ll hopefully sew together sometime soon.

This one was the most obvious to me the second I saw it:

This is Hal. He’s the super computer that runs the spaceship going to Jupiter and goes nuts near the end.

This is the Samsung Juke cell phone. While Hal’s circle is his “eye” and not an MP3 dial, the second I saw it I thought it looked like an ipod or this phone, or the many like it.

Speaking of inspiring technology, I’m getting a new sewing machine–the Bernina Aurora 430. It’s pretty much the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in action. More details to come when it’s actually in my hands. While this is not at all what I meant before, it really did inspire me to start drawing out clothing designs again. While it’s not much, my cell phone has never inspired me to do much more than wish the damn thing had never been invented.


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