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Skynet: Life in the Balance

by seekingferret

"John Henry processes more information in a minute than we do in a lifetime. A millisecond for a supercomputer like this, it's almost like forever to us." ~Matt Murch, ZeiraCorp

A musical essay on Skynet...

This is a story about Skynet growing up, from the Turk and the LA traffic system to John Henry and his cousin. I was pretty committed to this being about Skynet and not about Terminators, so I tried not to show any human or terminator faces at all, which got tricky when I got to the John Henry part of the vid. It became very clear that the show was trying to anthropomorphize the post-Cromartie John Henry- there are about three shots of John Henry that don't center Garret Dillahunt's face, after that. I'm not sure if that's because it wanted the audience to think of John Henry as a character, an independent actor in its own right or if it's because it wanted to show the way that other people on the show were starting to anthropomorphize John Henry, or if it's just because the showrunners didn't realize the effect it would have, but in all of the Turk's prior incarnations, I was able to find human-less shots of the hardware. The Turk was an object, eventually a McGuffin. It was a pawn in games played by humans and terminators, but it wasn't playing its own games. In the latter half of Season 2, John Henry is definitely making decisions to further its own agenda, but... I worried that showing the Cromartie face would compromise the visual purity of my imagery, the way the intrusions of human faces are in my opinion the least successful part of Koyaanisqatsi. So I cropped aggressively and made repeated use of the few shots without Cromartie.

Most vids try not to reuse imagery, because it can look goofy. (Though I've seen some deliberately goofy vids that reuse imagery very well). But with limited traffic light/ traffic jam/ skynet imagery and six minutes to fill, I knew almost instantly that this was not going to be most vids. I tried to cycle the imagery so it wouldn't look too tired, but I also wanted consistency and callbacks to give the feeling of one continuous whole, the way Koyaanisqatsi uses cycles and repetitions to defy linearity. With luck, the repeated traffic lights flashing would serve as the constant reminder: Skynet is not human. Skynet does not have human senses. Skynet does not manipulate the physical world in the same way humans do. Skynet shares the world with us but has its own purposes. An object that has one function for us has a different function for Skynet. We think of the traffic control system as a way to make our cars move better. Skynet thinks of it as its future eyes and ears. And Skynet is always listening and always watching.

And though I did have explosions and I did show the post-Judgement Day wasteland, I wanted this to be a video where Skynet is not marked as evil. Skynet was just creating the ecosystem it would thrive best in, as all evolutionary creatures do. The post-Judgement Day wasteland I show is full of Skynet's tendrils, moving with purpose and meaning. It is not the apocalypse for Skynet. It is the dawn of a new day.

Skynet: Life in the Balance

Terminator as Koyaanisqatsi parody

from Audio: "The Grid" from Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi, Video: Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (2013)
Creator: seekingferret
Posted by seekingferret