September 29, 2013
[Day-long Film Festival]
This film festival was curated in conjunction with the exhibition Archeology of the Digital for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
In 1982 Time Magazine changed their annual Person of the Year cover to Machine of the Year acknowledging the growing presence computers were taking in society. Through a day-long film festival featuring two fictional cinematic works, one made-for-tv-movie, and clips of late 20th century newscasts and commercials, we follow the evolution of the home computer, programming software, and the internet from its nascent stages to the moment they achieved widespread use and familiarity.
We begin with the 1950s and the 1960s with the abstract uncertainty of the super computer. In the film Desk Set a super computer referencing the UNIVAC replaces human workers in the name of efficiency. Set to a campy tune we see a “Tomorrowland” where human existence becomes obsolete.
Moving into the 1970s and 1980s the home computer places efficiency at the individual’s fingertips. A growing population obtains newfound accessibility and control in the digital world. In the film War Games we see the ease with which simple acts of computing in the privacy of your own home can now have global impact. Finally, digital culture takes another turn in the 1980s and 1990s with the advent of the internet and the computer’s changing status from tool to lifestyle device. The human vs. the computer battle scores one for the computer as branding and design reach out to the consumerist general public. The film Pirates of Silicon Valley historicizes exactly how Steve Jobs, entrepreneur and inventor, originated a lifestyle that continues today.