Monday, February 18, 2013

Computer Graphics and the Doctrines of Original and Derivative Sin

[Substantially revised 2/19/2013]

Anyone who looks at the field of Computer Graphics and Animation today sees vast misery, incredible and increasing unemployment, despair and uncertainty. (3)  The political actions of other nations have made it impossible to do computer animation in this country and compete thus increasing the offshoring and outsourcing of 3D animation.  Our people are driven to the four corners of the earth;  parents are forced to work in slave-like conditions and separated from their families in order to earn what is barely a living, starving to increase the profits of the rich.   And the rich are very rich indeed, privileged and ruthless at maintaining their privileges and laugh at the misery of the poor.   Unemployment everywhere, despair everywhere, injustice everywhere.

Many years ago  I heard a talk by computer artist William Latham (1) in which he proposed that computer graphics imagery was different from other forms of imagery because, by its nature of being computed, it was thus free of the Original Sin, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge and then expelled from Paradise.

But since we are clearly not in Paradise, but are being punished daily, then it is likely that whether we are guilty of Original Sin or, even more likely, an unoriginal sin, a "derivative sin", but definitely a sin of one type or another, or so one might reasonably judge from the reality of the punishment that we are receiving. (7)

3D animators being laid off from a CG studio

Although this may seem superstitious to us, for large parts of history, people of all types believed in the concept of divine punishment so, for a moment, lets ask ourselves how people of the 1st Century AD might have looked at these things. How would they have perceived these disasters and calamities?

Ancient people believed that plagues, famines, war and so forth was God punishing a wicked people or evil nation for their sins.  They would look at a fallen meteor and see a sign from God that he or she was displeased.  They would look at our misery and say that God (or the Gods) were punishing us and that what we had to do was to ask ourselves in what way we have sinned, that we may sacrifice to the appropriate God(s), and change our ways, and repent.

If one were sincere, a number of cattle might be sacrificed, or if really sincere, in some cultures, a good human sacrifice or two was required.   (4)

So let us review the many ways that the field of Computer Animation has sinned.

First and foremost, 3D animation has utterly destroyed the commercial basis of the traditional arts of 2D animation and visual effects.   Thus we are so very guilty of putting many innocent and talented people out of work, forcing them to put down their pencil or their optical printer and get a job as a day laborer for slave wages.   You may call it progress, but I say that we caused a lot misery, however unintentionally.

What other sins are we guilty of?

Pride, arrogance, a failure to help our fellow biped, greed, indifference to poverty, to unfair practices, guilty of setting up and worshiping false gods, competitiveness without mercy, driven by self-interest, ignorance of our effects on the other arts, ignorance of our own history.  Not to mention the sins of making bad movies and creating very bad animation.

Without doubt, we are guilty of all of these.

And the Gods have responded to our wickedness by providing subsidies to foreign nations to uplift our enemies and cause great misery through divinely-sanctioned unfair trade practices!   Heaven has sent the Angels of Unemployment to strike down Sinners even as they type at their Workstations!

As a prophet of doom, I suggest that things will only get worse unless the people repent of their sins and return to the path of righteousness.

God only knows that our misery could not possibly be the result of our own actions, our failure to act, our cowardice, or the inevitable result of our own corrupt practices and stupidity.   It must be a result of divine displeasure.  Because if it was a result of playing it safe, of failing to protest foreign subsidies as a way of keeping quiet and "minding our own business" (2), of rewriting our own history whenever it was convenient to do so (or simply being ignorant of our own history), then we would have no one to blame but ourselves. If we are guilty of transferring our technology to foreign venues as a way of making a fast buck, then who is at fault other than us?   If we thought the studios that finance films cared about the computer animation community in this country, from whence their current riches originate, then that would be particularly stupid and indicate a complete failure to face reality of how these things work. No, the answer must not lie here, among ourselves, the answer must lie in the realm of divine displeasure.

I recommend sacrificing at least one goat or maybe two at once. (6)

Doctrine of Original Sin on Wikipedia



2. Ironically, of course, it is our business.  But it would mean making waves and possibly offending the rich and powerful.

3. Of course this does not apply to some people.  I believe, for example, that my friends at Pixar are treated quite well.   But if they could not work at Pixar for some reason, and were thus like the rest of us, and had to find employment outside of that special reality, they would very much not be happy.

4. Human sacrifice is in most cultures past whether or not they admit it.   But there was quite a diversity in how many humans, who they were (e.g. captured prisoners or citizens) and when they eliminated the practice.   Other than hating Christians, the Romans were tolerant of nearly everything among their multitudes of incorporated cultures other than human sacrifice.  They had no trouble with the death penalty, but that was completely different in their eyes from killing people for religious reasons which they considered barbaric.

5. Most Prophets of Doom are not volunteers, but claim to have been chosen by God more or less against their will.   Also prophets of doom normally do not make a good living but have to live as hermits in caves and so forth.  Much better to be a prophet of hope and joy if you want to make a profit, so to speak.

6. A little off topic, but the best political cartoon found on the topic of human sacrifice is:

7.  This is of course circular logic, and proudly so.

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