Looking at the “Tears in rain monologue” of Blade Runner (1982)

I recently watched Blade Runner (1982) with a few friends over the weekend, and I thought it was excellent. They did an incredible job with the movie’s visuals – the atmosphere is moody and oppressive, claustrophobic with swarms of civilians bustling about an obviously overpopulated metropolis. The entire film is tinted a somber ocean blue and shimmers in artificial neon light to create a dystopian and gloomy backdrop for the movie’s introspection in consciousness – it all works very cohesively. It’s crazy how they managed to pull off such an impressive visual scale of its city and tech without the use of CGI, in 1982! (As a side note, the setting of the movie is in 2019, so it looks like we’re just one year away from flying cars, killer androids, and eternal rain. I look forward to it!) If you haven’t seen the movie, obviously give it a shot, and spoilers ahead.

One scene in particular stands out to pretty much everyone who’s seen it, and the main actor in that scene is said still to get comments about it 30 years later. Of course, I’m talking about Roy Batty’s final few lines, or the “Tears in rain monologue.” (This one-minute scene is apparently famous enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page!) Here’s the transcript:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Batty’s speech is a recognition of his own humanity, an acceptance of his mortality, and by extension, our own. Batty is a combat replicant, genetically engineered for the sole purpose of war. He is literally designed to be emotionless, and yet, this supposedly expendable, programmatic husk of a “non-human” being comments on the beauty of his experiences, even those in the violent landscape of war. The monologue’s fictional imagery is somehow easy to picture; gargantuan structures blaze in silence, as a crumbling ship and its passengers become the dust in cosmic wind; a vivid mosaic of bright color stretch through the black void of space, massive in scale to Batty’s small form. It’s these experiences that Batty, who can be considered no more alive than the code in a program, has remembered and described as “things you people wouldn’t believe,” or the things that Batty sees immense wonder in – these deeply impactful memories that his “meaningless, programmed” life was truly lived out with great purpose, if not solely for the reason that he had lived and experienced the beauty of his universe at all. Here is Blade Runner’s acknowledgement of Batty’s humanity: his ability to view the universe with conscious, wondrous eyes.

The second half of the monologue is Batty’s acceptance of his inherently ephemeral nature. Replicants are designed only to live for four years before automatically shutting down, and it’s in a previous scene that Batty actually “meets his maker,” only to angrily kill him when he is told that there’s no possible way to extend his lifespan. Here, in the final moments before his death is when Batty has fully accepted the fate he fought to avoid, he realizes that while all those previously described memories will be “lost in time, like tears in rain,” noting the insignificance of his existence in the context of a greater universe, he did not live in vain. The “questionable things” that Batty has conducted over his lifespan is contrasted by the empathy expressed in his saving of Deckard, a man dispatched to kill off him and his rogue replicant friends. Thus, he is perfectly content to die, joyous and appreciative of having had the chance to affirm his humanity.

Blade Runner’s messages are incredibly thoughtful, and I’m honestly very unequipped to analyze the nuance of the film. Nonetheless, the “Tears in rain monologue” stuck by me and I wanted to share my thoughts. The sentiment of the scene is similar to other existential works like The Stranger and Waiting for Godot, but the fantastic visual acting, gorgeous background track, and wholly poetic delivery make “Tears in rain” quite special.

architecture… does it have limits?

credit: instagram @themichiganarchitect

Architecture, the most broad discipline by far… does it have limits?
I certainly believe so, despite my passion for the field.
Architecture is limited between the fight form has with function; architecture is the result of the compromise of these two components.
Architecture is limited by technology. Ever since there was software created, more wild shapes have been encouraged in design. Back in the day, without such powerful software available, past architects instead had to rely on their genius mind power and artistic talent to produce the blueprints for their designs, Whereas today, we have people who care just barely draw, who can turn to software drawing to save themselves from being fried at their next review, and it also allows them to turn the model round and round virtually to literally see how all the elements of their design go together.
The perception of architecture is also limited. As an architecture student, I am constantly assigned projects that question my design abilities, but also must fit to a certain narrative. Yes, we get our own options to interpret the prompts for ourselves, and create our own “solutions” to the presented objectives, however I always question the necessities of the narrative portion. In our projects, I believe the narrative (the story or point we want to demonstrate through our design) simply serves to spur our designing. We think up a storm, to convey a meaning behind our project designs; sometimes we are successful, other times not so much.
What I’ve always found interesting about that is, the narrative is often times the reason for headache and heartache for us and our projects… however, hypothetically speaking, if these projects were to be real proposals in the actual world, I doubt anyone would be able to i(or let alone have the interest to) interpret our narratives behind the design. It’s like, why spend so much time crafting a story, that audiences cannot even see, or do not even wish to see? Perhaps, the reality is that these narratives exist just to capture ourselves as designers to have a fascination and passion for the project, which would in turn power our hard work and determination to do our best in the project, and designing it too.

Not a Blue Wave, But Historic Victories

credit: NowThis/itsjarms

I’m sure you’ve been paying attention to the recent midterm elections, which occurred this past Tuesday. I certainly hoped you exercised your civil rights to vote (no matter how screwed you think we are or aren’t)! People have said that this election cycle could change the future of America and perhaps even democracy itself. Many Americans are worried about the future state of the country, including myself. When tyrannical presidents threaten the nation into near fascism, it’s essential to speak up and effect change.

Tuesday marked a landmark election day, even though the supposed Blue Wave was not as successful as expected. In one of the most watched Senate races, Texas conservative Ted Cruz claimed re-election over the Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who lost by only a few percent. While Republicans maintained their hold on the Senate, Democrats claimed the majority of the House. With the majority blue, possibilities for impeachment become closer to reality.

Despite the undermining of democratic institutions in today’s harsh political climate, there were unprecedented wins for diverse candidates: voters were able to send the first Muslim women, Native American women, and LGBTQ+ women to Congress. The first openly gay man was elected Governor in Colorado. These historic wins represent a tide turning in the United States. Maybe people are more accepting than previously thought, and can look beyond ideological differences to vote for candidates who present political competence. We can work toward a more inclusive, democratic, and informative political environment. And hopefully, real changes will be made effectively and quickly.

The Joys of the Fall Season

For some, saying goodbye to the summer season is a difficult thing to do. For others, welcoming the fall season means preparing for a period of bright colors, cool weather, and a series of holidays. From a personal standpoint, I rejoice at the first sign of “sweater weather.”

Fall, otherwise known as autumn, is full of great weather, good food, and fun activities. The season is perfect for taking a visit to a cider mill, spending time with friends around the campfire, or simply enjoying the scenery. Sunsets in the fall present a brilliant orange hue unlike any other, and the darker, cooler starry nights often seem magical. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows cover maple trees, allowing you to gaze at an artistic masterpiece just by looking out the window. Fall is a great time to take a walk outside, as there’s something satisfying about walking under a canopy of fall foliage and hearing the sound of crunching leaves underfoot. In addition to providing natural beauty, the season presents an opportunity for growth, as fall brings a new school year and new experiences.

Fall is a busy time, packed full of events and activities to look forward to. Holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas mean plenty of celebrating. There’s also a galore of fun things to do, as the fall season is a great time to go camping, hiking, and more. Seasonal activities such as picking apples, attending a college football game, or conquering a corn maze are great ways to make memories with loved ones. Furthermore, there are opportunities to carve pumpkins, go on a hayride, and share delicious food with family. Along the topic of food, there’s plenty of it, including an abundance of pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes. In addition to traditional seasonal delicacies, there’s apple and pumpkin everything, including that pumpkin spiced latte you love to post about on Snapchat.

Another wonderful thing about fall is the weather. Cold drizzles indicate that it’s the perfect time to light a fire in the fireplace and snuggle up with a cup of tea or hot cider. The words “cute,” “comfy,” and “cozy” come to mind when breaking out the suede boots and fuzzy blankets, as the first slight chill in the air calls for donning comfy sweaters and scarves in preparation for the cooler temperatures. Instead of worrying about drowning in sweat or getting a sunburn, you have the chance to decide which oversized jacket or flannel to wear next.

On a deeper level, fall serves as a reminder of the changing nature of life. During this time, the life cycle of many plants finishes or turns into the other stages, with the dead leaves on the ground disintegrating and turning into part of the soil. The change in scenery presents an opportunity to reflect on the impermanence of things, with the need for us to continuously grow and embrace the present. As such, fall is a great time to think about what we are thankful for. With so many different holidays and activities, it is perfect for cherishing and spending time with loved ones. Overall, fall gives a sense of comfort, fun, and reflection that makes it a truly unique and enjoyable season.

Technology Influencing Art

Throughout history technology has influenced art in different ways.  It was used as a medium, like photography and movies. It is also used as an enhancer, like photoshop and video editing.  Technology is also featured in art, with paintings of phones and street lamps. As technology progresses, it becomes easier for all people to use it.  The biggest example for most millenials, including myself, used microsoft paint at one point to make their own art.

Computers have influenced art in a very profound way.  The internet is the biggest factor of this, but it is not the only thing you can do on a computer for art.  The biggest example that I can think of, and that I personally use is microsoft paint. I would spend hours on paint making circles and coloring them in different colors to make an abstract painting.  Another example of non-internet art is photoshop and photo editing. It is very common for people to take their photos and change them to black and white or putting another filter on it. It also used to be a fun past-time to photoshop celebrities into pictures and onto funny backgrounds.

The internet is a big proponent of making art more tangible for the public.  Now people can look up famous artists from the past and present. With a quick Google search one can find out the personal information and art styles of famous artists throughout time.  This means that art can now be seen in more places than just a museum. Schools take advantage of this when teaching students about art. Now they can pull up photos and video tours of large and expensive museums that they can not afford to take their students to.

Social media in particular allows people to be more creative themselves.  It creates a forum for people to express themselves by posting their art online.  Whether that be art that they did not create using technology, like drawings, or art created by technology, like photos.  Social media also allows people to learn how to create art. The biggest example of this is Pinterest, where there are thousands of DIY art projects for whatever you could possibly need.  Youtube also has a lot of DIY content for people to learn whatever they need. I personally use Pinterest on a regular basis for DIY ideas and art projects.

Overall technology, computers specifically, have made art more accessible to the public.  This has helped make people more creative and learn more about art technique and art history.  The internet pushes people to explore their creative sides and to try new things that they never thought they could do before.

Taking Advantage of Ann Arbor’s Music Scene

Like many other students on the U of M campus, I sometimes struggle with boredom. To be bored is a privilege of course, but the feeling is there, and it is palpable nonetheless. By the time the weekend comes and I’m ready to let myself forget about the stress of the past week, I’m always itching to do something fun, go somewhere cool, and eat something good. Usually I can’t do all three of those things, but I compromise with at least one. A lot of times I just go out to parties with my friends, but it’s honestly never actually fun. I have no idea why I still go out every weekend when I’m truly quite introverted and an early sleeper. For some reason I always think, “This time will be different!” even though it never is. I know I’m not the only person who holds this sentiment. 

Recently I realized that I really underappreciate Ann Arbor’s music scene. This town is a top tour destination for a lot of famous artists. Also, the local musicians here are incredible. Have you ever visited the Detroit Street Filling Station when they have live music? I highly recommend it. We are so lucky to have such a rich culture of music on our campus, and the fact that it’s so easily accessible for students makes it even better.

 

You can never go wrong with a University Musical Society concert, especially when student tickets start at just $12. (Seriously, UMS is an invaluable resource on this campus. Never again in your life will you be able to see world-class performances for such an incredible price!) Another opportunity for entertainment on campus is seeing theatre by various student production companies, like MUSKET, whose production of Cabaret will be opening soon. But recently I discovered a new venue on campus that is super cool and very underrated: The Ark.

 

The Ark is located on Main Street near Conor O’Neill’s and Pretzel Bell. It’s currently under construction, but you can find it by the line of people going out the door every night. The acts are usually Americana/roots music artists, but the genres are loosely defined so there’s a lot of variation in what you can hear. Last Friday I heard former U-M music student Jeremy Kittel perform with his band Kittel & Co., and I was pleasantly surprised by the casual yet intimate atmosphere. Tickets can be anywhere from $11-$50, but I did some extra research online and it seems rare that any acts exceed the price of $20. That’s what I like to see, very student friendly!

 

Inside The Ark, there’s a cafe/bar where you can buy popcorn, candies, and drinks to accompany the concert. There is ample seating on three sides of the stage, but the middle of the seating area is reserved for members. You can also sit in tables closer to the stage if you’re into that dinner-theatre vibe. I just think it’s a great place to go that’s low-stakes and unintimidating if you want to enjoy some music. This week they’re actually starting Pre-Sale student tickets for their 42nd Annual Folk Festival on January 25th and 26th, 2019. You can grab those tickets in person at the Michigan Union Ticket Office until November 10th.

Photo courtesy of CBS Detroit.