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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Acoustic Space: A Short, Sage and Funny Movie

Just saw Acoustic Space, a short film by Anthony Marinelli currently on the film festival circuit, and based on the award-winning play by Marinelli of the same name.   That name is taken from Marshall McLuhan's phrase - "acoustic space" - which McLuhan created to describe the all-at-once immersion of the electronic environment.   In contrast to visual space, in which we tend to focus on a single direction or source of information, acoustic space gives us information from everywhere in the environment at once.  We can hear radio, for example, regardless of where our eyes may be focused - that's why listening to the radio works so well when we're driving a car.   McLuhan wrote this in the 1960s and 70s.   In my Digital McLuhan (1999) and New New Media (2009, 2012), I explored how what McLuhan wrote 40-50 years earlier was even more applicable to our current digital age, in which we're even more immersed in information than we were back then.

Acoustic Space the movie is both predicated on our digital immersion and a delightful and intelligent word-play on acoustic.  A couple about to have dinner in a restaurant are talking more to people on their phones than they are to each other.  We've seen scenarios like this before, but Marinelli  brings a special wit and pizzazz to the endeavor, with the couple almost seeming to be talking to one another when they're not, because the words they're saying on the phone have so much in common.

The man is an advertising exec and the woman is trying to give advice to her friend whose relationship is falling apart.   Acoustic Space thus resonates with the best of Mad Men and Girls.  The waiter - not at all a dumb waiter - also has some memorable lines.  If Woody Allen - who also had what to do with McLuhan in Annie Hall - and his irrepressible sketches of urban, high-tech frenetic life are to your liking, you're bound to enjoy Acoustic Space.   Indeed, I have no doubt that once it's released to the public, lots of people will be talking about it - in person and on phones in restaurants.

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