Discover more from Scenes with Simon
Past Lives and The Boys of Summer
Also: 0xDeafBeef and Context, WGA Updates, and a Epidemic Sound Detour
As one grows older, there’s a unique form of grief: realising that some lives you could’ve lead aren’t possible anymore. Cities you might have lived in, careers you might have considered, friends you wished you made, people you wished had seen, health restricting you, and media you hoped to enjoy.
The past week, I was reminded of this again through a video game art project by Mitchell Chan, called The Boys of Summer and the A24 film, Past Lives.
In Past Lives, a married, immigrant Korean American woman reconnects with her childhood sweetheart from South Korea. It’s a thoroughly gentle and intimate film that tenderly approaches a topic that can sometimes put a lot of stress on any relationship. It’s an extremely common theme of life, when a what if (in whatever form), comes back. Well worth the watch.
And then, in the Boys of Summer, a mixture of video game, NFT collection, and quantified self stats maximizing experience, players try to get into the baseball majors and win.
It starts off as a simple goal in high school, min-maxing a handful of stats. You, the player, are present and visible.
Then, over time, the game throws spreadsheets at you faster than you can understand them. Years suddenly turn into multiple years, and before you know it, the game ends with your death.
In my first play-through, instead of going to the majors, I went to Harvard and tried to improve my investment returns. 😅
What I enjoyed about this presentation was that it reflects how life sometimes feels: we get lost behind our spreadsheets running ahead of us. Like gravity, we collect more numbers and before we know it, it’s all over: thank you for playing. Couple with the fact that it’s an NFT collection adds to the feeling of inevitability of it all: appending your metadata of your plays to an immutable ledger where you can’t reverse its history. The past is done.
It’s easy when faced with past lives and the spreadsheets of life and get depressed. But, I think both projects also shine a light onto this grief. In Past Lives, the characters maturely deal with this conundrum (instead of the usual appeal to conflict and drama), and the story eventually filters in a new spiritual view of not our past, but the future.
In The Boys of Summer, despite the fact it this spreadsheet life being inevitable, you can restart as much as you want. Over time, the game reveals more hidden metrics and together with other players sharing their information, there’s a new shared goal towards finishing it in the way one wants to. Despite this, music remains playful. Behind all of this is still us, wanting to be eternal boys of summer, to play. We just need to remind ourselves of that.
Scenes with Simon is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Context and 0xDeafbeef
There’s something else that Boys of Summer also does: it allows you to change the title card of the game based on the specific player (pulled from the blockchain). It’s a simple gesture to show and add provenance to the artwork.
There’s a long form article I’ve been meaning to write related to context creation and provenance in NFT projects, but for now will have to settle in just sharing them. :)
Deafbeef draws attention to the blockchain’s status as a clock, staking its entire claim to value on its ability to reflect an irrefutably true sequence of events, like capturing the order of steps in a horse’s gallop. One crucial detail that warrants further reflection is the fact that owners can only capture more Chronophotographs at longer and longer intervals into the future, and that those images will become bigger and bigger. This feature gestures at the precarious future of blockchain technology itself. Deafbeef shows that the blockchain is a clock, but it’s a clock with an uncertain future.
Gas Station as America’s Piazza) on the American Gas Station.
I see you took pictures of the living room from certain strategic vantage points. Perhaps it was to obscure the bustling gas station across the street from your building. I see no reason to have done this - Gas stations are the Italian piazzas of America. The bay window in the living room facing the gas station's southern corner has become my hang-out spot. I sit there like an old Italian man drinking espresso and reading his newspaper on a crisp summer day in Tuscany. Instead of a newspaper, I have a 2020 M1 Macbook that I mostly use to send emails. I drink Nestle instant coffee instead of espresso.
Hard to unsee this. Reminded me of Richard Linklater’s Suburbia, where most of the film takes around a gas station.
WGA and First Fallouts
The Hollywood Strikes continue and from the consumer side, we’re seeing some of the first fallouts, having Dune Part 2 being shifted to a 2024 release.
I’m taking a completely uniformed hot take here, but my general feeling is, is that while the delays are a bummer, I think most consumers are generally on the side of the unions. I think, unlike other eras of media, there are actually alternatives to going to a cinema or watching Netflix. So, it’s fine if we just wait. How do you feel as a consumer?
I’m generally enjoying watching the solidarity of the unions. There’s definitely contagion going around and that is worrying the studios and distributors.
Several sources have described Iger as being "personally offended" by the unwillingness of the WGA to agree to the latest AMPTP offer, while Netflix's Ted Sarandos seems to be concerned with agreeing to terms that will used to set a precedent for other territories where Netflix has heavily invested in local production. The immediate concern would be the UK, where unions there are already making some noise about next year's negotiations. And there are similar future concerns in South Korea, India and other APAC markets.
Zora Protocol Rewards
Coming off last week’s section on onchain summer (and my critique on the name of it), I am however enjoying this change in how NFTs are seen (alongside older uses cases). Thisarticle goes deeper into how the protocol works and how it shares revenue with platforms, curators, and creators.
In short, expanding the usage of NFTs beyond just seeing it as artwork, expanding collecting into a new form of a “like” is still a powerful idea and concept. I created a simple graphic for a shared story universe created by my business if you want collect and try it out. :)
Arc de Soleil - Loop Drive
This week’s song is an interesting one… It’s a dreamy pop track that flows and floats. Great for walking and the last bits of Northern Hemisphere summer.
But… I saw it was distributed by Epidemic Sound and wondered this was an actual artist. It is: songs created by Daniel Kadawatha. I didn’t know how this model works, with Epidemic Sounds buying all the rights in the music and asking the artist to leave their collection societies. Epidemic Sound (and the artists) makes most of their money from subscription revenue to the platform, such that people can use the music royalty-free on videos.
Anyway, still a great track!
Enjoy a sunset, and see you next week!