Manageable Horizons

Is JJ Abrams America’s next great landscape painter? As I’ve noted previously, his new show Fringe introduces typography as a landscape element – merging rendered letters into a seamless filmic space to erase the notion of a picture plane. In these urban views the type floats lightly but is still firmly in the world of the show rather than belonging to the world of the viewer, us, like typical titles glued to the vertical plane of the screen. The titles, our armature of interpretation, share a horizon with the world we’re viewing. We’re sucked in.

The trailer for Abram’s new Star Trek movie opens with views of a high speed chase. Big sky, wide horizon, palpable nostalgia? It’s the American West! But… what is that ghost on the skyline?


Complete with period car, this is what it would have been like to approach Corbu’s Ville Radieuse should Houston have decided to buy into his scheme when Paris passed.




Source: Star Trek trailer

The culmination of these spectral views is our first glimpse at the iconic Enterprise. The central figure arrives at the den of these spectres and the end of the world – the end of his world, literally – on his motorcycle. Technology delivers technology. Like the viewer who cannot escape the typography of Fringe, world and text merged into one, this sequence of images presents a typical Abramsonian connundrum: technology will always fail you, but you will only have more technology to help. Nature is just a backdrop; it’s literally a landscape and nothing more.

The game is one of horizons: showing and hiding them. Like the opening sequence of LOST, the horizon is collaged with technological fragments into a scene of techno-sublime before quickly being eclipsed by more, messier technology. Amidst the chaos of the introductory crash scene, Jack and the other characters scramble to cannibalize the scraps of the plane itself into useful survival tools. Technology has already subsumed nature. It’s inescapable (mysterious smoke? hatches?) – all you can hope to do is break these monolithic technologies into more manageable fragments and use those chunks to piece the world back together into something knowable, a world with horizons again.


Source: Lostpedia

1 Comment so far

  1. Andrew liebchen on November 23rd, 2008

    I’m sure you’ve seen this.

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