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Will Wright and Brian Eno: Playing with Time

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In a dazzling duet Will Wright and Brian Eno gave an intense clinic on the joys and techniques of generative creation.

Back in the 1970s both speakers got hooked by cellular automata such as Conway's Game of Life, where just a few simple rules could unleash profoundly unpredictable and infinitely varied dynamic patterns. Cellular automata were the secret ingredient of Wright's genre-busting computer game SimCity in 1989. Eno was additionally inspired by Steve Reich's It's Gonna Rain, in which two identical 1.8 second tape loops beat against each other out of phase for a riveting 20 minutes. That idea led to Eno's Music for Airports (1978), and the genre he named ambient music was born.

Wright observed that science is all about compressing reality to minimal rule sets, but generative creation goes the opposite direction. You look for a combination of the fewest rules that can generate a whole complex world which will always surprise you, yet within a framework that stays recognizable. It's not engineering and design, he said, so much as it is gardening. You plant seeds. Richard Dawkins says that a willow seed has only about 800K of data in it.

Eno noted that ambient music, unlike narrative music with a beginning, middle, and end, presents a steady state. It's more like watching a river. Wright said he often uses Eno's music to work to because it gets him in a productive trancelike state. Eno remarked that it's important to keep reducing what the music attempts, and one way he does that is compose everything at double the speed it will be released. Slowing it down reduces its busyness. Wright: How about an album of the fast versions? Eno: 'Amphetamine Ambient.'

These generative forms depend very much on the user actively making connections, Eno said. In my art installations I always have sound and light elements that are completely unsynchronized, and people always assume that they are tightly synchronized. The synchronization occurs in them.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Whole Earth Films
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000V76TSE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,219 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Brian Eno, but this DVD was a bit disappointing. There was too much of Will Wright and not enough of Brian Eno. This is just a video of a lecture, and while the video is good for a lecture, I expected more since Brian Eno was a part of it. Will Wright does give a demo of Spore on this DVD, and he does most of the talking, occasionally asking for input from Brian Eno. Certainly there is some insight into Brian Eno's work, but I expected more.

This is also a very minimal DVD, it is just the video of the lecture, that is it, no extras.
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Comfortable and effective delivery of very heady, thought provoking ideas by two well established professionals in their fields. Educational, entertaining, and humorous at times, this moves along at a very nice pace. It is so refreshing to see folks expanding their art forms, producing results that are easily digested and enjoyed. Very cool. I wouldn't call this a lecture exactly, but it is easily the most interesting presentation or lecture I have ever witnessed.
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Yes, it is a big ad for the game Spore. However, it is also Brian Eno talking about deep stuff. Two very smart, albeit eccentric, creative types talk to each other(indeed, at times it seems the audience is nonexistent). You will gain insight into things like applying Chaos theory to video games and understanding how Eno makes his music.
It is also an interesting character study of Eno in his later life. He's obviously a big fan of Spore's creator, but in the way that Andy Warhol was interested in Basquiat: one is obviously the visionary and one is the brilliant coat-tail rider. Eno being the cross platform visionary, and Will, just another programming genius lucky enough to have his games liked by the fickle video game buyers of the world, absent any charisma or real world life experience. He's just using Eno's name to generate publicity for his special generative algorithms because nobody remembers he designed Sims. You can tell how little he understands Eno or his work by some of the lame questions he poses.
The format is a casual lecture, with Eno playing sounds from his laptop(that we really only hear in the background, which is ironic, because that is what Eno is famous for) while the game designer verbally masturbates about his creation.
I gave it four stars because the packaging and description are misleading.

It's an interesting lecture that belongs in anyone's collection of Eno memorabilia.
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