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Robots of Brixton by Kibwe Tavares
July 15, 2011 2:01 AM   Subscribe

Rioting robots on the streets of Brixton, a gorgeous sci-fi/architecture/animation short film by architecture graduate Kibwe Tavares.

Tavares is part of the Factory Fifteen design+architecture collective.
posted by Foci for Analysis (27 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It all starts with the kitchen appliances.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:29 AM on July 15, 2011


Oh, that's neat. Need to sit down and watch it slowly, spot more places that I recognise (Electric Avenue (heh) of course, the market, the seats in the square outside the library...).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:50 AM on July 15, 2011


You had me very excited for a second before I realized that's not a headline.
posted by Taft at 3:04 AM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


For the benefit of non-Brits, Brixton is an area of South London with historically high Afro-Caribbean immigration (notably the Windrush in 1948). There was a famous riot in 1981, due to poverty and tensions with the police. The video references, and includes images from, these riots.

The area is still very racially-mixed, but is becoming more gentrified in parts.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:18 AM on July 15, 2011


The blog History is Made at Night has been doing a series of posts on the 1981 riots in Brixton and elsewhere around England.
posted by Abiezer at 3:36 AM on July 15, 2011


I used to be racially mixed, but then I went to Eton. The Gentrification Master beat the mix out of me and eventually I was so unmixed I was made Head Boy's fag. Each night he would take me out of my packet, light one end of me and suck down long, intoxicating draughts of my gaseous particulates. Such glorious traditions won Britain her Empire, and thus I thank GOD that I am no longer one-sixteenth Hindoo.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder to myself, could life ever be sane again?
posted by doublehappy at 3:59 AM on July 15, 2011


Oh man, I lived in and around Brixton for 4.5 years. That was very cool. Really nice compositing work too. Reminded me of Alive in Joburg, which was, of course, the prototype/precursor for District 9.

All of these things are ultimately very obvious racial allegories, usually made by white fellas, but the SF nerd in me loves the world-building and lived-in feel of these kind of films. They're a kind of terrestrial Used Future combined with semi-apocalyptic elements and they fire all of the fiction circuits in my brain. And hey, if it takes a robot or a 'prawn' to get across the idea that discrimination and oppression are kinda shitty ways to treat other beings, I can deal with the odd heavy-handed metaphor.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:13 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really liked that. The cross fade to the riot police had a strong effect on me. This whole robot opression as analogous to a historical or sociological event meme is something I would like to see more of... even not exclusively with robots. I like the blending of the footage, so you are never sure if you are in the past, or the future. It is as if Scrooge was visited by three ghosts at once...
posted by niccolo at 4:58 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to be racially mixed, but then I went to Eton.

Then you are no longer welcome in our People's Republic of Brixton. (Unless you want to come in as part of the "Claphamisation" of the area....)
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:33 AM on July 15, 2011


Excellent piece, I thought.

The first I'd really heard about the Brixton riots was via Linton Kwese Johnson, so the sample at the end was a nice touch for me.
posted by pompomtom at 5:57 AM on July 15, 2011


It requires a password for me here in the US.
posted by SPUTNIK at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2011


When they kick down your front door/
How're you gonna come?/
With your hands on your hand/
Or on the trigger of your gun Robot Death Ray?
posted by Rangeboy at 6:17 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well done short but... I'm sorry Happy Dave, but the whole "replace black people with robots for extra social commentary" is beginning to feel played out to me.
posted by djrock3k at 7:54 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then you are no longer welcome in our People's Republic of Brixton

Pah! The Anarco-Cynicalist Collective of Hackney mocks and sneers at your southern ways. You class traitors and your fancy "tube stations" think you're so great, grumble grumble grumble.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:28 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


djrock3k: "Well done short but... I'm sorry Happy Dave, but the whole "replace black people with robots for extra social commentary" is beginning to feel played out to me."

Hey, I'm not defending ham-handed social commentary at all (which I don't think this was, it was quite powerful actually), just really enjoyed seeing a place I know well being SF'd up.

That said, I think one of SF's defining features has been and always will be it's ability to recast the issues of today in visions of tomorrow. It's a matter, really, of how crashingly obvious the metaphor is. Some are incredibly subtle, others are not. This one is right around the middle I reckon.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:33 AM on July 15, 2011


This is also on Vimeo but appears to have changed to password protected in the last few hours. I know its getting a theatrial release in London at least (I live round there and there are posters for it in Brixton Tube station) so that might be the reason.

On the Vimeo page (still google cached, currently) someone asks the director about his motivations, and he writes:
Kibwe Tavares: (16 days ago)
Hi Blake,

This was my final project in my Masters degree in Architecture. It was born from me exploring my relationship with race, class and architecture. I am from the area and I see the Brixton riots of 1981 indirectly a key driver into me going too uni and becoming/ an architect. So i wanted to retell the story with a Sci-fi twist without the associated 'baggage' of being a young black Londoner.

Tech wise, I did all the animation, modelling and CGI in 3DSMAX, compositing in After Effects. Filming on a cannon 7D, and tracking with PFtrack. I got help with the sound from the talented Mr Bennacer and DJ Hiatus... And that's it...

For more cool projects, check out Factory Fifteen a small studio we are in the process of starting up.

factoryfifteen.com/

Blake: awesome, thanks for the info!

Kibwe Tavares:

Cheers...
And it took Six month from start to finish, check out the project blog...

kibwetavares.blogspot.com/​
The projet blog is pretty interesting and has a vimeo showreel video with clips from Robots of Brixton and other cool stuff.
posted by memebake at 10:58 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excellent work!
posted by mumimor at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2011


The area is still very racially-mixed, but is becoming more gentrified in parts

Because black or Asian people can't also gentrify somewhere? Wot.*

*I live in Brixton.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2011


Funny, the Circus kept the Scalp-hunters in Brixton.
( Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy.)
posted by clavdivs at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2011


Because black or Asian people can't also gentrify somewhere? Wot.*

Yeah, that comment of mine was pretty cringeworthy, and I apologise. Problem of posting at work and not having an edit window. Certainly wasn't what I was trying to imply, but that's how it came out.

(I live on Brixton Hill near the Windmill).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:06 AM on July 16, 2011


Fair enough Infinite Jest. We must be damn near neighbours. I'm by the prison..
posted by MuffinMan at 2:47 AM on July 16, 2011


I thought you lived on Drury Lane.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:07 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I did. I've had to move nearer the family.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well done short but... I'm sorry Happy Dave, but the whole "replace black people with robots for extra social commentary" is beginning to feel played out to me.

I really liked this short and I think the line for me, in this kind of trope is how the "stand-in black folks" are being used in a given piece.

"Wow, look at the giant cockroaches getting high on cat food who need a white guy to save them", "Look at the blue aliens who are magical and need a white guy to save them", or, "White people with superpowers as metaphors for black people in the 60's" are all pretty problematic.

In this piece, it was a lot more, "Hey, here's this neigbhorhood robots would have if robots had a neighborhood. And then the shit goes down."- having robot police is also a real sort of thing that usually doesn't happen when you have ham-fisted allegories to race issues.
posted by yeloson at 9:16 AM on July 16, 2011


I like the idea, but this is not very well done, technically speaking. The compositing is sloppy, the 3D not great, and the character animation is pretty horrible at times. Sloppy work.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:53 AM on July 16, 2011


I like the idea, but this is not very well done, technically speaking. The compositing is sloppy, the 3D not great, and the character animation is pretty horrible at times. Sloppy work.

I noticed a few hitches in the character animations, and there were some clipping issues, but for 1 guy who only had 6 months or so, that's impressive.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:23 PM on July 29, 2011


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