Concept Q5

I found it difficult to create a story or have a point of view on bankers and portray that in an animation. I needed to find my own way to show the theme of this assignment. For my keuzevak I’ve been researching the Japanese ‘Ma’ which means ’emptiness’. The Japanese really appreciate emptiness in their lives, work, in their everything. Without this emptiness there is no value in things or life. I wanted to use this principle with this assignment and my concept.

I wanted to show the busy, chaotic world of someone working at the office of a bank, analyzing stocks or graphs of some kind. No one can function without some peace, or in this case, ‘ma’ in their life. I wanted to show people change because of ‘Ma’. With that in mind, I did some more research and then came up with two ideas.


Research: Ma

Ma is the emptiness full of possibilities, like a promise yet to be fulfilled.

E.g.: a tea break in a busy day has to be in a quiet place, away from the routines of work — so that one can soak in the serenity of Ma before getting back to busy life.

Ma is what creates the peace of mind (called ‘heijoshin’ in Japanese) we all need, so that there is room for our thoughts to exist properly, and to thrive.

https://wawaza.com/pages/when-less-is-more-the-concept-of-japanese-ma.html

In nothingness, Ma enables. The empty boundary provides a place for everyone’s version of reality or imagination to exist. The further my text spreads out the more you wander away from my message and in fill with your own thoughts.

Ma reminds us that what isn’t there provides the ability for everyone’s story to co-exist. It is the boundaries of space that allow us, and all our ideas, to exist side by side.

http://www.mascontext.com/issues/17-boundary-spring-13/the-potential-in-nothing/

Everyone needs Ma in their life. It’s important to take breaks from work so you don’t stress. Without a moment of emptiness/nothingness you can reflect on other things, appreciate other things around you and let appreciate the work that you’ve done.

Ma gives meaning to things.  E.g.: where there is clutter, even valuable things lose their value. Where there is too much, nothing stands out.

Emptiness, Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;

And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

Bankers need Ma just like everyone. Without it they might turn into psychopaths because of the horrible system in banks (Luyendijk/Het brein van de bankier). They need balance in their lives.



Ideas:

1.

There’s a banker who is having a tough time at work. There’s a lot to do, it’s loud, his boss keeps yelling at him, his pay is low, there are too many people, he’s always cranky at work… Everything’s chaotic at work and he doesn’t seem to calm down soon.

We see him waiting outside somewhere with his back to a building, looking across the road at the people and cars passing by. He has a cigarette in one hand and he’s pinching the bridge of his nose with his other hand. You can clearly see that he’s stressed and cranky. He probably also has a headache. People around him give him weird looks, avoiding his gaze, keeping their distance.

While he’s looking at the rushing cars and chattering people passing by, events of the day flash by: the stacks of paperwork/documents, the chaos on his desktop/table, the looks of co-workers, the many footsteps, the yelling, the spit flying out of his boss’ mouth and landing on his face… While these images flash by, his face twists and turns, his headache only seems to be getting worse, the sounds around him keep getting louder, his boss’ voice keeps on drumming on in his head. The image keeps switching from the banker’s face to the events playing on repeat in his head, building up.

It looks like he’s about to lose it but then we hear a soft, high voice that breaks through all the chaos in his head. Everything seems to slow around him. His mind is clear. He turns and sees his son/daughter standing next to him, looking up at him with a smile on their face.

He notices the smallest details of the child: the breeze moving their hair, their smile with missing teeth, every little detail in their eyes.

We see the banker’s face: his scowl is gone, we can see him relax, forgetting about the events of the day. (Maybe his eyes are even a little watery.) He sighs and smiles. He’s found his Ma.

(He takes his child’s hand and they go home/He kneels down, gives his kid a hug and the kid starts telling him about everything that happened at school…)


2. 

(Setting: Office building, part of bank, City park – Japan.)

(Time: early afternoon, Summer)

The main character’s a man at the (office of a) bank, working behind a crowded desk. The rest of the room is filled with other bankers/accountants/brokers and people working. There is no break in the phones ringing, the people walking back and forth, and the tapping on keyboards; there’s no peace. It’s visible that the main character is exhausted and has a lot of weight on his shoulders but he stills has a lot of work to do.

As he stares at his screen analyzing graphs e.g., a co-worker opens a window close to the main character’s desk. Being so close by, the light Summer breeze ruffles through some of his papers and touches his face. The breeze carries a light fragrance of flowers and grass. He instinctively looks outside.

Next to the office-building there’s a small garden in the heart of the city, like an oasis. He sees the different kinds of flowers and trees and notices someone sitting alone under a tree. It’s a woman, maybe in her 30s. Her eyes are closed, her legs stretched out, hands on her lap. She looks at peace. She’s not doing anything, just sitting there enjoying doing nothing and being away from the busy city and work life. The breeze lightly ruffles through her hair. It ruffles through the main character’s hair as well. He doesn’t feel like he’s in the office anymore. He feels like he’s in the garden, enjoying the breeze, the fragrant flowers, the sun shining through the branches and leaves of the trees touching his face. He forgets about the world around him. All the sounds of his surroundings fade away. He hears the leaves rustling in the wind, a wind chime, a gentle stream and birds singing in the distance. He closes his eyes. For a moment there’s nothing. Just peaceful emptiness and the distant sounds of the garden…

He slowly opens his eyes. His surroundings look different to him. Everything’s clearer. He looks rested. He sighs and smiles. Looks out the window one more time and gets back to work. We keep looking at the window, getting closer. All background noises fade away. We see the sky. There’s nothing but silence, peace…, Ma.


Out of the two ideas I have I like the second idea more because it portrays Ma more clearly. I want viewers to be able to understand Ma and it may not be as clear in the first idea as I feel it is in the second idea.

So, number 2 it is!

Les 1 Research: Sponge Session

The Great Depression:

Hooverville

The first thing I could think of when I thought of financial crises, was the Great Depression after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Instead of focusing on the banks and the details of what happened during the Crash and who caused it, I thought of the people who were affected the most by it; people living in Hoovervilles e.g., like the famous picture of the woman and her children. I like to focus on people and their emotions, and how they cope in hard times, that’s probably why I chose these pictures and not any pictures of stock traders or business men during the Crash.


Hebert Logerie (poetry):

In This Financial Crisis, We All Need A Miracle (2009)

Wall Street stock prices have plummeted next to nothing,
Our 401k,403b and 457 plans have lost more that half of their values.
The wars have exhausted our resources; no more fancy menus.
Downtown is like a ghost town, everybody is scared; nobody is shopping.

Big banks, who have ingeniously robbed us, are not lending money
To businesses, and to potential customers with immaculate credit.
The real estate market is in shambles, the perpetrator of this insanity.
Decent people are threatened to become homeless for bad debt.

Wall Street and Main Street collide; Main Street cannot take it anymore.
In this financial crisis, amidst this man-made tsunami,
We all need a miracle; we all need help immediately;
The last administration really fouled up to the core.

Thank God, Brother Bama is at the helm; thank God,
He is doing a super job and is using all sorts of avenues
To stimulate the economy, to create different venues;
Those are going to invigorate the country, thank God.

Thank God, we are fighting like tigers, like winners.
We still have hope; through hard works and discipline,
We will see happier and better financial days again.
In this financial crisis, we all need the miracle of our prayers.

Wall Street And The 99 Percent (2011)

You can bet your bottom or your upper dollar
Where there is money, there is a lot crooks,
Unimaginable corruption, chefs cooking the books,
Accountants being zealously creative, Auditors stealing the jar,
And Managers looking the other way, away from the sun.

Wall Street ignores the facts that it exists because of Main Street.
It is about time that it shows more respect and compassion
By doing the following: Stop all unfair exploitation,
Give the middle class and the poor something neat,
Free of surprises and bed bugs that can destroy all fun.

The Hedge Fund Managers ought to receive a substantial pay cut,
They already have money set aside for their tenth generation,
They should give the maids, the babysitters better compensation,
So they can live comfortably not like some sorry nuts
Who need daily prayers from a pervert priest and a sad nun.

Oh! It is unfortunate that the Mayor and the Police
Are not too happy that the protesters occupy the park.
This is America, this is New York City; let the dogs bark,
Because Wall Street is infested with bears that love grease,
Gold, diamond, sausage, pepperoni on a monster bun.

The 99 percent can peacefully change the course,
Stimulate the economy and improve the discourse.
There is going to be a party, only coffee will be served,
No toxic tea will be allowed; the Activists deserve
Compassion and admiration when all is said and done.

The protesters are right: no more foreclosures,
No more layoff of teachers and other dedicated workers.
We all want peace and respect; love and decent perks
Will solve all problems. Let’s talk and quit behaving like jerks.
Let’s all strive to make tomorrow a better place for our children

I happened to find two poems by Hebert Logerie about the financial crisis and Wall Street. I like how these poems talk about the hard times that the people must live in, and that the financial world is a hard and cruel place, but that even though there are tough times we should all strive to survive, live on, take care of our children, and peacefully change the course of everything.


Literature

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/books/review/capital-a-novel-by-john-lanchester.html?_r=0

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/capital-a-financial-crisis-satire

I like the idea of a satire of the financial crisis and that’s why John Lanchester’s book Capital seemed interesting to me.


Games

Last of Us, (2013) (post-apocalyptic, survivors)

While I was immersed in the world of the 99% and everyone who suffered the most from financial crises, I thought of pure survival and of course of The Last of Us. It may have nothing to do with banks or finance, but it does have to do we survival and perseverance which was important for many during the financial crises.


TV Series & Movies

Mad Men, (2007 – 2015)

Mad Men poster, season 5

From survivors and ‘normal’ people to the world of the business man and the corporate world. The first thing I thought of was a suit, and then the TV series Mad Men. This series basically shows the highs and lows of powerful business men and companies and how they are also psychologically affected. I think the psychological part of this is the most interesting. I also really like the poster of Don Draper sitting in a chair with a cigarette in his hand while his office is filling with water. I can make connections between this one poster and the bank world and bankers: putting on a strong façade, but ultimately succumbing to the pressure of the financial world and the crises.

Mr. Robot (2015), TV series

Mr. Robot is an American TV Series that tells the story of a hacker who joins an underground group that aspires to take down the corporate America. The rebellion is what I find extremely interesting. And again, it’s kind of about survivors trying to change the world and set things right.

American Psycho, (2000)

Focusing more on the psychological effect the corporate/business/banker’s world can have on someone, I thought of American Psycho. I really liked this shot of Patrick Bateman. It has so much emotion in it. To show the emotion of a banker would be interesting: the build-up and break-down of someone, shown through facial expressions.

Goodbye Shanghai, (2010)

This short film was pretty interesting. It tells the story of two Western bankers who have embezzled a lot of money from a Chinese bank for the US government, and take 15 million of this embezzled cash for themselves. The two now have to wait until morning to leave Shanghai. One of the bankers is really relaxed and persuades the other to go to a night club (with all the money hidden in a bass case), the other is stressed and extremely nervous. The contrast between these two men was interesting.

It also explored the negative effects of Western imperialism on modern Chinese culture, which was also pretty interesting.


Molly Crabapple, Debt and Her Debtors (2013)

This illustration seemed extremely interesting to me. It shows cats as wealthy business men and basically the rulers of the world. Mice are the poorer and climbing the latter set up by the cats leading to a ‘better world’, only to be deceived, fall, and get turned into money by the cats. It stood out to me.

TSB poster, Keep A Good Balance (1951)

Ah.. How nice everything looks in this poster. It would be interesting to show a contrast between this happiness and carefreeness, and the world after a financial crisis.


Sleepy Duo, Hulton Archive, children oblivious to the world

I started to think about how children were affected during a financial crisis. Were they even aware of what was going on? Or were they oblivious to their surrounding world like these two children are, fast asleep?

Nobody Knows (2004), King of the Hill (1993)

Focusing on children, I thought these two movies had interesting stories. They show the lives of children who have to fend for themselves in hard times with no one to really rely on, and not much money to survive on. They start out pretty carefree, not really understanding the situation that they were in, but ultimately having to face reality. In King of the Hill, the boy is faced with the reality of the Great Depression.


Tegenlicht: Het brein van de bankier (2013)

http://tegenlicht.vpro.nl/afleveringen/2012-2013/Joris.html

Tegenlicht: De biecht van de bankier, (2014)

http://tegenlicht.vpro.nl/afleveringen/2013-2014/de-biecht-van-de-bankier.html

The New York Times, John Coates, 2012, The Biology of Bubble and Crash:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/opinion/sunday/the-biology-of-bubble-and-crash.html?pagewanted=all

The mind and psychological well-being of a banker seems really interesting to me, so these Tegenlicht episodes and New York Times article stood out to me.