Pataphysics & Diagetic Prototypes in filmPhysical computing
After learning about the meaning of pataphysics and diegetic prototypes, I began to think about one of my favourite films: A Series of Unfortunate Events, originally written novel series by Lemony Snicket and now a short Netflix series. By using diegetic prototypes and pataphysics, the author was able to make the characters and story believable as well as use that believability to create connection with the audience and empathy from the audience.
In the film, the character Olaf disguises himself into many “family members” of the children in order to take over their fortune. Each of his disguised characters live in a setting that is completely pataphysical. But because there are a few semiotics used in each setting that everyone recognizes, the audience doesn’t fall into complete disbelief and fantasy. The baby in the film was told to have super-biting powers and appears as a genius in the art of biting. In reality, no baby could sculpt objects by biting but what if they could?
In fact, each character in the film has specific objects and costume used to create a believable personality. In fantasy films, this tactic is called diegesis and they only exist in the fictional world and only functions in that world.
In the scene below from the movie, Klaus uses various objects found around Olaf’s house to invent and create working diegetic prototypes that are pataphysical.
Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions which symbolically attributes the properties of object, described by their virtuality. It is something that in reality would not be an object of functionality that one could find useful but the creation of these objects serve as something interesting that goes beyond what’s given, usual, and certain. In this story, all reality has been deconstructed and questioned.
For designers, we could use diegetic prototypes and pataphysics to create alternate realities and to question the norm.