UNCANNY VALLEY: How to use and abuse your brain.
As meditation, mindfulness and interest in consciousness is becoming mainstream, we want to tackle these issues from a completely alternative angle. The show will explore the possibilities, humor and paradoxes of the human experience. You’ll enter each episode with an interest in the complex relationship between consciousness and reality, mind and body, the self and others—and come out the other side baffled, intrigued, and weirdly horny.
Frank Yang is a bodybuilder, thinker, violinist, artist and filmmaker with 150.000 followers of his weekly video uploads on YouTube where he tackles topics like meditation, aesthetics, consciousness and exercise in an inventive and absurd style. Kristoffer Borgli is a Norwegian filmmaker who recently made the feature film DRIB, a film that simultaneously exposes and revels in media manipulation as it explores the advertising industry and specifically a true case of energy drink marketing. Our common attraction to certain aesthetics and philosophy brought us together, and now we have started a collaboration*.
The show will be structured so each episode tackles a topic related to a phenomenological state. This could be Dysmorphia, Love, The Self, Delusions or Free Will. For each episode, we will explore the topic in four to five different segments, each segment has its own format: a short film, a skit, a visual essay, a strange interview, etc.
Let’s take DYSMORPHIA as an example: First, Frank narrates and stars in a visual essay montage about the the topic, his usual unique take, like in his YouTube-videos**, only much higher production value. He connects phenomenons in the world with his own inherent paradoxes as a great thinker and bodybuilder. He's playing violin inside a fitness gym for a crowd of people in tuxedos, or going naked around inside a monastery.
Then we’d cut to a short film about the same topic. For DYSMORPHIA an idea would be to have an extremely normal sitcom script, something like Everybody Loves Raymond, but cast it with highly unusual people: Adam Pearson, the facially disfigured actor from DRIB and Under The Skin is Raymond, his wife is extremely obese, and his brother a bodybuilder, but it is never reflected upon, they act as if they are "normal". A short segment documents a fictional trend where girls scalp themselves. Another segment is a swingers club where people come to "mind fuck".
Or for the episode about MEDITATION, in one section Frank Yang teaches people to fine-tune and enhance their senses through his “extreme meditation session”. He’ll then take the group to a gallery where they have the most extreme reactions to classical paintings and sculptures. They pass out, cry, or vomit—all staged and shot in real galleries. Then the same exercise is applied in a fine restaurant, but it becomes a problem when they can't stop these extreme reactions to the smallest stimuli in their lives.
The same episode would have an interview with someone like Eckhart Tolle, the master of enlightenment and meditation. Inspired by the famous interview where Werner Herzog gets shot in the stomach, we have a similar documentary interview with Tolle. Instead of being in his usual quite habitat, we conduct the interview in Los Angeles, and while filming Downtown he suddenly gets punched in the face by a random guy. He remains equanimous and wants to continue the interview, so we relocate to a quieter spot in the hills. He's talking to us about mindfullness, but in mid sentence he gets shot in the stomach. Everyone is in shock and running around, but Tolle remains calm. Once again we relocate, this time to a diner. Tolle, while holding napkins to his stomach to stop the bleeding, continues the interview totally unaffected. But it happens again, someone stabs a knife through his hand on the table. And so it goes on.
The final segment could be a documentary portrait about an ugly little man who has been working 20 years successfully as a pick-up artist. He is so good at manipulating people's minds, and numbed by romance, that he now talks people into doing engage in absurd activities for his own amusement. He makes a gas station employee pump gasoline in to his own mouth, and light himself on fire, after talking to him for only 40 seconds—but suddenly he finds true love and loses his talent.
In an episode titled “NO SELF” we will demonstrate the illusion of the self. We'll use "Tom Cruise" as an example, and deconstruct multiple parts of his personality, and relocate them in other people: his good looks (played by a lookalike or model), his speed (Frank Yang’s super sprint), his faith (a scientologist) his skills (an actor). A film is created where we see how these parts work interact with each other. In one day, "Tom Cruise" has a hectic schedule and needs to sprint to an audition, attend a dinner date, and in a final dash reach a new level of Scientology. We'll use the right part of his personality at the right time, to show the fluidity of the self. Then, in a different segment, a woman explains “no-self” as she gradually turns into a spiritually awakened Jim Carrey (made with extremely complicated visual effects).
In the LOVE episodeFrank Yang will attempt to seduce his own clone. We will look at love from female perspectives, delusional perspectives and religious perspectives. We'll also experience the world's deepest sneaker review, a condensed high end remake of his YouTube video where we first meet the 12 year old Frank Yang in a “Boyhood” style journey, following his life long admiration for the Nike Air One. (Excerpt: https://vimeo.com/237447432)
These are all early ideas that will continue to grow and get stronger with time and love put in to it. While Kristoffer will retract behind the camera, Frank will appear in the show from time to time, and we will both be writing and collaborating as a team. The show will be a gallery of ideas, manifested as short films, performances, interviews, dream sequences, and animations. A creative explosion of sound and imagery to make the audience question everything they believe, all while, in Frank's words, drinking mental cum.
— Kristoffer & Frank