Heat Death of the Universe

As we grow older, we strive for order, stability, and equilibrium in our lives, sometimes at the expense of change, progress, and motion. Here is my experimental short film "Heat Death of the Universe", first installment of my Stasis Trilogy.

When people are at the early stages of their lives, as they are not yet lulled into the comfortable numbness of order, routine, and predictability, they are more free in their decisions. They are not afraid of making mistakes. As they get a job, move out from their parents’ place, get into serious relationships, build a home, buy some furniture, replace some of those with nicer ones, decorate their home exactly as they like it, balance their bank account, figure out all their income, all the bills, all the mortgage payments, and divvy up the remaining amount into various, age-appropriate social and cultural activities, a holiday, once a split-second decision, becomes a one-weeks-notice affair, then a part of their yearly holiday plans, then a flat out impossibility. They wouldn’t want to take the risk of disrupting the delicate order and balance they have built into their lives, with much, much effort. They might stop doing a lot of the things they used to do, so as not to endanger the house of cards they have oh so carefully built. This video depicts a couple, so afraid of losing the order and structure they have built into their lives, they are now unable to move a finger.

I have likened their situation to the concept known as the heat death of the universe. Every interesting or exciting event in the universe happens not due to energy, but a difference in energy. When a mass of very warm air meets a mass of cold air, that creates turbulence. During this initial period they swirl into each other and create a plethora of interesting patterns. However, as time passes, temperatures of the two masses equalize. They settle down. After the thermal equilibrium is reached, nothing interesting happens ever again. Heat death of the universe is the same thing, but on a universal scale. When every star depletes all of its fuel, when every piece of matter reaches thermal equilibrium, when there is no energy difference, no useful energy, the universe will turn into a lukewarm, dark, lifeless place, and stay like that until the end of time.

facial motion capture

For the music, I have used pre-recorded sounds, because for so long they have been the elementary particles of western classical music, and because in their recorded form, they are unable to change ever again. I have used sounds from the archive of Istanbul Composers Collective, and some snippets from other sources. At first, I wanted to use CatArt but it wasn’t able to handle the large amounts of samples I needed to use. So I have manually categorized around 1500-2000 samples into 4 different Sampler instruments in Ableton. Multi-layered structure of sounds, seeming barrage of new ideas, as opposed to developing an existing idea, hide the fact that almost the entirety of the music may be reduced into more or less two chords. Much like the fact that we fill our lives with glamorous, but ultimately unnecessary things, to create the illusion that something is happening, that the universe is not dead, yet.

For the 3D models, I have used an open source software called Meshroom. I took 997 pictures of the models (my wife Deniz Kureta, and my friend Mithatcan Ocal), and my living room to create the 3D setting of the video. Then I imported all the models into a 3D animation/design software called Blender, which is also open source. Inside Blender, I have treated the virtual room as a film set and shot the video using 3 cameras. I have also used Blender for facial motion capture. This has been the first time I have used either of these two programs, so this was all possible thanks to various open source communities throughout the web.

This experimental short film, “Heat Death of the Universe” is the first installment of my Stasis Trilogy.