Do we lose a dimension in 3D?

After a week consisting of a host of sensory stimuli, I find myself musing on the subject of 3D cinema.  I’ve been reading Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing“, a fabulous collection of ramshackle, maddening essays on the creative process.  It’s difficult to read them without your brain sizzling – his judicious carpet-bombing approach to metaphor leaves you ruthlessly overstimulated and utterly satisfied by the third page.  A lazy glance at his Wikipedia entry led me to this charming poster from It Came From Outer Space!

This 1953 offering was Universal’s first film to use 3D recording technology.  57 years later, the technology seems to be on the verge of going mainstream, with scores of films being shown in 3D, even entering our homes as 3D TVs.  The irony is immediately apparent – Bradbury’s contempt for the device “all our furniture [is] pointed at” (Joey from Friends, not Bradbury!) is the driving force behind his most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, a future where headlong hedonism and banal stimulation is the only culture.

I admit that I have had little experience with 3D films – my only experience being watching Avatar in 3D so close to the screen that my eyeballs were knotted.  Even then, I still felt generally distracted rather than entertained.  By comparison, I was thoroughly engrossed by Inception, which utterly suspended my disbelief this weekend on a much smaller (if still handsome) budget.  The infusing of well considered ideas with sharp dialogue is much better for me than all the explosions a computer can simulate.

Perhaps I’m being a little harsh.  One film is not enough to judge an entire medium – I’m sure wireless afficionados had similar disinterest in television.  But it’ll take a lot for me to change my mind.

I went to St. Andrews to watch the British Open on Friday.  Watching pros putt on those vast, undulating, tortuous greens in the flesh highlights just how badly 2DTV captures the lay of the golfing land.  If 3DTV advances to the point that watching Tiger Woods putt on 3DTV will be as good as standing by the green, then those silly glasses might be worth it after all.


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