Love, according to who you listen to, is an invention of nineteenth-century romantics, a clever ploy by 1950s ad men or simply a trick biology plays on us. Yet we generally continue to think of love as a force for good: it's something which, at its worst, leads to the occasional mood swing, swoon or long sigh. At its best love is boundless, unconditional and uninhibited. 'Blink' challenges these ideas and presents a half-made up, compromised and distorted version of love for the modern age. This is a love formed out of the urban isolation and technology.
The innocent and blandly dressed pair of Sophie (Rosie Wyatt) and Johan (Harry McEntire) seem destined to produce a quirky but ultimately conventional romantic comedy. Yet after her father's death, Sophie soon finds her life has become directionless and tied to the past. She begins to feel she is fading out of view and into obscurity. Jonah, who has moved in downstairs, has his routine, but it's a routine which ultimately plasters over an emotional void in his life. Sophie, in one mad cry for attention sends the receiving end of a baby monitor camera to her new neighbour. She stands nervously in front of a camera, and takes a bite out of an apple, trying to appear normal in front of her new voyeur.
It's hard to pin down whether Phil Porter intends this is as a dystopian flight or a social commentary on modern London. The idea sits uneasily and feels awkward and unlikely, more dystopia than reality. The characters also feel like they occasionally become little more than literary devices to illustrate clever points. Yet 'Blink' is based (however loosely) on a true story. Indeed the odd thing about it is just how normal most of this already is. The digital masses are perhaps expressing a symptom of a wider malaise when they post constant updates related to their inner-most thoughts, recent meals or relationships. Certainly 'Blink' is detached enough from the normality of Facebook, but the ideas expressed behind it should resonate with most of us.
Central to the problem 'Blink' highlights is the intangible nature of 'digital'. Ultimately, as Deyan Sudjic, the Director of the Design Museum, pointed out in the Times this week, we are human and are innately attached to 'stuff'. We, like Jonah, like to smell, go places, and see things. It is naïve to think we can simply use cold logic to rationalise away things like face-to-face relationships or 'real-world' experiences. Sudjic perceptively noted the fundamental human need for 'physical, tangible memories'.
Indeed 'Blink' highlights the ultimately fake and shallow nature of viewing a life through a screen, or attempting to interact with someone at a distance. There is a danger that the real thing turns out to be less than expected, as fantasies and projections used to fill out gaps in the story turn out to be misplaced or unfounded.