DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy: a movie about empathy

I wanted to make a movie about Dermalians, an alien culture based on individuals' capacity for empathy with two castes: Artists and Librarians. Artists had higher levels of empathy and the Librarians had superior skill for organizing the data and artifacts gathered by Artist explorers in interplanetary anthroarchaeological expeditions. Artists' high levels of empathy enabled them to adopt the physiology & bodily form of alien species. Librarians' Dermalian form was reminiscent of cephalopods. I decided to learn animation in order to portray the Librarians, not to mention figure out how to create outer space in Final Cut Express. Three years later, surrounded by greenscreen in my 10' x 12' livingroom, I shot myself ambulating in low gravity on the Moon. One year later, I animated my first Dermalian. At the same time I was reading about the environment & becoming convinced that the reason we are killing the Earth is our perversely unnatural dissociation from it - i.e., "Nature" is over there & we are over here. We do not live in symbiosis with nature & we do not live empathetically with nature.

I liked my Dermalian "caste system"; but once empathy became not just a natural capacity but the core value of Dermalian culture & I had invented a Dermalian technology based on an organic, sentient substance, Plasma with which the Dermalians live in symbiosis & which the Dermalians protect with strict protocols & laws, it was completely against the morality of the Dermalians for them to have a caste system. Instead, empathy, like musical talent, is a capacity with which one is born. The highest level of empathy is 10. Below level 4 of empathy, a Dermalian is considered handicapped & is protected by as strict protocols & laws as is Plasma.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy: Aliens long after humans, who having discovered the ruins of the New York Public Library & becoming enamored of humans, establish the Ruins of the NYPL archaeological site & investigate why humans became extinct.

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