The Table Sessions

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The Table Sessions is a collaborative workshop where like-minded designers and thinkers can disassemble, examine and reconstruct the things and ideas that ignite our interest.

Episode 11: 2001 Character Map

And though he could not remember it, when he was very young Moon-Watcher would sometimes reach out and try to touch that ghostly face rising above the hills. He had never succeeded, and now he was old enough to understand why. For first, of course, he must find a high enough tree to climb
— 2001: A Space Odyssey

Clocking in at nearly three hours, 2001: A Space Odyssey is an emotional marathon. A marathon well-worth the journey.

Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke developed the screenplay in tandem to produce the beloved film (and novel!) in 1968, which explores the past, present and potential future of human existence. Humanity, as we deduce in our conversation, is the main “character” of the film. In a story so purposefully structured, with a cast of actors that come and go throughout, the characters themselves contribute to the larger collective story of humanity.

Rob Kuentzel, is a “2001 is my favorite movie” kind of guy. So naturally, we sat down with Rob to discuss how Clarke & Kubrick teamed up to craft a masterful story.

A cultural product developed in written and cinematic form - especially one as epic as 2001 - sparked debate about how content is altered depending on the the intended media form and audience. Moon-Watcher, the main the ape at the beginning of the film, is only given a name in the novel. Does this simple tweak effect how the entire first sequence is perceived? We ask questions like this in an attempt to understand the tricky art of storytelling.

The diagram above is an investigative infographic which maps the character mentions throughout each page of the 2001 novel. A technique used to calculate character density in certain parts of the story in order to uncover the story arc. Where are the points of primary tension and climax? Are there primary and secondary characters that anchor certain parts of the story? Who is more “robotic": HAL or Dave? We think it might be Dave.