Some 15 years ago I’ve been to a party listening to Jeff MIlls DJing one of his infamous sets using what felt like 5 turntables at the same time. I – and I guess we all – didn’t really get it back then. We’ve been (as we are still today) stunned by his skills, and thought it as kind of a weird art performance and not of the first glimpse of something that soon – today – everybody will do.
Spinning 5 records at once of course is a weird performance of art, but it was more about it I could only understand today. No need to say that people like Jeff were ahead their time as artist, breaking up qualities of music we all took for granted, into fractals of itself and rearranging it instantly. Using a sample based approach to break the limits of recorded music, as the given material didn’t match his requirements any more. So he acquired skills and developed technical solutions to detour around this limits doing something new, creating new material for the moment. In other words, overcoming recorded music.
If you remember your history classes, you’ll recall that not long ago, bloody wars were being fought over slightly different translations or interpretations of the same text. I’m talking about the bible. Back then the content was sacred, and if you dared to alter it, you broke a sacred law that was the glue behind what was forming all societies. Changing the text was an act of revolution, even heretical and considered blasphemy.
In simple words – back then, best during the bourgeoisie until today – class, distinction, quality was measured by the ability to reproduce such canonical content.
In old-fashioned communication systems like the TV, you can still see relics of such behavior, when talents in casting shows try to prove their abilities by copying given material as perfect as possible.
New media went on.
A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to listen to Bill Drummond (yes, the guy who burnt a million quit – but he’s much more than that, one of my most favorite contemporary artists). Anyway, he stated, that any art form has it’s time, like pottery or stained glass windows or oil paintings. He called the twentieth century the age of recorded music, which is over now. Gone.
From this on he called the 21st century the age of processed information (such as music).
If you think of Wikipedia, unlike the Bible, no one would completely trust an article a single person wrote today. Swarm-thinking, co-thinking, clouds generate information we trust as it is processed and lectured by many.
Entertainment especially gaming has a similar evolution. Remember those old ego-shooters that were ego games in it’s very meaning, as the AI was the only competitor. Today no game is being sold without network gaming, no media consumption is happening without being embedded into a social sharing and communication system. The more participation the better.
Let’s call it co-authoring as the basis of modern quality and trust.
Now, how can anyone think that music, films and books will be different? I predict that those contents will become process-ablel matter again and only such matter will be accepted as quality content. Fans satisfied with simple consumption of pre-recorded material will be a thing of the past soon.