Artistry and ritual

November 5th, 2015

Digital and interactive experiences can take away the artistry and mastery that takes years of experience. I'm thinking specifically of a Sigur Rós concert that was live streamed as 360 degree video so the user could rotate and be 'fully immersed' within the band on stage. I love the premise of this but also feel that it detracts from truly intimate shots like the drummer brushing the snare. Shots that take into account composition, story, pace.

Similarly digital music removes the ritual of going to a music store, flicking through hundreds of germ-ridden CDs looking for interesting covers or a label that you like's latest release. It's hit and miss but I discovered so much good music this way that I never would've considered otherwise. I fondly remember visiting Virgin Music and their discount (50p?) singles section. It was a cheap way for me to expand my collection. Picking up Cornershop's Sleep on the Left Side and then discovering via a remix Les Rhythmes Digitales; listening to the surreal Ducktoy by Hampenberg, Alfie, Mars Volta, Pendulum. There was always a great suspense as I'd unwrap it, put it in the CD player (a Sony something or other, a bit like this one) and see if I liked it or not. If I didn't, I persevered. The luxury of the iTunes Store now means that some albums and artists don't get a second chance if they don't grip me in the first 5 seconds and that's a terrible shame and something I need to rectify.

Amazon opening a physical store is testament to this. Some call it a giant billboard and there's definitely an element of that but it also honours the tactile ritual and self-discovery we crave. I'm all for the convenience and dissemination the web provides but equally lament the loss of so many record shops. Maybe it's mostly nostalgia.

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