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How To Maintain Perspective in The Limitless Realm of Digital Recording
As we find ourselves moving fast along the digital highway, there has never been a more important time to cultivate a disciplined approach to our craft. While advances in technology are pivotal to the progress of science and industry, what part do they play in the working of art?
The post-war economic boom of the 1950s marked the beginnings of the on-demand culture we live in today. It brought about a new wave of consumer-oriented technologies designed to whet the insatiable appetite of the homo consumens. With industrial society geared toward mass production and consumption, no longer was technical progress measured by the refinement of technology, but the degree to which it was convenient, accessible, and enticing to the end user.▼ Article continues below ▼
The disposable nature of today’s technology is characterized by our preference for innovation over genuine improvement. While improvement generally takes the shape of a gradual and continual process (Kaizen), it is the dramatic and sudden nature of innovation, which makes it such a powerful marketing tool. For example, if the latest version of a popular technology omitted new features for the sake of refining the original concept, many would be disappointed. As a result we have seen corporations build obsolescence into their products to satisfy the neophilic desires of the modern consumer. Our newfound lust for novelty is the driving force behind innovation for innovation’s sake.
“Once the principal is accepted that something ought to be done because it is technically possible to do it, all other values are dethroned, and technological development becomes the foundation of ethics.” -Erich Fromm
With technology expanding at an exponential rate, little consideration is given to the ethical implications of a cybernated world. Over recent years we have witnessed the rise of the Internet, which revolutionized the way in which we experience information. But we may find ourselves sliding into a world which only exposes us to the information we ‘like.’ From our search results to our news feeds, complex algorithms are curating our online experience like never before.
Google’s search algorithm relies on over 200 signals from the user, including their location, browser history and user agent to generate their own personalized search results. Erich Schmidt from Google has stated that “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” While it makes for a more convenient way of browsing the web, it actually makes it more difficult to remain objective, be open to conflicting points of view and develop your own individual tastes. These algorithmic gatekeepers of information are luring us into a fool’s paradise: a personalized bubble of positive reinforcement and gratification.
As technology continues to bring us all closer together, we may be at risk of becoming over-connected. If we all share the same references and consume the same content, would a homogenized culture still be capable of producing the ‘great originals’ like Shakespeare, Milton and Homer? American Writer and Jazz Journalist Ted Panken believes that “Individuality is harder to come by” among today’s musicians due to the increased accessibility of information. Could it be that through the act of disconnecting from the noise of society we are in turn reconnecting with ourselves?
“Progress and art don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that art is getting better, just because technology is getting better.” –Ed Fries
For the modern-day performer, the digital revolution has liberated them from the shackles of traditional methodologies and convention. It has given them the freedom to express their boundless creativity without the need to adhere to the limitations inherent in primitive technologies. But where there are constraints, there is creativity. After having conducted extensive research into the relationship between freedom and creativity, British psychologist and author Philip Johnson-Laird concluded that “What is not constrained is not creative.”
If we consider that the last 30 years of music technology have been about the removing of constraints, are we really making progress? Once we understand that convenience often comes at the expense of integrity, we can begin to be selective about what we let into our world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renato Repetto is the owner of Winston Tones – Analogue Productions based in Australia. Winston Tones offer music production services with a workflow designed to retain the integrity of the artist’s performance. He has toured nationally with award-winning productions as both a drummer and guitarist. Outside the studio he enjoys film photography and performing his own compositions live. For more information, visit www.winstontones.com.