November 15, 2010
I am a nerd. Pure and simple. I make no apologies for being able to cite Star Wars, being able to spot physics mistakes in movies, and playing D&D on a weekly basis. I embrace technology. Whenever a new development makes it possible to do something once confined to science fiction films, I get a little tingle.
Except this time. I saw the following video and felt a creepy, cold, snake coil around my neck.
A singing hologram. Hundreds of audience members singing along. A hologram that makes it possible to have Roger Rabbit-like scenes in real life.
Did I mention that, despite the live band, this is a recording?
There’s a theory called the Technological Singularity. It states that the rate of technological progress has been steadily growing and, at one point, we will in fact create machines that can think and create faster than we can. At that point, humanity’s history will end. Progress will be out of our hands. In essence, we will cease to matter.
I saw that video and instantly thought of the Art Singularity.
Never heard of it? It’s a theory I have. The number of people who create art is increasing each year. This means more possibility for new types of art, new creations, and a greater opportunity for others to get their work out. However, it also means the art world is flooded with many people and works that are, quite frankly, copies of other works. I don’t have to tell you that most works that find mass appeal do so without actually having anything behind them. Twilight, boy bands, reality TV, most pop music, and others are nothing more than candy filler, carefully calculated to appeal to the lowest-common denominator.
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And maybe it’s me, but it seems like things are getting more and more artificial. Eventually, we will have “art” that is nothing but a machine creating beats and images designed to appeal to the masses.
It’s not that I don’t think popular music and movies and art were never calculated to some extent. As much as I want this to be a free expression of everything I want to say, I do edit these posts and make sure I say what I want to say as best as I can.
But I don’t do it to appease a demographic. I do it because I want it to sound good. I want to say and I create something that speaks to the reader and is appealing.
I saw that hologram singing, saw the crowd singing back and reacting… and it was a recording. She doesn’t exist. The talent belongs to a computer programmer who wrote the code, to an engineer who designed the holographic technology, and to a composer who wrote the music.
And we will likely never know their names.
I’m probably building a slippery slope here, but I think we don’t appreciate real artists, if we ever did within my lifetime. We focus on the end result, the bands and the flashy glitter on screen, and we don’t really appreciate the artists and designers who created the end product. Who can name a single writer in Hollywood? Who designed the graphics in the latest video game?
The Art Singularity is making art more and more artificial, more and more the result of mathematics than heart.
A few years ago, I met a writer who imagined a future where traditional art was eclipsed by “pop art” that required no talent and appealed to the attention-deficit audience of the day. Traditional artists protested by going to parks, street corners, and other public places and painting or drawing the most beautiful images they could create.
The artists then set these works of art on fire and used the ashes to make black paint they then used to recreate the original. Why? Because something made by a person has imperfections, bits of the artist’s personality, and is unique in that it will never be reproduced exactly. There will only be one. Ever.
Machines and pop art mass-produce these images and cheapen the process.
Look, I’m all for new technology and finding new and better ways of creating. I have nothing against using Photoshop or holograms or whatever else comes along. I’m just afraid that one day we’ll just have machines spit out whatever we want to see. Art isn’t just about showing us pretty things.
Art is about showing us the things we don’t want to see. It’s about seeing the artist and learning about ourselves in the process.
And now that we can expect the Robot Apocalypse to include the takeover of the art world, let’s get some links goign to soften the blow of our impending doom.
- To anyone who thinks that models need to be a size double-zero, please take a look at these models. They probably represent more women than the waifs on fashion magazines… but they look damn good. Ladies, take note. Thin, large, black, white, blonde, whatever. You’re beautiful.
- Ever wanted to eat some Koopa steaks? What about filet de Yoshi? Here’s a handy guide for your next 8-bit culinary adventure.
- Speaking of pop stars, Justin Beiber has a documentary on his life coming out. The kid can’t even buy beer and he has a documentary? Thankfully, some intrepid souls went and made their own parody trailer. Personally, I’d rather see the parody.
- Mila Kunis talks about her sex scene with Natalie Portman in the upcoming The Black Swan. You know, I like Kunis better since That 70′s Show ended. Her character got on my nerves.
- Households with lesbian parents have a surprising amount of child abuse… Zero. Take THAT, right wing!
- Europe does a lot of things better than the good ol’ USA. They have more interesting beer, for one. They also have commercials like this that manage to put a different spin on something as established as Star Trek.
- I’ve been using The Call of Cthulhu film in my ESL class because we can use the subtitles. The HP Lovecraft Historical Society is also working on a “talkie” adaptation of “The Whisperer in the Darkness.” Check out the trailer and see what you think.
- And finally… I want this movie to be good. I really do. The music is creepy, the visuals look good, and it’s got Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez. I. Want. It. To. Be. Good.