This morning on the drive in to work, I listened to the most recent Radiolab podcast, which was a brief overview of the band Dawn of Midi. Their music began with these sort of unstructured improvisation sessions and grew into something completely different because the members of the band were listening to different kinds of music from all over the world. That music seeped in to their work and their music evolved because of it (research!). I was completely fascinated by their music before they got to the best part of the piece:
"I think that something is going on in the world right now, the last 10-15 years, you see it in a lot of fields right now...people doing things "in an analog way" that, ten years ago, would have been assumed absolutely impossible without the aid of technology. You see it from big wave surfers who found out they could ride huge waves if they have jet skis to pull them into these waves, and now they're saying "hey wait a minute, we could catch these with our arms again." But the jet ski needed to be there to show them that this was even possible. And you see it with this French beat boxer video online...he's doing something that just sounds impossible...the kind of stuff that Aphex was programming in its music, but this guy's doing it with his mouth. And it's like, the computers showed us a world of possibility, and now we're sort of realizing that world was inherent to us, not the machines."
That (probably badly transcribed) quote was from Aakaash Israni, bassist for Dawn of Midi.
I joke a lot about doing things in an analog way, whether that's in creating art or insisting on reading actual paper books and not electronic devices or continuing to balance my checkbook manually. Travis is insanely digital in the way he does things - everything he does appears to be handled online in a streamlined way, often in a way I didn't know existed. And despite my interest in digital technology and new media I find myself frequently drawn to the aspects and uses that are more "analog" in either nature or aesthetic. And I LOVE the idea that we could only fully come to appreciate some of the "analog" ways of doing things BECAUSE of the ways that digital technology, machines, computers, etc have helped us find new ways of doing those things. That, because of technology, we now know of ways to approach problems or create art that we can now look at solving or creating without that technology. I love seeing things like overhead projectors or handmade animation or puppetry used in theatrical productions because of this. We have the technology and ability to do that all digitally now (well, maybe not always the financial resources) and yet we turn around and do it manually, and in doing so create a different aesthetic. And it really becomes about which aesthetic best supports the work at hand, and not about simply using the newest technology because we can. It's about what that technology can teach us, and how our work evolves because of it, whether we end up using it or not.
Recently Travis, Will, and I took an impromptu road trip to Houston to check out the Turrell retrospective at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (I'm sure I'll write about that at some point). After seeing the Turrell works, we found ourselves in the basement of the museum where there was a photographic exhibit showing ways artists manipulated photographs before the advent of Photoshop. I loved seeing these works that might be "easily" created using software today but which were created by manipulating negatives or using other manual techniques. It really made me curious about what I might be working on right now using the Adobe Creative Suite and how I might be able to accomplish the same things without Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects.