Monday, May 7, 2012

What Can Be Dehumanized Will Be Dehumanized

I got an email from the Lyric Opera of Chicago today, promoting an upcoming performance by pianist Lang Lang.  Struck me as strange.  The overhead camera and screen on the stage seem designed to dehumanize the event.  Like if opera singers had cameras pointing down their throats so you could see their vocal chords moving.


An overhead camera and onstage screen will allow every audience member to witness Lang Lang's energy and grace at the piano.

All this lacks is a whispered commentary, slo-mo of Lang Lang's crazy fingers and instant replays.  Yet another example of the power of technology to dehumanize human experience.

6 comments:

quinn esq said...

I want a Bum-Cam. Seat placement is critical.

I need to see ALL the energy and grace.

Also, Smell-O-Vision.

Billy Glad said...

I swear, man, sometimes I think I'm going crazy. The world around me is turning into a completely virtual flux. The web and the blogosphere are bad enough, but when you go to a game or concert and end up watching the screens more than the live performance -- and now this -- I mean, doesn't it turn the performer into some kind of wind-up piano player? Deconstructed. Depersonalized. A bad montage where the sum of the parts is less than the whole. I just don't know.

Tom Manoff said...

In about 1962 I went to a movie in Times Square about China. It had what Quinn calls "smell-0-vision. Actual smells were injected into the theater.
I thought it was wonderful. I wondered why it never came back.

Who knows what the "smells" were. But I'm with quinn on smell.

Billy, I think also in that the virtual world works as long as you balance it with the real world.

I garden and practice. I've been working on my garden for 10 years.
I'm back to practicing the piano in significant hours as I did as a youth.

All of this balances out the web stuff.

And also, Billy, what is film if not

virtual life?

Is it more "real" or "organic" than video?

I think it is more real and organic. The dividing line is analog/video.

Analog is a continuum. Video is digital. Digital means cutting reality into small bits. That has an impact on the harmony of the body and soul.

Who wouldn't want real film over digital ?

Big screens help. Why ? The images have to move through the air --air by its natures acts as a disperser of sound and light. Thus the digital source is blurred into more of a reality...

Billy Glad said...

I suppose you're right. I don't want to be mean about it. I hope the people who go to the recital enjoy watching Lang's hands while they listen to him play. I guess I come down on the analog or continuous side. I know you're talking about something more basic, but at a cruder level I prefer deep focus and continuous shots in movies to montage. Funny that I should be complaining about seeing more. To me that's as bad -- or worse -- than seeing less. What about opera? Do they throw close-ups of the singers up on big screens now? Do they run a montage of the best moments during intermission? They might. They might be doing that while I'm out in the lobby drinking cheap Rioja.

GirlfromtheBronx said...

As with most things, I think the priorities behind the deed, the action, the development, ..... is what matters. This just wreaks of a PR stunt. But I don't doubt it will catch on.

There have been times when I have had a knee jerk response to technology getting in the way of the pure event.

I reacted with great negativity to the introduction of subtitles at the Opera. That was in 1983! I finally got over it. But my original objections remain intact. I even got my panties in a twist when NY Times switched over to using color. I'm not sure why that annoyed me so much, but there you have it.


Anyway, this kind of thing just seems vulgar and unnecessary. It brings attention to one aspect of the playing-- the finger dexterity. I doubt the average person watching a closeup of virtuosic fingers will be able to integrate the entire musical experience when they have been guided to focus on one part of it. That annoys me. I also wonder if all artists will have to sign a release to allow this or if they will have an option to reject.

Billy Glad said...

It's like putting a performer in a jar. But what the hell can you expect from a world where fans of Pavarotti can turn up for the Met opening of Turandot wearing sports coats and green and white checkered pants? And the worst part is everyone of those tacky dweebs knows more about Turandot and Pavarotti than I ever will.