PressPausePlay documentary

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent of people in an unprecedented way, unleashing unlimited creative opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art, film, music and literature or is true talent instead flooded and drowned in the vast digital ocean of mass culture? Is it cultural democracy or mediocrity? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

A must see!

Comments

  1. I’ve watched performing music transformed from being a path out of poverty for the exceptionally gifted in the 1960s to an upper middle class avocation where the exceptionally gifted can no longer earn a living from performing.

    “Democratization” may be the biggest lie of the past 50 years because all that came down in price were the production crutches while the cost of exposure and creating a base of supporters went right through the roof.

    • Bob Olhsson, it would appear you believe the term “exceptionally gifted” is analogous to the term “commercially viable” (at least when referring to the 1960’s). Do you mean to say that back in the 1960’s, we could assume that any performer who somehow remained in poverty was not gifted? And gifted according to whom? Those few people who had the money and power to elevate a performer from obscurity through recording contracts and radio play? Please. Oftentimes the truly gifted are so far ahead of everyone else that they cannot be appreciated in their own time and so they remain in obscurity, unable to “earn a living”. This is neither an uncommon nor a new phenomenon.

      • Exceptionally gifted has never meant commercially viable however I would argue that commercially viable included a great many more of the exceptionally gifted back in the 1960s.

        • Perhaps, but we will never truly know how many exceptional talents actually fell through the cracks. As an example, had Dylan never relocated to a major cultural center like New York would he have ever been discovered by the world at large? How many potential greats were lost to obscurity due to cultural, political, geographical or economic isolation or exile?

          Conversely, today there is potential for a talent like Dylan to stay in his bedroom in the middle of nowhere, do some recording with cheap gear, release it on the internet and make an impact while completely bypassing the music industry machine that was necessary to reach the world in the 1960’s.

          At the very least it can be argued that the democratization of the digital age IS valuable given that otherwise nobodies like me would never be allowed a voice (fwiw) in conversations like this. 😉

          • I was a big believer in that potential back in the early ’70s when inexpensive multi track tape equipment became far more affordable. 40 years later I really have to ask “where’s the beef?”

            Every few years another previously un-affordable hardware or software production crutch has become available with each manufacturer or developer claiming their new gizmo will “level the playing field” and “opens the floodgates of creativity.” If this were true, we ought to be in such a musical renaissance that we’d only be talking about music and not technology.

            I feel that people are just being sold dreams by hustlers. The real musical action is eyeball to eyeball connecting emotionally with living, breathing listeners in the room. That experience is where performers blossom.

            Now you are absolutely right about the communications revolution. Somebody gifted IS going to figure out how to connect their music with people. I think it will most likely happen with live streaming. This is because live performance has a huge contextual advantage over recorded performance. One of the biggest things we’ve lost in popular music is timeliness, the gap between the present and when music is composed or performed. Live streaming audio can close that gap.

            • People only seek things on the Web AFTER emotional connection has been established. In the music realm, it takes more than one listening experience most of the times. Consumers play the passive role. There’s flood of information, celebrity hype and little Education.

              Technology’s democracy has more pros than cons. However, it also gives us a more accurate evaluation of people’s lack of solid Education. The technical aspects are better, no doubt, but content is going down hill.

            • Bob I completely agree with you that technology does not make a bad artist good nor a good artist great. There is simply only so much talent to go around and in that respect nothing has really changed for thousands of years.

              But the flood of mediocrity aside, I stand by digital technology for its ability to assist the true artist who has limited resources to make music that sounds far better than what he or she would have been capable of making and sharing 20 or 30 years ago without doing business with the “mucky-mucks” of the industry.

              True, the world is jam-packed with garbage but my goodness how much good independent stuff is also out there if you have the patience and open mind to dig through all the clutter. Please do look around because you may be surprised to find the next Stevie Wonder, Elton John or Bruce Springsteen lurking in their bedroom or college dorm, connecting with potential new fans via myspace, Soundcloud or facebook.

              Speaking of Springsteen and your question “where’s the beef?” in regards to home recording equipment, you may recall The Boss’s great 1982 Nebraska album was recorded entirely on a Tascam Portastudio, and Ween also made their early records on one.

              • Springsteen is the perfect example of an artist who developed a significant live following BEFORE he ever recorded. Motown in Detroit where I started my career was a home studio.

                My point is that easy access to recording technology has not resulted in more high quality artists. In fact from what I’ve seen it may have even resulted in fewer thanks to inept early recording experiences destroying people’s confidence. The beginning artist is who needs a professional recording experience the most.

              • Hello!

                I invite all you guys to my brand new WorldWide Music Revolution blog:

                http://worldwidemusicrevolution.blogspot.com/

                Let’s make it happen!

  2. I haven’t watched the movie, yet. But I do have a very strong opinion on this matter. This philosophy of mine is called Bad Inertial Heritage(BIH). Basically, technology has overwhelmed creativity in the past 30 years. There was a period of balance, arguably during the 80’s, but then, greed misused technology. This morphed art into mass culture “on demand”. The issue lies in the background(education) of those who create. Reference gets lost in this massive sea of information today.

    • I’d like to point out one important collateral effect of our ongoing technology revolution: people wish to accumulate skills, not depth, due to BIH and celebrity hype. This applies to almost everything. Like the musician who is also the composer and audio engineer, the journalist that is also the man with the camera and photoshop master. This is the opposite of Nature promoting diversity in a way… We need to put the right people in the right places again, if we wish to evolve and get art/mass culture back on track instead of daily meaningless flooding trash.

      • PS.: the flood of information makes the world cultural segmentation inevitable and contributes directly to BIH, as new generations get less exposed to diversity. We are living the “tip-of-the-iceberg” era… things tend to get worse.

      • I disagree with your statement “the musician who is also the composer and audio engineer, the journalist that is also the man with the camera and photoshop master….This is the opposite of Nature promoting diversity in a way”.

        Human specialization and the division of labor is a VERY new idea (only the past few thousand years) when compared to our far longer history on this planet. True, specialization has enabled an unprecedented amount and speed of growth and accumulation of wealth and knowledge (at least for some), but given the mess the world is in right now and how specialization and the division of labor has enabled a very small number of people to accumulate most of the power and resources, the jury is still out that specializing was the right direction to go. It could very well be our “evolutionary dead-end”.

        So I would argue that given our species history and the long success of tribal peoples who were far less specialized in their ways of life, that being a specialist is actually the opposite of nature. And hey, would we have the benefit of renaissance men’s works like DaVinci had they focused on only one area?

        • Hello, Vilhelm! Thanks for your comments. I believe there’s no useful distinction from software to hardware when approaching this subject, this is a point I have not made clear and I apologize for that.

          Thoughts, arms, behaviours, toes, philosophy, planets and art are not one thing but they’ re pieces of Nature, manifestations of energy at different levels and organization.

          So if a tribe prevails while the rest of Civilization perishes, it means the tribe found more efficient ways to keep going. This could be by applying team work whenever necessary and yet leave room for individual growth. It would be a tribe based on wisdom.

          It’s something like combining Lammarck, Ford, Darwin and Nash to both fields Biology and Philosophy.

          Thanks again,

          Leo

  3. Thanks for posting this. It was a real relief to watch a film that tries to make some sense of the overwhelming power of the new sound/image creation and delivery technology that we have at our fingertips.

  4. It is just temporary. This explosion in content and artists. Now that the means of production are accessible and easy everyone is trying them and experimenting with them. After a while people will calm down and only few people will continue producing music, design, films and whatnot. Plus in this economy of abundance that we live in our attention is scarce and at the end of the day consumption of art is not something that will bring food on your table. Sure as a hobby its great but to really make a living out of something which you really enjoy (and especially art) is very hard. It needs dedication, full attention and you have to have something worthwhile and compelling to say. Most of todays content is really fun and entertaining. However it is rare to find something with which you fall in love and makes a significant enough of impact on you for you to remember it perhaps even for the rest of your life.
    We’ll see where this will go. There certainly is no shortage in entertainment now.

    • It’s temporary, I agree, but its not our lifetime temporary, unless we turn into cyborgs real soon.

      People only seek things on the Web AFTER emotional connection has been established. In the music realm, it takes more than one listening experience most of the times. Consumers play the passive role. There’s flood of information, celebrity hype and little Education.

      Technology’s democracy has more pros than cons. However, it also gives us a more accurate evaluation of people’s lack of solid Education. The technical aspects are better, no doubt, but content is going down hill.

    • Except it’s been 40 years and there’s no sign of it getting better!

      I think a lot of the problem has been too much emphasis on recording. Yes, that’s how most of us first encounter an artist however the greats virtually always turn out to have had quite a live following before they ever recorded. I worked for ten years at a label specializing in experimental ambient and electronic music. When I checked out the artists’ stories, even in this genre it was the folks who had first performed it live who had albums that broke even financially and did not need day jobs, at least before Napster killed all “art music” dead financially.

      • The new heavy metal sub-genre “Djent” proves that an initial focus on recording can still lead to a live following, and that despite Napster’s negative effect on art music (I think Djent qualifies), there are ways to make a go of as a serious musician and artist. Read this article about how Djent started out as a genre for home recording geeks and is turning into a movement: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/mar/03/djent-metal-geeks

  5. Thanks for pointing to this documentary. Takes some time to digest..

    One thing I find to be historically evident: technological advances have always been embraced in art and it’s distribution, no matter what. I can not imagine that this will change in the future.

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