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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Andy Warhol and the future of Audio

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but much is happening around here at the moment. But for tonight, I think I’d like to focus on an idea I’ve been kicking around for some time.

As I write this, I’m watching part two of PBS’s documentary on Andy Warhol. Warhol’s genius was tied completely to a time and a context. His paintings, his films, his art need the 60’s to be understood and the 60’s can’t really be understood without the 50’s, and the 50’s without the 40’s and so on. This is how things have been forever. We move forward on a line, each decade or era informing the next. In this way, things – like radio drama – are lost. Next to television, radio looked old and silly. It was left behind. We look back and form opinions on the past, but our opinions are informed by the eras in which we live. In this way, in this way, things left behind truly appear to die.

But, does it need to be that way.

Without a timeline, in a context where everything exists on a plane together, audio can become art again, and not just what grandpa used to listen too. If the audience is free to select our art without prejudice, without a notion that this thing is not ours, just something we’re borrowing from the past, then we can be relevant. And that world is close.

Kids listen to The Beatles and Fat Boy Slim on the same iPod. Old Jimmy Stewart flicks and the latest blockbusters reside on the same NetFlix lists. And technologies are improving things too. No more scratched LPs, fading audio tape, movies that close never to been heard of again or TV shows that skip syndication. It’s all changing to granite. All of performing art is starting to resemble a bookstore with the ancient masters sharing shelf space with the latest bestsellers. This is a very good thing. It means the technologies and techniques we use are not dated, just different. Television did not replace our art, it simply evolved from it.

The sixties were all about tearing down. I wonder now if there is an age ahead of us that is about building up, about putting something back where there has been a hole for a time. There is no ‘Now’ in a world where art from all times can co-exist. This goes for audio, as well as anything. That is why we who tell stories just with sound should have hope.

One man’s thoughts at a late hour.

2 Comments:

Blogger Viator said...

I caught part of that documentary as well; very interesting.
Good to see you posting again, Jeff. I need to do the same . . . perhaps as a study break this evening. Papers, papers, papers.
It does indeed seem to be the dawn of a bright audeo era--and me without my iPod! Alas, someone decided to give my mini (a V-Day gift from this cute girl I see a lot) a new home two weeks ago. Along with my laptop . . . don't leave these things in your car, folks.
Sorry. Stories with morals are so tedious.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Henry Wiens said...

I appreciate your thoughts about the 60s being a time of tearing down and how we're seeing more & more art forms from past times co-existing in the now, as music from multiple decades, even centuries on the same i-pod. I agree conditions are changing so that audio art may be increasingly appreciated from a new perspective, free from the quaint connotations it has had as a mere forerunner of television. I also identify with your comments about community theatre, relative to seeing the Chevy guy as Tevia, etc.; also about needing an audience. Actually I joined the Mermaid audience tonite, my ice-box baptism -- Lutheran, not Baptist; immersion would overstate my exposure. Time for bed here, coffee next week?

10:29 PM  

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