Thursday 19 May 2022

'The sound of failure'

I've always tended to prefer blurry and grainy photographs (black and white or early colour) to glossy, full-colour high-definition images, to prefer obsolescent tech to the latest thing, lo-fi to hi-fi, the rough-around-the-edges to the smooth and highly finished. It's something I never really thought about, regarding it as a simple matter of taste, perhaps related to a general preference for things of the past over things of the present. But someone who has thought about it is the musician Brian Eno, and I was delighted to come across this quotation today. These are, I think, wise words, identifying something real and generally unacknowledged: 

 'Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.'

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