Monday, September 16, 2013

gecko, behind the Dali

I'm not trying to be surreal; this is just what happens when you live in the subtropics through a long sticky summer: things hide behind other things that shouldn't be there but they are. I have a lot of Dali posters scattered throughout my house. Absolutely none can match the thrill of seeing the original in person, but we try to reproduce life as we can – it's human nature.

Besides, in my neck of the woods it is possible to see some of Salvador Dali's 2-story tall paintings live. Now, art museum etiquette frowns on folks taking photos of masterpieces, but in our ubiquitous digital world, there's no longer any real vigilance against this practice. I saw plenty of iPhones snapping in the museum, trying in vain to capture the enormity, the textures, the details, but it can't happen. Even my reproductions barely scratch the surface - I sometimes wonder why I bother. There are art gallery websites, of course, that allow us to magnify each sector of the world's art output, but it's all still web resolution artifacts and device-dependent pixels. Maybe that's why the Dali doesn't truly police their no-photo law: they know nothing can replace the experience of eyes-on-canvas.

The live music world has long ago lost that battle as well; but I believe they now actively court an audience that comes armed with their tech, so the next day I can see the whole event replayed on YouTube. (Was that me in that crowd shot?) Seriously, sitting in the balcony at the Pet Shop Boys show, I beheld the sweaty swath of audience below me, hundreds of phone screens shining brightly at me, hundreds of phone screens instagramming, facebooking, probably YouTubing. In fact, while sitting in a mezzanine lounge before the concert, I gazed down at 2 couples at a table directly below me. All were animated in conversation, all were manhandling their phones, texting, swiping through photo galleries and who knows what else at the same time - and these were people my age, not tweens.

I had the thrill of attending two concerts in one weekend and my digital life allowed me to not only preview the set lists from previous tour stops, but also scope out fan photos of the swag booths. (which makes sense, because at the swag booths, there were more people snapping pix of the merchandise than standing in line to purchase.) And sure, the kid in front of me was pulling up the Depeche Mode setlist so he knew what was happening before it was happening, but I swear I saw him go to iTunes to search for which song being played was on what album and he might have even purchased it right then and there. Internet advertisers, take note: this is interactive marketing at its most immediate and sublime. 

As an aside, I also truly believe that very soon there will be a whole explosion in augmenting our appendages via plastic surgery. Right now there is no defense against "zombie thumbs" as devices get smaller. The only solution: shave off most of our thumbs in order to be more stylus-like. No matter, the kid at the concert thumb-typed at least 85+ wpm (although I hope he isn't using autocorrect, one of the true scourges of the digital world).

So, my only digital question left is: no one raises their lighters anymore in our nanny-state during ballads. Is there an app for that yet?