The big humming & no-where
There was a time when we all were DJs. It was the era of jukebox.
When inserting a coin and pushing two buttons you could arouse the atmosphere.
I still remember some pairs of keys:
“H7” “Red house”, Jimmy Hendrix.
“D5” “With little help of my friend”, Joe Cocker.
“B2” “Sunshine of your love”, Eric Clapton.
Between the trucks, through the transparent glass, you could still have a look at the movement of the mechanic turntable arm extracting the 45 disc turning from the big rotating gear. It was one of our last gazes to the mechanical world made by levers and gears before the digital would have brought us back the flat world.
If the jukebox was one of the last mechanical robot playing analogic music, the first robot that started to play with the images has been the camera.
Both of them belong to a mechanical world where things have an interior and an exterior side. They start through buttons and clicks, letting the visible and the invisible work together. Both of them have bodies. They are pure “res extensa”, borrowing the term from René Decartes, father of universal mechanism.
With the advent of the digital era Decartes retired and the mechanical world with him, flatting the shapes of the bodies, modifying our perception of sounds and images and, at least, our way to produce them.
Somebody is naively suggesting to interpret the outbreak of digital images as the revival of painting over photography, a kind of revenge using pixel instead of oil colors. That would be like to say that producing sounds with a PC keyboard is like to play a piano!
Looking closer - or perhaps looking faraway - it seems most probably that both, sounds and images, are engaged in a new lascivious adventure they cannot resist to undertake: being part of the infinite and unique flow of images, being part of the unique humming of the universe.
Well, if images will decide to live the rest of their life in such a flow and the sounds to merge altogether in that universal humming, we just have to deal with it. All the more so because of the latest discoveries of the quantum mechanics identify the reality much more with the probability of the things than with their being.
Despite the quantum mechanics, separate entities are still part of our daily life. Going to buy eggs we still choose between six or a dozen, we look ourselves in the mirror before going out and when in the car it happens we sing our favorite song. As last analysis (or psychoanalysis if you like) our life is still more intertwined with the old human myths than quantum mechanics and, at the end of images and sounds, we still find the myths of Narcissus and Echo.
Could we imagine Narcissus losing his fatal attraction by his own image at the bottom of the river? Could we imagine him sitting at the bank of the river loosing himself in the probability of each single instant reflection floated down by the current? It would be like to think it is realistic not to look at our image when we are alone in front of a mirror.
And thinking about sounds, could we imagine Echo who finally succeeds to declare her love to Narcissus?
Or the mountains ceasing giving back the echo of our words?
Although Walter Benjamin warned us by highlighting that our perception has a history it seems we do not have new myths to replace the old ones.
Our challenge today is how to get fit to recognize the changes of time. I would not say to oppose or endorse them, but rather to recognize them in order to be able to defend our oddments of freedom. Leaving the images and sounds free to splash into the universal humming or, alternatively, to stay right next to the door, guarding their possibility to exist and our right to breathe with them.