Thursday, October 14, 2010

Upholstering reality

I admit it – I want my life conducted with the added enhancement deployed for Alan of the Apprentice. Stirring violins (when my mind’s eye pans across skyscrapers of commerce), swooshes when I enter a room, ‘dramatic’ downbeat variants of Clubbed to Death when I stop to think as the kettle brews. Can someone do a YouTube of their life improved immeasurably with such sonic uplifts? For the producers of the programme, it’s a clever and necessary layer because the ‘reality’ is a hirer and firer with a variable business record and businessmen and apprentices who can only speak in clichés and only have their obscene levels of self-confidence to go by (love to know where they get this sense of self-entitlement). Just as those sharp suits, flash cars and ‘scrapers and next-level phones seem to serve as proxy – I am in this world, yes Lord Alan I can do business.

So I need to beef up the dominant and all too-humdrum reality of offices, computers, childcare, more computers, train station after station. Where once it was considered that going out was the key as it took you away from the quotidian, such escape is no longer the thing because it doesn’t offer any insight, it’s just greedy impressionistic and intoxicated inflow with no reciprocation for the majority. By all means go out and hedonise but don’t think you’re subverting culture by ‘getting smashed’, 'trashed', 'mashed', 'lashed', certainly while the next Big Bang in traditional popular youth culture seems aeons away.

Not that then, but this. We want to stay plugged in, and continuously improve our virtual environment. It might seem sad that the closed loop of email no longer seems to suffice but it’s not just about vanity, about bigging up one’s own bon mots and axiomatic inquiry. In the infinite world it can seem so much blah-blah-blah but it isn’t. Old terms of surface and depth no longer apply when it’s about flows, networks, webs of contact disseminating information. Twitter users have tweeted that all this twatting is destroying the internal monologue, but it’s more like a hijack of the internal monologue, subjecting every thought now to whether it’s going ‘to play’ with your customised but diverse microtwit crowd. And it’s clear we do need to step away from the virtual reality pod occasionally (notice how businesspeople quizzed will say they never turn their Blackberry off!).

However, within that framework it’s clear Twitter has some uses of validating and optimising computer time that may otherwise be spent mindlessly surfing; links come to you by recommendation, by your own engineered crowdsourcing. Many users flirt between messages of sheer whimsy (today, mine would be saying I locked myself out) and the dispatch of news, comment or analysis, building up their worldwebview but without the static qualities of something like Delicious, which really was a case of ‘hey, look at my sexy links’ (and another ill advised Yahoo acquisition). No symbiosis. In the new world, some play it like that, accumulating as many followers as they can without doing any following, and simply sending out ‘look at my work’ tweets when one of their pieces for their paper/magazine goes up. These are also the people that will only engage with other ‘approved’ writers, and then only on suitably worthy subjects, in a last desperate attempt to keep the isolated Ivory Towers pure. The dinosaurs, for whom Marr voiced their failed grasp of modernity last week, need not concern us here.

Superficially I’m fine with this development of the virtual milieu. In music for example I’ve always thought ‘like a DJ’ despite never having the depth of knowledge or the single-mindedness to be one. I’ve always validated each song I record/buy/download/archive in terms of its possible audience, usually imaginary; every record has to be justified in terms of possible reception. Not songs for myself, but songs for the invisible them, alterior worth. What others might think about a track seems almost as important as what I like about it – the validation process serves as a bulwark against indulgence, refines taste and if you like something you want to present a convincing argument to others about it. I’ve got into the habit of doing proper mixes now, with themes, broad appeal and a hopeful wow factor (ok, perhaps not to aching hipsters who know all the vanguard tunes and the latest sonic tricks). Nothing particularly new in this as it relates to music (sharing mixtapes was the key way earlier as unlike merely swapping records it required mediation and re-presentation), but the web allows an intensification, optimisation and – don’t puke, indie freaks – a professionalisation of the process. The stuff must play, it must ‘fly’ and it must be able to bolster reality. [the new mix will be ready next month and I may put it online].

Leaving aside validation to focus on virtual stimulation, these kind of thoughts have led me come round to the worth of computer games. Where I used to view them as sad substitutes for imagination, now I see them as drivers of imagination. When one’s active visual world depletes to office-children-laptop you need to invigorate the senses to fire the brain up, and neuroscientists will probably agree with me. Just as it is with Alan and His Extra Sugar so it is with game players sharing and inhabiting different worlds.

Terms like geek and nerd as they relate to current computer usage are now redundant. Let’s hear it for building up the virtual world, mediating over content and bolstering reality, with caveats of course: the wry, misunderstood take on life by the stoned loner confident in the impervious supremacy of his worldview still won’t connect. But as long as evaluation and perception still play as much a part as validation this kind of bastard projection is increasingly necessary as long as you feed back into the loop, as long as you reciprocate. Invent the milieu, interrupt the flow, hyperstimulate.
<%=MakeComment("1095252628293244654","Sonic Truth:Upholstering reality","")%>


Post a Comment

<< Home

Clicky Web Analytics