This place matters

This place matters

Saturday, August 6, 2016

You just turn the crank and snap the plank

The Swedish band Wintergatan specializes in creating musical instruments more impractical than you ever thought possible, and they are breathtaking.

Like, just why would you do that? Who even thinks of that? More to the point, who thinks of that and then thinks "Yeah, this is a thing that could clearly exist in real life; where can I buy ten million ball bearings?"
There's also this:
This one in particularly made me think of the book Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, and how it both did and did not predict the future. Okay, so I don't remember the book all that well. I was living on the road when I read it, and it's possible I read more in the two years I spent on the road than in the rest of my life combined. But I do remember that it expressed Vonnegut's fear that technology would gradually replace human ingenuity, that artists and creators would be crowded out by contraptions and distractions and we'd all be the dumber and the duller for it. 

And he was right; we waste so much of our lives staring at little glowing screens that it's kind of tragic. But yet universal access to these gadgets allows folks like Wintergatan to share their absurdly unnecessary contraptions with the world and possibly make enough money from YouTube ads to cover at least some of their ball bearing expenses.
And yet it's absurdly hard for a truly talented musician to make a living at it, and pirating, underpaying streaming services, and an extremely saturated market are making it so much worse. And as cool as it is that these guys make crazy money doing this:

it's not entirely fair that they're achieving great success while orchestras languish. 
But then, it's not entirely fair that Britney Spears is a gazzillionaire while most of us have never even heard of RenĂ©e Fleming (myself included, I just Googled "greatest opera singers alive"); and that's not the Internet's fault. It has kind of always been that way, hasn't it? It's weird though.

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