Few things are simple anymore. Few things celebrate the details. The “big picture” seems to have overtaken the attitude of society, even in the arts. I am primarily a musician so it is easy for me to recognize this in music. There is a certain fixation on perfection in the music industry right now. Have you heard any of the most recent pop songs? Well, the truth is, this fixation has snuck into all kinds of genres. The indy-rock scene, which likes to pride itself in its “organic qualities” has totally bought into the idea of studio sterilization. You walk into an isolated box, sing into a $2000 microphone, hear the feedback of your voice, not from the natural sound your voice is procuring, but with the processed, real time feedback of a highly complex DAW. This is far from a natural environment for sound. Think of the difference in experience from singing in a 4×4 box with padded walls to the experience of singing in a hallway with tall ceilings. Your tuning may not be perfected by your mac, but the artifacts in the sound created by the sound waves passing through dust, large amounts of air, bouncing off all kinds of surfaces, windows, columns, chairs, and returning to you, reverberating and echoing in its natural habitat… that experience is irreplaceable.
Now, I understand the point in perfecting. As a matter of fact, high amounts of editing in protools, photoshop, illustrator… these really are all about attention to detail. I find that this practice has raised our degree of excellence and certainly pushed the art forms forward. I just wonder if we are losing an appreciation for the flaws. For the impurities.
I often find joy in seeing someone post work where I can see their confidence portrayed. If an incredible photographer posts an incredible photo where i can see a couple specks of dust, it makes the photo that much more special to me.
What about purposefully abusing flaws? I think of progressive music that uses dissonance to lead to resolution and create dramatic effect. What about photographers purposefully causing light leaks? Cooks purposefully charring dishes? Architects creating protrusions?
The flaws are often details to be celebrated, not erased. Think of your favorite live album. Sure, there are some touch ups, but i can think of plenty of examples of live versions of tracks that include a mistake or a pitchy note that I much prefer to their studio counterpart. The emotion produced in a real environment can be felt through the speakers.
Impurities are beautiful and bring us back to reality. So maybe think about posting that photo that has some unintentional light leaks. Maybe don’t be afraid to share that cover you recorded in your room where you get off tempo. Sometimes those moments are the sweetest ones!