Stepping Out of the Past

Stepping out of the Past
Robin Rimbaud – Scanner

Imagining the future can sometimes be a futile distraction. Where will you be in five, ten or twenty years? What will you be doing? How will technology have altered, enhanced, assisted, or even replaced some of the things that you do? Just twenty years ago we were experiencing our media on analogue television sets, FM radio, cassettes and Walkmans with bulky headphones. Computers bravely ran MIDI music files on very basic sequencers, and an early form of music sampler would generously offer 1 MB or perhaps one minute of sample time, commonly stored on a floppy disc. Mobile phones suggested a future of instant mobile communication but were the size of building bricks and absurdly expensive.

Fast-forward and it goes without saying that we are in a very different place today.
The notion of multimedia seems so commonplace but it’s still startlingly new and full of possibilities. Innovation in new technologies constantly opens up avenues towards almost unimaginable worlds. Opportunities and prospects are ripe for devouring and embracing. Barely a month passes when one item – television, compact recorder, MP3 player – is surpassed, in an on-going battle of seduction and desire.

Ideas have been liberated by software synthesis and process. Native Instruments have opened up accessible, dynamic, impossibly high quality music worlds with their Kontakt, Reaktor and Kore software. GForce have emulated classic synths of the golden age, where now the beloved Mellotron of the early 1970s is now available for less than a flight to Milan. Artists can collaborate globally without leaving home and share their portfolio with the world. ‘Photoshopping’ an image has entered general conversation, whilst Flash, HTML, CSS are terms known to some but experienced by many in new media productions.

Cinema and gaming industries have in particular embraced these developments to enable worlds of sound and image design that are dynamic, illusory and hyperreal. We swim in possibilities and that encourages and offers promises that we can’t even imagine at this moment. I for one long for the future, but ask for just a little more time to enjoy the present too.