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-five 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, streaming technology – is surpassed, in an on-going battle of seduction and desire. At the time of writing the previously unknown NFT’s are tearing up the media-sphere, and people battling to understand this at speed.
Ideas continue to be liberated by software synthesis, process and innovation. In music, companies have emulated classic synths of the golden age, so for example the beloved Mellotron of the early 1970s is now available for less than a bargain flight to Milan, and an entire music studio can run on an iPad for less than the price of a fancy dinner. Artists can collaborate globally without leaving home and share their portfolio with the world. In our strangely pandemic times distance has been erased by nature of such technologies, and intimacy returning on screen if not in person.
I sometimes look at language, images and words, and how it measure our times in such detail. Looking back at a movie from the early 1990s exploring ‘cyber technology’ can already feel rather dated and a little clunky. An over abundance of leather, sunglasses worn indoors and rusty nu-metal soundtracks doesn’t necessarily suggest a ‘future’ to many of us today, but at the time perhaps it did. If you had searched for the hashtag on the dark web and opted in to the landing page, and then retweeted the bounce rate of your affiliate marketing avatar, what will that even mean in another ten years time?
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.