Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art of Tool Making, Art of Art making

It used to be in the old times, tool makers made tools such as instruments; violin builders were not violinists although surely there were able to play the instrument; they were not artists USING their tools.

Today, especially with computer technology, computer programmers and engineers, many of them are also musicians or at least, composers.  They create their tools to invent their own musical tools, thus of course they would make music using their tools.   In the particular circle of interactive computer technology and electronic music, the tool and the field itself has been somewhat confined to those who can operate them; it is changing rapidly and those of us without the computer science background, can now relatively easily access the latest technology to create music.   It hasn't become as easy as someone sliding in front the piano and start creating masterpieces, but still, it's coming.

The peculiarity of today's tool-driven music making, is that there isn't much time for the tool and the users to mature, tested, evolve etc.  Of course they do, a lot smaller in scale compared to the history of pianos or violins.  And that is OK.  The tool makers have to keep creating tools, for money or getting their "inventions" published for tenure, etc.  Computer operating systems gets upgrade, software companies need to keep churning out new functions and versions.  So there are user groups, forums etc. to keep up with them.  This is simply the fact of economy-driven art today.

Of course the argument "for" these new form of art is that we are creating a new ways of human expression.   We are giving ourselves the new dimension in creating art.   We are not replacing the past, we are continuing the tradition of art making and expanding it.  With the new version and software, comes the new art.  And that's all valid.  

My question is, are the tool makers making as excellent "art makers"? Do the computer-programming "tool makers" who make art, making as good art as an excellent Jazz performer from the streets of New Orleans because of these sophisticated tools?

This isn't very comfortable, but it is a question that has to be asked.  As a friend recently said, the "time" might take care of it---what seems hip and new today, might very well be forgotten in 10 years and those with true lasting power would survive to the next generation.  There are street musicians in New Orleans today, but OS9 is dead   :)

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