Not so much a lunchtime lecture as a link to a full on audio binge.
Piers Plowright is a radio legend. During his time as a BBC radio drama and feature maker from 1968 to 1997 he won the Prix Italia for radio documentaries three times as well as three Gold and two Silver Sony Awards and a Sony Special Award for Continual Dedication and Commitment to the Radio Industry. Since then he has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an honourary doctor at Bournemouth University and a ‘Radio Luminary’ at the prestigious Chicago Third Coast Radio Festival.
If anybody knows about great radio, Piers does. We are honoured and delighted to present his personal picks from the Radio 4 archive, all of which are available for you to listen to right now…
Such was the prescription from indie musicians Amanda Palmer and Damon Krukowski ’85 during an animated discussion about digital creativity Tuesday night at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.
Krukowski, who came to the Consumer Research Center/store to kick off the tour for his new book, “The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World,” used “noise” to describe the ambient sounds such as air conditioning or breathing that found their way onto analog audio recordings, but he was also speaking of life in the pre-digital world before social media giants’ content streams.
Krukowski, who was the founder and drummer for Galaxie 500 in the late ’80s, worked on the idea of analog versus digital as a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society in 2015-16. By eliminating noise, he argued, digital technology has isolated authentic sound, though he hoped the debate would not be seen as old versus new, or good versus bad.
But Palmer, a rock ’n’ roll performer who has cultivated an intimate relationship with fans on and off social media, wasted no time lamenting the loss. Instead, she commiserated with Krukowski over a shared displeasure with Facebook. She quoted from Krukowski’s book: “Social media have no content to offer other than what their users provide. Yet that information, too, is limited to isolated signal as defined by the platform — a neat trick.” Then she made her own supporting argument.
“I also hate Facebook, and I hate Facebook more and more every day,” she said, bemoaning the algorithms it uses to determine what is signal and what is noise for its 2 billion users.
“Noise is necessary. If we’re going to stay human, visual, audio, emotional noise, it’s what makes life. If you don’t have it, you don’t really even have the conditions for living. If things are signal only, that literally means there is no room for coincidence, synchronicity, kismet, randomness — the things that make life feel realistic,” she said.
We loved having Damon Krukowski on today’s show, but we only managed to touch on some of his research into how the shift to the digital world has shifted our perception of the world.
Thankfully, Damon’s Radiotopia podcast and book ‘Ways of Hearing’ where you can go on a proper deep dive. I love episode 5 in particular, it’s about ow digital corporations have created a musical universe that adapts to you no matter where you go in the world – but go on and binge the whole thing, with headphones, you know you want to.
Rosie Matheson’s Boys series is, in this humble digihuman research monkey’s opinion, bloody gorgeous. The light is beautiful, and somehow in each shot she captures something with simmering intensity and yet an overriding intimacy and sensitivity throughout the whole series. She has an incredible talent for getting touching the heart of her subject in each shot. Beautiful example of why film is still such a beautiful, vital medium.
We had Peirs Plowright on today’s show, and he is a legend to us in Radio land. Sadly, not much of his content in the archive has yet to be digitised (seriously, that needs to be done), but I did manage to find this gem for you lovely Digihuman fans. Enjoy some great radio storytelling done by a true master.
Wing Commander Allen speaks openly about how he feels the battle was managed. In this unedited interview for ‘A Fine Blue Day’, he has high praise for his fellow pilots and the ground staff (‘marvellous chaps’), but is less impressed by the top brass. He also paints a vivid portrait of daily life in the squadron and reveals how pilots spent their spare time, as well as giving details about handling oneself in a dogfight. The inflatable life jackets worn by pilots (as pictured above) were nicknamed ‘Mae Wests’ after the voluptuous American stage and film actress of that name. She was famous for portraying women of dubious virtue and quick wit, ‘I used to be Snow White, but I drifted’ being one noted example of her repartee.
Rosie Matheson is typical of the new wave of professionals who have embraced film. At the age of 22, the portrait and documentary photographer has worked for Adidas and Nike, and for Vice and i-D magazines.
“My parents had an old 35mm film camera lying around, and I picked it up around age of seven and started to use it,” she recalls. “I started shooting digital when I was a teenager but I never fell in love with it. The images looked compressed to me, [they] didn’t look authentic. The darkroom is for me almost therapeutic, going into your own world, listening to music, bringing these images to life.
Watching it all happen, a physical experience. We’re now in such an instant world, with iPhones, digital cameras. It’s good to have this slow process, ripping off the wrapper around the film, putting it in the camera.
Film photography focuses your mind but with digital, the brain tends to wander off when you’re still taking the pictures
“With digital, on a shoot you’ll have a team of anything from five to 30 people looking at your pictures on a screen, and then someone jumps in with their own point of view about your pictures, and directs you how to shoot. With film, it’s just about what you see through your viewfinder, and your subject. No one else is involved. That shows in the photographs: there’s more sense of feeling and atmosphere. People are intrigued by a slow process. It means more.”
It’s our 100th episode today (cue squeaky wee geeky squeal). So Digital Human flipped the script and we’re bringing you the Analogue Human! Edited and broadcast from TAPE!
With the help of artists, musicians and photographers Aleks asks if the endless possibilities we’re offered by digital tools are as liberating as we think or paradoxically are they paralysing, making it impossible to choose one product, picture, tindr date over another.
In this sneak pic, musician Damon Krukowski explains the difference between the clean, perfected sound of the digital world, compared to the organic noise in analogue world. And how in cutting out the messiness of noise, we may risk losing layers of complexity, beauty and meaning in the world.