Theater – The Eternal Analog Medium

I remember when I was a little boy in the last century, there was a generalized panic that the machines would take people’s jobs. The big car manufacturers were installing new machines that would do the work of the equivalent of ten people for a fraction of the cost.

In a time when economic models were a reason for war, the idea of machines replacing people was a symbol of everything that was wrong with the world. A few years later those machines became computers and people started to accept them because who wants to spend 30 minutes in a bank line if I can get to an ATM? People’s jobs became “necessary” colateral damage and being a human being that could act as efficiently as a machine became cool.

“Analog” became a bad word and everything was now digital. That meant I didn’t have to deal with worn k7 tapes or scratched records anymore. Every time I play my CD it’ll be like the first time. The TV would always have the same image quality – it doesn’t matter if it’s raining outside. The fact that things would consistently deliver the same results over and over without any loss of quality over time was a revolution. Every nail in every factory line would be hammered in the exact same way. Human failure was out of the equation. Even today, many professions still want to achieve this kind of “perfection.” People still think it’s a good idea to act like a machine and to give their job to them.

ASIMO, above, will never replace theater actors. (Photo: Vanillase via WikiMedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.)

ASIMO, above, will never replace theater actors. (Photo: Vanillase via WikiMedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.)

But a few years later people started to notice that some records sounded better than their CD counterparts. They had more frequency range, more bass in most cases. What people didn’t realize at the time is that every code line in a software program has to be perfect. One single letter or symbol out of place and everything is gone. There’s no space for any kind of interference.

This “interference” is what makes us humans. No computer can achive that. The digital doesn’t allow any range or adjustment. It doesn’t adapt. It only has two choices: to be perfect or to be nothing. Most people I know define their actions as perfect or nothing, “acting digitally,” probably thinking they live inside the matrix or something.

But if you are an actor, you have to be analog. It’s the ups and downs that create a rhythm for evolution to occur. There’s no need for evolution inside perfection. The passion that guides our actions comes from our imperfections and cannot be reproduced by something that has the absolute truth inside itself like a computer does.

In a couple of decades you probably won’t see mechanic to fix your car or a doctor to fix your cold because these professions are “solution based,” about finding the perfect piece to fit the puzzle. But you’ll always find an actor in a stage because it’s a profession that is “performance based,” meaning that the solution doesn’t matter because what counts is the ups and downs, like a tuner in an old radio looking for the perfect sound. It’s all about the power of the wave.

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