In a day and age characterized by the i-pod, i-pad, i-phone, everything is geared toward being user-friendly for the benefit of the user. With all of this technology floating around trying to make everything easier for the individual, can the arts still bring everyone together? I believe so. In “Pearls Before Breakfast” Gene Weingarten describes the views of philosopher Immanuel Kant on beauty as a combination of opinion, fact and of the observer’s state of mind. The last part of his description is what is so intriguing about all of the people passing by one of the world’s greatest violinists in the video. Being one of the world’s greatest violinists, selling out at Carnegie Hall, it is no doubt Joshua Bell’s music would fulfill Kant’s first two requirements of beauty- opinion and fact. However, the state of mind of his audience was on work, or being late, or getting lottery tickets, astray from the free front-row seats they were being treated with. Placing myself in these people’s shoes, if it was my morning commute, I would most likely wiz right by as they did. On the contrary, if my state of mind was focused solely on Bell, I or most people for that manner would appreciate the music for it’s beauty. Similarly, if a famous painting was taken from a museum and hung on the wall of a restaurant, it would not stick out anymore than others says curator Mark Leithauser. In both of these situations, the frame of mind of the audience is not on the art or beauty. I believe that when people are focused on the art, they can be brought together. When popular musicians have concerts, they sell out. Even if the musician is not as popular, they still create beauty that is appreciated more when the focus of the audience is on them as opposed to their minds being astray.
As technology continues to progress, it begins to engulf and transform the arts into an idealized image for an individual user. Technology conforms the art into a more usable matter for the user. In the above picture, an art museum is using interactive art on a tablet to make the art more interesting for us, the viewers. Technological advancements begin to dominate the art the musicians or artists are creating. Similarly, in “Pearls Before Breakfast” W.H. Davis is quoted in saying
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
Writer Gene Weingarten expands on this saying that our society is so busy with work, having the only goal being the accumulation of wealth, that we begin to have tunnel vision about anything going on outside. The arts have began to conform around this idea in the i-pod, choosing which songs you want to listen to, blocking out everything on the outside. Also, with technology comes new platforms for the arts to be shared. Many of the pictures we look at are now on a phone, tablet, or computer screen.
With the advancement of technology, creating a balance between personal space and shared experiences becomes all the more difficult. In my father’s generation, there was no texting or anything of the sort of personal space technology barricades us with today. Kids played outside and there were many more communal experiences. Thirty or so years later, and the amount of personal space for an individual’s mind has increased significantly. There are multiple places where we can be with a group of people, but the technology we use confines us into our own personal domains. I believe that it is possible to reverse this pattern revolving around personal space and the individual mind, and to balance it with shared experiences like the arts. However, I do believe this would be a difficult task. Technology is progressing further toward the pattern of personal space, while to have a group experience you would have to move against the grain of technological progression. In other words, you are merely moving backward into the way society functioned prior to this technological burst of progression. I believe we are destined to be “alone together” unless an effort is made to make space for shared activities. Society is slanting rapidly in this direction, in order to stop it drastic changes must be made, which are not impossible.