Less is more

From a report on “Mes­sages with Mean­ing for our Tomor­row” at 40th Inter­na­tion­al Fea­tures Con­fer­ence in Leipzig, may 2014. 

Lis­ten­ers to Prix Europe pre­sen­ta­tions, Berlin 2011, cre­at­ing their own images – Pho­tographs by Jan Kopet­zky

(…) I referred to a num­ber of con­tri­bu­tions with the fol­low­ing essence: “One of the strongest reme­dies for the sur­vival of radio doc­u­men­tary will be the VISUALISATION OF RADIO“.

My point of view: This would mean giv­ing up the main virtues of the non-visu­al medi­um. That is: cre­at­ing images in the heads of lis­ten­ers and – by the way – mak­ing each of them to co-authors of our pro­grams. In the end, to add pic­tures and oth­er side-effects would mean to „cut the branch on which we are sit­ting”, as Ger­mans use to say. 

I gave dif­fer­ent exam­ples for what I mean. For instance: 

In the last year’s spec­tac­u­lar exhi­bi­tion of draw­ings and wood­cuts of Albrecht Dür­er (1471–1528) I saw a series of prints, plain­ly black and white. But artists of that time – so the Dür­er fam­i­ly too – sur­vived by sell­ing those sheets on mar­ket places, and in order to make them more attrac­tive they col­orized them, using base colours – Red, Yel­low, Blue. They may have been suc­cess­ful. But the com­par­i­son of both series in the Frank­furt exhi­bi­tion revealed: All the refine­ment of the orig­i­nals had been elim­i­nat­ed by adding “attrac­tion”. The result were flat Mick­ey-mouse-like comics, so to say. Artis­tic sui­cide.

Now draw your own con­clu­sions …

To make a five-minute-lec­ture short: What I plead for, is the author and his voice (in the widest sense of course); his tone, his humour, his fol­ly, his weird­ness, his entire per­son­al­i­ty; a human mes­sage to human ears, which doesn’t need “visu­al­i­sa­tion”. 

This plea is no form of nos­tal­gia – not at all. I claim to have been one of the first inde­pen­dent pro­duc­ers work­ing dig­i­tal­ly in the Mid-Nineties and I’m using all ben­e­fits of the mar­velous tool called World Wide Web every day. But the basics of our audio-phon­ic trade must be pre­served – on which future plat­form ever.