Creativity is Analog; Digital is Facsimile

Creativity is Analog; Digital is Facsimile

The most remarkable of remarkable things I witnessed during a month spent in China was culture clash – very old and very new – coexisting and competing for road space. Young and old, physically one or two generations removed, expose a gap wider than Jimi Hendricks and The Christie Minstrels – in many ways it’s the land time forgot.

We are analog beings. Analog is the smooth steady sensation on our hands, through our eyes, and in our ears, it’s unlimited in detail and richness.  Analog is the space in which we create things; it’s where we get our hands dirty. Our senses are not nearly acute enough to capture the immense detail of our analog world.

Digital is like touching a hair brush of ones and zeros, it’s like looking at an image full of holes or listening to harsh staccato tones.  Move the bristles close enough to each other and potentially it’s a good surface simulation. As we experience every day, those 1’s and 0’s eventually reach the edge of our senses. Digital detail is limited to what our senses need to perceive the facsimile of analog richness.

Digital gave us efficiencies and the ability to move and edit large numbers. Large portable numbers give us the ability to manipulate a simulated world. What we know is that digital technology is fast, inexpensive and accessible. As generations die, we further bake digital into our culture.  When fully baked, what then?

We all know quality when we see it.  We know what it feels like, and how it sounds, tastes and looks. Quality is not a simulation, it’s analog. Digital quality is a facsimile – albeit a good one – of real analog quality. What we experience as quality is the realness of fine detailed conception. Quality is the best humans can create.

Creativity is analog. There is no such thing as digital creativity.  Accept it, then understand there are critical points at the Analog to Digital conversion and vice versa.  In audio they’re called D/A Converters and they’re found in ever CD player and computer.  Lousy D/A converters mean you’ve lost sound fidelity. Want a quality photo print?  The D/A conversion from light to pixels or back from computer to ink on paper is the most crucial.  Everything else is just editing numbers, and yes there is good and bad editing but don’t forget the priorities are at either end.

My point is that the richness you and I perceive as quality, just like my experience in China, can be like old and new competing for road space. I recently viewed a presentation where an advertising opinion leader characterized the new definition of quality to a room full of students as: fast, accessible, and cheap.  As generations die this will get further baked into culture but, in reality, it’s more or less a digital simulation of what’s good enough and has nothing to do with real quality.

My point is illustrated in this beautiful video “UP THERE” about the precarious profession of hand painting billboards.


The Music: “Window” and “Twentytwoforteen” written by James Lavalle and performed by Album Leaf Courtesy of SUBPOP Records.

advertising, Analog, Art, Craftsmen, Creativity, Digital, Quality, Skill, Talent, Video

5 Responses to “Creativity is Analog; Digital is Facsimile”

  1. scott Says:

    Your ‘quality’ post. Very good, very smart.

    Scott

  2. Billy Says:

    Great post and fantastic film, Bruce. Digital has certainly made lots of things possible. But analog is real life. Here’s to the people who are passionate enough to do it the “hard” way. Let’s keep them around. And employed.

    • Bruce DeBoer Says:

      Thanks Billy – I spend a lot of time mimicking analog using new tech. – I too envy those doing it the real way.

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