Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Attention Span Getting Ever Shorter

In moments of total fatigue or desperation I sometimes play Solitaire on my iPhone, the game subject to intermittent interruptions by unwelcome ads.  Try as I may I cannot locate the SkipIt button in time to avoid at least 3 seconds of flicker.

I am astonished at the amount of activity/change/implied plot can be contained in those 3 seconds.  They attest to an ever decreasing span of attentiveness to the moving image and, I suspect, to every other form of content.

Perhaps the hardest form of motion to take in is the vibration of living sound.  Everything conspires against noticing it and taking it seriously.

I knew back in the early 60's before TV had ironized its grip on us all that this would be a challenge for anyone in the performing arts: How to program so that people would notice time passing rather than assume it in pre-packaged durations, like one side of a 33 rpm record.

So I began purposefully to program chamber music recitals which alternated not only styles but durations with works as long as 45 seconds juxtaposed with others more traditionally 45 minutes long.

The danger doesn't decrease.