Here are a few quotes from recent blogs, reviews and forums concerning the state of the arts and high-end audio. Although these represent minority opinions, it’s refreshing to know there are some rare birds calling it like it is.

I don’t have to understand an artwork through linguistic conventions, I have only to feel it.

Yes, yes. But how often do you find yourself looking at contemporary art and feeling nothing. You follow that by reading the description of the work for some help only to find an obtuse paragraph posing as brilliant, disguised with convoluted, multisyllabic language.

Lots of intellectual mush going around these days. Cultural failings, educational failings, desire not to offend, many etiologies. Fidelity is derived from the Latin meaning faithful. High fidelity was intended as audio reproduction that was as faithful as possible to the original performance. That was its raison d’ȇtre for those who hoped to bring the sound of the great works performed by great artists into the homes of music lovers. You can prefer what you wish, you can think what you wish, but the faithful reproduction of the live performance of acoustic instruments and human voice will always remain the definition of high fidelity audio.

As faithful as possible to the original performance is the goal of the recording engineer. The best we can do at home is to be as faithful as possible to the recording.

People do have certain expectations [of art]—and sometimes the best way to create interest is to defy them in a way that doesn’t employ shock value, which is often the fallback position.

Now there’s a solution that deserves creative attention.

Modern audiophiles are the only bunch that I can think of that not only doesn’t care to have a reproduction as close to the real thing as possible but are actually proud of the fact that they spend ridiculous sums of money on equipment and still get no closer.

And why is this?

In the 70s the press frequently took it upon themselves to point out to audiophiles the dangers of believing manufacturer’s hype. The [current] universal silence tethered to doublespeak and insatiable greed has resulted in all too predictable bed partnering between makers and press.

Ya think? This same sort of press/curator collusion is likewise evident in the arts.

It used to be that the problem for any ethical manufacturer out there, the ones interested in bringing to market products that truly solve genuine problems for audiophiles for a reasonable price, was in simply getting the word out.

It still is. And it used to be the problem for dedicated artists out there, the ones interested in bringing to life works that truly express genuine emotion, was in simply getting recognition.

Critics are later judged, not by the book they failed to pan, but by the book they failed to praise.

So true. Too much effort is spent on criticizing things undeserving of the spotlight. We would be better served with exposure to little know gems, those far between rarities that aren’t already on everybody’s shortlist.

It is easier [for manufacturers] to talk to audiophiles on the level of their existing misconceptions and simply coddle them into a state of readiness to buy what is in all likelihood an unnecessary purchase for them. Of course, this all has really been brought about in direct cooperation with the audio press, and, nowadays the corruption of it is no longer simply based on the comparative ignorance of the buyer, but is now being exploited in order to manipulate, insure and create that ignorance from the beginning. They are building for themselves en masse the perfect consumers: ready made and stuffed to the gills with crap science.

Buyers [must be] willing to take it upon themselves to be responsible for their own education. As long as anyone remains willing to shift that responsibility to somebody else and not do their own homework, they’ll never stand a snowball’s chance. They will all too often not even have the awareness to realize how badly they’ve been taken.

Prices were equated with artistic value. The highest sellers were seen as the best artists. Galleries got bigger, then became multinational, opening branches here and then in Europe and Asia. Wherever money went, art followed (it should be the other way around).

It is sad. Yes, it takes effort and time to sort through the noise, but if it matters to you, you owe it to yourself. As high-end audio has forgotten science and lost its head, “high-end” contemporary art has forgotten emotion and lost its heart. They are similarly based on pseudo value, pseudo quality, and arbitrary importance. Art experts, reviewers, and curators make declarations of what’s important and valuable. They set, by their assertions, questionable standards of quality, craftsmanship, and content. Money has taken control to become the defining criterion of all that counts.

It takes effort and time to sort through the noise of the world. If you care about art, audio, music, if you care about anything, you owe it to yourself to focus on the things that matter to you.


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