James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.


Regarding Concerts

There are moments when I think about how much of the concert experience is lost when you are hyper focused on creating a great shot, or telling people that you are somewhere. The magic is gone, everything that makes social media beautiful and personal is immediately lost when it is used for bragging. Many of times when it is mentioned that people no longer go to concerts anymore, it is quite apparent that they are no longer there in spirit.

Music is something that people find incredibly personal. Something that others find is only true to themselves. Many times, people find lyrics that speak to them, but cannot imagine how someone else connects to it. For instance, when a song comes on, the reaction that occurs in a person is completely different than another person. At times, others may be quite offended at your reaction of a tune. If it is a love song, someone may find pleasure where others may find pain.

While attending a concert fairly recently, Nneka at Lincoln Hall, I noticed something greatly interesting. People were spending more time documenting the show rather than enjoying what they had around them. The personal connection was lost, nothing was gained but the intense focus on either documenting the time in front of them, or sharing it with social networks. Humble bragging or focusing further on showing off that they are there rather than living in the moment. C’ne and I wondered and discussed why people did this. What causes people to lose sight of what is in front of them in order to just portray where they’ve been. Is it for a sense of showing that you are better than them. Is it a simple mode of one upping people you know or strangers for that matter?

While thinking about projects to take on, I began to have a thought. While so many people have a need to express what they feel when they go out to an event, this is all a shared moment by many, almost an exposing of things that you thought were particularly personal. Meanwhile everything that you find personal someone else finds personal as well. Anything that is a public event, something that the masses are meant to consume, immediately breaks down that solely personal feeling that you supposedly hold. There are millions of other memories that are being built to that public event or product.

Think about an example. There’s your favorite song that you listen to in various situations. In those situations, since that artist has released that song to the public, there are thousands of other people listening to that song, crafting thousands of their own memories. While these memories are crafted to their tunes, you personally hold your own memory to that song tightly, as if it is the only memory that exists. That you feel that artist was speaking directly to you in that song. That the artist was speaking directly to your situation. That the artist made a personal connection to you. When going to a concert, chances are all of the attendees have the same feeling. The venue is full of attendees who feel that artist has made a personal connection to them in some kind of way. By making that personal connection to multiple people, your personal connection is not as personal as you may have fashioned it to be. It is a meer crafted feeling that you have created. That feeling that the artist has made a handcrafted experience for you has been shattered. Either the artist has A) creating something for themselves and released it to the public for consumption and the consumers found a personal connection in it, or B) the artist has created something general enough where the intention is to have enough people fill in the blanks with personal anectdotes as much as possible. This can be a way for how general, and highly accessible, pop music works, where its popularity raises based on how many people can provide personal experiences to the product which is the music. Everyone knows that the more likely you build a personal experience with a product, the chances are you are going to buy it. Why do you think used car salesmen want you to try a car before you buy it, why you hop on iTunes to purchase that song that made you feel so happy with your friends at the club, or simply the minute you touch and access your email on a demo tablet in store, the chances are you keep visting with the final purchase as the outcome. Personal experiences provide connection and feed the product, which leads to sales.

Anyway back to the concert. There are all these people experiencing personal moments that they feel were handcrafted for them, when in fact thousands of people have their own moments with the same product which is the song. What causes us to want to share that with the world. What causes us to escew that connection that we build in our heads to share it with our friends, enough that we spend the entire show taking pictures and uploading rather than enjoying the show.

James T. Green