Fuck Quality

So there was this one time back when I was a guitar player and I walked past that Guitar Tech place in LA (Because I’m British, and when we’re in LA we fuck the locals up by walking places)… and there was this low wall across the road, and on it were about 30 guys with poodle haircuts and gig-bags all going noodely-oodely-woodely-doo on their heavy metal guitars. They were going to guitar tech to learn how to be rock stars.


DSLR cameras have been invented and the internets are filling up with stuff done by the Steve-Vais of digital film-making. Like this:

Nocturne from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

Or this

which is a trailer for that episode of House – with Steve Vai’s take on it here. He’s not wrong. He’s just helping others to miss the point.

He knows his shit this guy, and people worship him. He reckons his blog gets about 150,000 visits a month… and having read it, he does kindof get it – but his followers don’t.

Maybe it’s ok – maybe this is what you need to do to make a living out of it – this degree of polish etc… but it reminds me of audio freaks who have million dollar stereos and one Huey Louis and the News record.

But I’m from the UK. We don’t do that sort of thing – we don’t have the money… so our cultural ecosystems evolve according to different forces.

You have to resign yourself to the fact that a large part of the audience is sort of thick, you know, and don’t appreciate quality however much you try to put it over. The fact is that our group, uh, isn’t…hasn’t got any quality. It’s just musical sensationalism. You do something big on the stage and a thousand geezers go, sort of, “Ahhhhh!” It’s just basic “Shepard’s Bush” enjoyment.

Pete Townshend understands art – that it’s about isolating the bit that makes people go “Ahhhhh” and amplifying it – doing it over and over. Like Loop. Like Picasso. Like anyone whoever broke any molds. This is what it’s about: the Shock of The New. It’s not about craft or quality. If you’re putting craft first then you’re investing in a game of diminishing returns in which someone else has all the money – which isn’t to say you don’t need a level of competence or talent to make a difference… but falling in love with the surface, with “quality”… with how much your stuff looks like “how it’s supposed to” is missing the point big time. Maybe you’ll get a job though.

Compare and contrast anything above with this:

The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up from Daan on Vimeo.

Notice the “quality”? Nope. It doesn’t need it. Art trumps quality – and if you think that’s extremism rather than art, you don’t understand art. And you probably weren’t In London in the 90s (and if you remember any of it, you probably weren’t there either)

So… there are a couple of things wrong with DSLR cameras for film… not so much the legendary rolling-shutter thing… but there’s something about them that make you aware of “quality”. I think part of it is the ability to shoot in low light – what happens is every single piece of grit on the pavement becomes a star – everything becomes brighter… I think you need lighting to guide attention and soften/darken the background. I did think I was going to be able to shoot in natural light – now I’m not so sure. Pity – because I want to be dependent on as few people as possible.

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