Be careful about what you put in your mouth. Can we really choose what we taste in a day? I think not. The earth is programmed to make us watch, hear and taste a wide variety of middle of the road offerings. And the fact is when you hear something enough; you will become tolerant to it. So how does one preserve one’s taste in a home where the bar is littered with home delivery menus (Bandra – Mumbai is the next level), the hard drive is packed with films, and discographies of artists one will never hear? The act of purchasing art is a commitment to one’s taste. When did you last buy a CD or an original DVD? What tangible act can you commit to prove, even to yourself, that you have chosen your taste? You can try pressing delete.
Technology has created an environment that is hostile towards art. The rider and the horse switched places. One could get all moralistic about this and moan till the cows come home but I would say let’s roll with it if that’s how you wanna play. It’s just evolution showing man who’s the boss, again. As a result, artistes have to conquer technology to stay afloat and also hobnob with those who would’ve clearly not been in this game if it wasn’t for their technical skills. Misplaced but interesting discussions are overheard where one side discusses what cocktail of drugs were consumed by the Grateful Dead before they wrote Fire on the Mountain while another party drones on about how they would sound if they were recorded on pro tools in a digital studio. In the gap lies the crisis of our time. But one must factor in that evolution is the most surprising phenomenon of nature. And the crisis I mentioned could become an art source. Art from the gap.
In this environment, I feel it’s our taste that creates the artistes we become. Taste is fragile, yet extremely difficult to deconstruct. It’s our primary filter through which we see life. And now we need another filter to protect our filter. I love this time. The challenge has shifted to a cerebral region.
I’m a musician from Kolkata. Having played the cover rock scene and fought with every band over creative issues, now I find comfort in the younger emerging lot of musicians in this city. It’s a sea change from ten years back. Everyone writes, reads, watches films, is bored by musical athletics and knows involuntarily how to protect their taste filter. I find myself in the midst of a real scene. The eye opener for me was the open mic which I have been hosting in Someplace Else (at The Park, Kolkata) for the last few years. The first year was chaotic and explosive. As many as thirty to thirty five bands and artistes would come and play on a single six hour long night of mayhem. I met all of them but most importantly they met each other. I got more and more familiar with the crowd as it seemed to grow like a virus. I saw musicians shifting from band to band, skipping genres, and this game of musical chairs continued till there was no one in the middle. Everyone chose a side. Or a couple of sides (some of us have forked tongues). Now, on any given night, I scan the crowd and see poets, filmmakers, journalists, painters, musicians, writers, theatricians and actors. Every single person buzzing with a vibe and showing it off. This then breaks up into several house parties where the mayhem continues. Most of this is divided by taste. Music is played, heard, films watched, videos made, sex had and the morning light finds your destroyed body with the taste of a hangover from last night.
But thanks to the mingling or the ghettoisation if you will, we start discovering the references that our references held. The heroes of our heroes. Our taste gets reason. Our art gets context. Being an artist is a 12am to 12am job. Some of us have had to fit in a 9 to 5 in between. More so in cities which demand more human energy for survival.
At the core of this discussion lies the city offering us a soft space with low rent and a lower cost of living, allowing us to live the life of an artiste with minimum distortion or commercialisation to our most preferred form. This city is the filter that saves our taste filter.