Berlin Philharmonic flautist

Above: A flautist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Credit: Samsung/Digitalconcerthall.

Ultra HD Berlin Phil

One of the demo videos used for the new Samsung Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) televisions, is a performance by the Berlin Philharmonic--Andres Orozco-Estrada conducting Shostakovich 5, final movement. The level of visual detail is astonishing, but jarring. On one hand the music being produced by the ninety-odd musicians is supposed to elevate the human spirit leaving me spiritually fortified. On the other hand the level of detail does the complete opposite: it tethers me to the quotidian absolutely. The images are mainly close-up tracking-shots across the heads of individual performers. I get to see each member of the wind section in graphic detail. It's a dermatologist's nightmare vision: mainly middle-aged men, and I can see each mole, spot, red-patch, crusty flaking, birthmark, prickle of sweat, uneven beard trim, greasy forelock, neck bum-fluff, etc. It's unpleasant to look at, and the ongoing sight is inconsistent with the music (how I longed for 4K images of a mountain waterfall instead). There was, in the video, to use a phrase, too much information. In many cases such as this one, Ultra HD is just too alarmingly detailed. The reality offered is more detailed than reality as ordinarily perceived--When I am in a concert hall I do not get to wander through the musicians as they are playing, I sit well-back at about twenty metres away and I cannot make out the many all-too-human dermatological flaws and imperfections. Ultra HD offers an obscene or perverse level of detail. It's far beyond what is comfortable.

(17 December 2018)