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 hyperreal (as per Baudrillard). That is, the reality offered is more detailed than reality itself, 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.) Here is more evidence of the sort of obscene or perverse level of detail that Ultra HD offers. It's far beyond what is comfortable, and tends to enter the realm of the Ballardian--particularly his idea of the forensic portrait.

(17 December 2018)