But if Rubik’s Cube seems less real to us somehow – is more diffused and less of a physical object than it once was, then it’s certainly not alone.
Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because you almost certainly have. This bit’s all about digitisation and how post-90’s culture found itself staked-out and exposed on the hot glass of a flat-bed scanner, marooned in the unflattering glare of a sloooow, on-going photocopy of the twentieth-century that threatened to vaporise everything in its path and convert it into binary steam. In the late-90s and first half of the 2000s, culture temporarily stalled; it got stranded in the Realm of the Partially-Digitised – trapped in a no-man’s land between two different business-models, a victim of Capitalism’s unspoken intent to migrate cultural objects into the post-physical domain. ‘Cos, like, the best-est, least resource-hungry way to monetise the universe is to make a fucking copy of it and flog you that out the back of an HTML van. Corporate-pirated copies of the same old, same old things, over and over and over again.
Still, there’s no point in over-egging all this because it’s old, cold news and you’re all familiar with the shape of the physical vs. digital debate: its pros and cons are still being acted out in the pundit-columns of Wire magazine every month. No, what interests us more here at Hacker Farm is the way that this uncoupling of cultural objects (music, art, literature, film) from the physical world eroded traditional notions of ‘value’, and how this then impacted on people’s expectations about the availability and worth of music, for example. In a world where everything – or rather, a copy of everything – is just a mouse-click or an iGesture away, then some algebraic variation on the following probably holds true:
Zero Apparent-Mass * Zero Relativistic-Value = Featureless Interchangeable Ubiquity of Music-Forms / Potentially Ignorable Gigabytage Held on Hard-Drive. A formula in which every side eventually cancels itself out and tends towards zero.