Be prepared

The “Viditar”

These days, the video f/x at a live concert are as important as the musical performance. But up until now, a video-savvy band had only two options: i) To have a preprogrammed display, which can be kinda boring, or ii) have a video DJ. But the video DJ winds up being stuck behind a computer keyboard. To free these guys from the desktop, a music-tech company invented the “Viditar” — a video guitar. Strap this baby around your neck and you are now part of the stage act, cuing and remixing video on the fly while strutting around. The band Sinch uses one of these things, as they describe on their site:

The Viditar allows us to bring the visual part of the show out of the background and integrate it into the stage performance. The moving images are performed live in the same way that the guitar, bass, drums and vocals are. Presenting the visual information in this way allows the images to interact with the other band members and their instruments in real time so that what you are seeing is a unique part of that night’s performance, and not just the same pre-recorded movie played exactly the same way at every show.

There’s only problem. The Viditar is obviously technologically cool, but holy moses would you look like a moron wearing that thing around your neck. Remember when guitar-style “wearable” keyboards became popular in the 80s? Remember how transcendentally ludicrous those keyboardists were? It was the Himalayan peak of cringe-inducing 80s rock fashion, arguably worse than either the colored jumpsuits or asymmetric hair that also plagued that style-troubled decade.

What’s more, the Viditar seems to betray a weird insecurity about the “coolness” of having a computer and keyboard on stage. Personally, I love it when I go to a concert and I see the band pull out a computer or laptop. It indicates I’m about to hear some innovative music. The computer doesn’t need to emulate the guitar; it has supplanted the guitar as the central symbol of musical coolness in the 21st century. It far more deserves to be on stage than this Viditar thing.

(I say this, by the way, as someone who’s played the electric guitar for 20 years and owns six of the things.)

(Thanks to Brian Corocoran for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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