Software of the Spectacle

icon1 flick harrison | icon4 Jul 2, 2011| icon3

Final Cut Pro X means Apple has abandoned professional artists

by Flick Harrison

Guy Debord said that the main function of our society is now the production of spectacle. The spectacle alienates us from life and each other. Facebook, for instance, transforms our relationships into images of those relationships, mediated by Facebook's own hidden desires.

Fifteen years of engagement with the Final-Cut-Pro-using professional class is, at best, a good self-funding, street-cred foundation for the new consumer version of FCP, called FCP-X.  It could be compared to the free itunes app of yesteryear which slowly led us to the Itunes Store and thence to the app store, iphone and ipad.

Since Photoshop or thereabouts, the line between artist / consumer / producer has blurred for many reasons.  Web 2.0 was a major result / acceleration of that, when the content between ads suddenly became user-generated instead of professionally-produced.  Popping out a lower-cost, easier-to-use version of FCP should goose the whole production stream in that direction, not only helping fill the million-channel universe with consumer-produced stuff but driving the wages of pros down.

Final Cut X fits perfectly into this paradigm - it's part of Apple's mission to stop selling software / hardware and start selling experiences. You produce video with Final Cut X / Imovie / whatever because it's a way to keep you on the mac, where you'll get app-store suggestions etc. and listen to Itunes where you'll buy things.

Then you'll post your movie on Youtube so that other people will spend more time on their computer watching it, where they'll get ads pushed at them.

Professional content producers are a bit of a problem in this system because they expect to get paid for producing content, and because they have a set of specific needs.  Apple is smart to abandon them because the rest of the public will buy whatever software Apple puts in front of them if it is "slick" and "fun," and they'll learn to accept its paradigms rather than vice-versa.

Senior artists in any discipline are a problem, partly because they want to get paid, but also because they are interested in ideas and formal play rather than spectacle.  They try to make work that reduces their own and their audiences' alienation rather than increasing it, even work that exposes the spectacle itself.

There is anger and dismay from professional editors who now feel they need to abandon Final Cut and the whole Apple suite of pro products.  The most sophisticated, team-based and integrated-workflow tools of FCP have been dropped, as if those skills and experiences are irrelevant to the art form in which they earn their crackers.

What's left is only spectacle.

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