Jose Luis Lara of Venezuela, performing at Feria de Paracho Guitar festival, Uruapan, Michoacan, August 2013

Jose Luis Lara of Venezuela, performing at Feria de Paracho Guitar festival, Uruapan, Michoacan, August 2013

Sitting in a classical guitar recital in a stark, echo-y room, I am drifting away on my own musings and wondering (not for the first time) just what is this obsession with cell phone recording?  It´s world-wide, it´s multigenerational, it´s multi-genre, and apparently completely indifferent to acoustics.  Rumbling buses thunder by, church bells gong, metal chairs scrape on tile floor, and yet they film on.


Not to knock the performer, he really is quite good, I just can´t imagine what the point is.  Are they all cub reporters on the culture beat? Working for the local paper?  Guitar bloggers?  Do they want us to think they work for Rolling Stone, I sneer, as I snap a few photos myself.  Then 2 or 3 or 6 more just to make sure I got a good one.


Hmm, I don’t think its vocational filming (except maybe the guy with the shoulder hoisted super cool Sony HD – yeah, I noticed you, cool camera).  I think it´s just some irresistible urge to document, some societal affliction to share, that we all now suffer from.


I recently read someone compare it to a psychedelic experience, this strange phenomenon of people attending live events and then watching the entire thing through the lens of their IPhones.  It is a bit strange when you think of it that way.  Like those funny golf periscopes that have mirrors inside so you can hold them over the crowd and watch through them to see the action.  Google them, they are ridiculous.  And not just because they take the full immensity of our peripheral vision and squash it into a tiny square of light reflected onto a mirror… but because they look pretty silly too!  Especially when you´re swirling your head around because you can´t find the ball, which let´s be honest–is often, because the ball is small… and so is the viewfinder.


But I digress.  Classical music does that to me, makes me wander right off into some other place altogether.  We were talking about cell phone recording of concerts and why we all feel the need to do it, and some of us obsessively.  I think at some point it was so we could watch it again later, but I don’t think people really do that—watch it again later.  Is it to make their friends back home super jealous, bragging about their fabulous recital attending lives?  Or are they just documenting their existence, “Kilroy was here,” style?


I can´t really understand it, but I too feel the urge, the pull of the phone.  I don´t know why but when I have it, I just want to use it.  I am always most happy when I am not allowed to take photos. Phew, put it away, turn it off.  Enjoy the show.  Let someone else document the event –preferably the guy with the big cool camera, the one with the proper lens and the correct aperture.  Because you see, that is the real conundrum.  I can forgive the laymen his enthusiasm, the casual hobbyist IPhone filmmaker, they really believe they are getting good shots.  The auto stabilizer and the color correction of the screen tells them so.  But I know there is really no point, I have seen the effect of good lighting and impressive focal length.


If it is merely for your own amusement, why not just watch the show?  I wonder smugly, as I fumble for a scrap of paper to jot myself a note, “Interesting… must explore later… this connection between cell phone filming and self-indulgence.”


I am a note taker, I muse, if I had my druthers I´d take notes on everything.  It is from my many years of being a professional writer, yep it´s true I nod, scribbling away, I am a professional writer.  I wonder if they think I work for Rolling Stone, taking notes during a concert and all?  I do fit the part, I think, looking dapper with my jeans and cool tennis shoes and my snazzy hotel pen and my sheet of bright yellow legal pad paper folded over 4 times to fit into my mini-purse.


IPhone filmmakers–they are everywhere, they are ridiculous—I think, as I peer over the shoulder of the guy in front of me to watch the show from his Blackberry.


Inspired, I serendipitously, (I mean, surreptitiously), take a quick  still shot with my Windows phone, and with the touch of a button: I send it to Facebook.  Yeah– that’s right! Catherine was here!