Tuesday, March 06, 2012

the hipstamatic and beats headphones: why style beats fidelity

As my recent photos will attest, I am a fan of the hipstamatic. Recently some critics have argued it cheapens photojournalism now that hipstamatic photos are regularly published in major publications (Time, NY Times, etc) and winning major photojournalism awards, but I think the lesson is that people don't care about fidelity. Digital photography surpassed a decade ago the level of fidelity that any human could possibly detect. And yet the the number of megapixels keep growing. The hipstamatic showed, that it is megapixels that matter but style.

Similarly, when Dr Dre's beats headphones were introduced they were roundly bashed, as having the lowest fidelity of any high end head phone. But just a quick survey on people on the subway show that people don't care. It is style, both in the look, but also in the frequency response (the booming base that makes the headphones sing), that people are drawn to.


James Lin said...

I'm getting really tired of Instagram photos. The style might be cute, but it's just way overdone. When people share photos with friends, I want to see them and the people they're with. I'm not interested in their photos as art.

When you're looking back at your photos 20 years from now, you'll probably appreciate being able to see the original photos in clear detail without artificial grain, overexposure, desaturation, etc.

People moved on from actual 1960s- and 1970s-era photos for a reason. It's called progress. Next thing you know, people will filter the hell out of their home videos so they can recreate the VHS experience.

Ben Ho said...

sure.. but progress in art got to the 1800's when photography was invented and paintings got as photo realistic as they were ever going to get, and painters (impressionists, post-impressionists, cubists, etc.) realized that the truth of something has nothing at all to do with the accuracy of the physical representation.