Monitors have always had a stern reputation throughout history – the very name means one who watches. In ancient Rome they watched the citizenry – in high school they watched the fights in the corridors. On Hampton Roads the crew of the USS MONITOR spent an instructive and noisy afternoon rendering themselves and the crew of the CSS VIRGINIA deaf and the Royal Navy obsolete. Now we have manufacturers of hifi speakers and stand alone video screens that would have us believe that their ‘monitors’ are the stern arbiters of art.
They might be, if they can be persuaded to work. I imagine that audio monitor speakers would probably be easy enough to manage – two, or at most three wires and $ 20,000 of weirdly-named electronic boxes and you could be listening to your 80’s re-mix Carpenter’s tribute 8-track all night. The video equivalent is altogether different.
We sell ’em. People buy ’em. A profit is made and no-one has died yet, so I guess all is well.
But I defy anyone to actually understand the device they are buying. From the manufacturer’s labelling and code system – alphabet soup – to the supposed instructions for calibrating the thing to their computer – technical stew – the buyers are foundering in the wake of the wholesaler. They have booklets of instructions that can be downloaded but once this does not work they are on their own.
This would not be so bad if the customers had not arrived at this point $ 2500 lighter. The sting of this leads them to ring up the staff and sing a desperate song.
I’m cynical – I watch this dance of perfection/imperfection, money/no money, with amusement. I am the old dumb guy. I bought an Apple iMac 7 years ago and it worked first time I plugged it in. It still works. I view it in a dim room and the pictures that come off it print out on my Epson printer just fine. I cheerfully push pixels all day – and I save my feelings of despair for when the Manhattan cocktails run out…