January 14, 2011 Seth Perkins

Invention : The Experience Recorder

I was just walking through Rittenhouse Park on my way home from work.  Evening.  The park was lit with spheres of light hanging from trees.  The spheres were composed of white Christmas lights.  Stars.  They went up after Thanksgiving, but won’t be there much longer.  I decided to divert to the park to see them again before they left.

I wished I could have recorded the experience of the park at that point in my life, to be able to show that memory to my family down the road.  Something recorded through my eyes but with the impalpable feelings I can’t describe.  Photographs don’t cut it.  Even if I had my camera on me, I wouldn’t have been able to capture what that experience was.  My Droid did it’s best, but low light…  Still, even if I had the lights and crew to make something balancing contrast with composition, it would just be a snapshot.  Not something recording an experience through time and the senses.  What an incredible invention that would be.

… but isn’t that what the Arts do?  Ansel Adams gives us his reverent experience of the Nature’s beauty in a single snapshot of time; Monet: a lillypad, Beethoven : a thunderstorm, culinary artists: a culture.  If we could record our experiences, extract our memories and share them, would we need the Arts?  Would art devolve to a different kind of TV?  Then this gets to something I wrote earlier “If Computers Can Read the Human Brain, Plug Me In”.  I thought, among other things, it’d be amazing to be able to bring our imaginations out onto some canvas: broadcast the movies of our brains with a computer.  What if we could use that same technology to record memories?  Would some people sit alone in the dark, years on end, replaying the days of youth?  Would others rather watch others’ experiences than make their own?  Maybe that’s something we do already with reality TV.  Maybe then the technology doesn’t matter, just the application.

Still, I think of the day when we’re jacked in, like Ghost in the Shell, and our mortal thoughts can reside outside the mind to share and exist forever.


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