I'm currently listening to one of the most profound songs that I know, which is the 2001 version of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Not her original, but the one that she did with full orchestra behind her.
I'm lucky... as a programmer by trade, I get to listen - pretty much uninterrupted - to music through my headphones for hours every day. I'd been using little earbuds lately, but yesterday I switched back to my big, head-engulfing Aiwa headphones and the sound quality is supreme. It's the difference between looking at pictures of the Bahamas and actually being in the warm sand and clear water of the Bahamas.
If you compare listening through normal speakers and listening through earbuds and then listening through high quality headphones, headphones win. By far. You can hear the musicians' subtleties, the ambient hollow in the faint echo of a drum... It's stunning. It's more. It makes me love music to where I crave it that experience again and again.
If headphones escalate the music experience that I have, then what's the equivalent for art?
Most of us view art casually, much like most people listen to music. Were it not for the isolated position that I have as a programmer, I'd be one of those people.
Prior to last December, art wasn't important to me. I didn't crave it. Pleasant, but non-essential. Not so today. Having painted and lived through the re-assembly of color and form, I know it more now. While one doesn't have to be making the music to appreciate it more, one shouldn't have to be a painter to have a heightened experience of art.
So what is the visual equivalent of headphones?
As I sit and think about it, I think it's actually owning the piece, in full-scale reproduction or print, and being able to be alone with it, in isolation, to look at it and consider it.
We all own hundreds, or even thousands, of songs. But we own so little art. Is that because songs are 99¢ each and art is, well, at least a $20 purchase at Wal-Mart or $hundreds from a private atrist or gallery?
I know that Bill Gates' home has large, flat-panel screens that displays works from his collection. I know also that some companies are trying to get consumers to purchase art in bulk for display on their plasma screens at home.
Seems to me like like there's an opportunity here for indpendent artists... much like MP3's made it available for independent musicians to release their music to the world without music companies.