David Bowie - Icon and Visionary - Talking About the Future of the Internet in 1999

in #life6 years ago (edited)


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Introduction

It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since the great David Bowie passed away. Of all the multitude of celebrity deaths this is one of those that struck me the hardest.

I know he was in his seventies but it was still a complete shock. Prior to becoming ill with cancer whenever he appeared on TV or did interviews he always looked so fit and well. Despite his age he always retained a certain youthful vigour.


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Anyway it was synchronistic that I was thinking of Bowie and the one year anniversary of his passing that I came across a Gizmodo article which discussed an interview which he did with the BBC in 1999.

In this interview Bowie talks to Jeremy Paxman about the internet (still in it's infancy back then). The interview is worth watching not only for Bowie's incredibly prescient views and opinions but also Paxman's bizarre expressions and at time sneering tone.

For those that don't know Jeremy Paxman is a famous BBC interviewer who is known for his confrontational style. He is generally a man who is so square that he would make cubes jealous.

I don't know what is wrong with him in this interview but either he is unwell or taking some illicit substances. His responses to Bowie's entirely coherent and sensible words are very strange.

Bowie the Pioneer


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In the interview Bowie discusses the rebellious and disruptive nature of the internet and how it will change the world.

In my opinion everything he talks about has come to pass which make the protestations made by Paxman as the interviewer seem all the more ridiculous.

I can't help but wonder if he had still been around what he would have thought about blockchain?

I suspect the cancer probably made that the last of his priorities but in the past as this interview shows he was very forward thinking.

In addition to using the internet when most people didn't understand what the fuss was about, Bowie was one of the first artists to utilise videogames as an art form with projects like "The Nomad Soul".

Given his forward thinking nature I think he would most likely be working on some kind of blockchain based music project right now (if we hadn't lost him).

I would highly recommend watching the video - if you do I don't think you will fail to see the similarities with what he was saying back then about the internet and the state of blockchain now.


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Much of what he said could apply to things like Steemit.

The Gizmodo article did not feature a complete transcript of the interview so for those who are video phobic I have created my own below. It is also a chance form me to share some nostalgic images of Bowie himself.

Now I know why you don't often find complete video transcripts - it takes an age to transcribe a few minutes of video!

To try to make it easier to follow I have used Markdown quoting to show the questions, with bold text for Bowie's responses. I will also embed the video after the transcript.

My Personal Transcript of the Interview:



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"If you were starting out now...did I read some where that you said if you were 19 now you wouldn't go into the music business?"

"I think that's probably quite right. I think I would probably just be a fan and a collector of records."

"Err...I wanted to be a musician because it seemed....it seemed rebellious, it seemed subversive. It felt like one could affect change..to a form. It was very hard to hear music when I was younger."
"When I was really young you had to tune in to AFM radio to hear the American records. There was no MTV. "
"It wasn't wall to wall blanket music and so therefore it had a "call to arms" feeling to it - this is the thing that will change things."
" - A "dead dodgy" occupation to have - it still produced signs of horror from people if you said I'm in Rock and Roll!"


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"Now it's a career opportunity and the internet now carries the flag of the subversive, possibly rebellious and chaotic nihilistic..."

[Paxman gives a loud cynical sigh whilst rolling his eyes. Bowie responds:]

"Oh yes it is - forget about the Microsoft element, the monopolies do not have a monopoly, maybe on programs.."
What you like about it is the fact that anyone can say anything? Or do anything?
"From my stand...From where I am by virtue of the fact that I am a pop singer and writer...erm I really like, I embrace the idea that there's a really new demystification process going on between the audience and the artist."
"If you look back at this last decade there hasn't really been one single entity, artist or group that have personified or become the brand name for the 90s."
"Like it was starting to fade a little in the 80s. In the 70s there were still definite artists, in the 60s there were the Beatles and Hendrix. In the 50s there was Presley."

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"Now it's subgroups and genres. It's hip-hop, it's girl power, it's a communal kind of thing. It's about a community."

"It's becoming more and more about the audience because the point of having somebody who lead the forces has disappeared because the vocabulary of rock is too well known."
"It's a currency that is not,"

[Camera cuts to Paxman who looks astonished. I have no idea why.]

"It's not devoid of meaning anymore but it's certainly only a conveyor of information, it's not a conveyor of rebellion and the internet has taken on that as I said."

"So I find that a terribly exciting area. So from my standpoint being an artist, I like to see what the new construction is between artist and audience."
"There is a breakdown personified by the rave culture of the last few years where the audience is at least as important as who's playing at the rave."

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"It's almost as if the artist is there to accompany what the audience are doing and that feeling is very much permeating music and permeating the internet."

[Paxman has an exasperated look that is a combination between severe constipation and like he is about shit himself.]

But what is it specifically about the internet? Anybody can say anything and it all adds up to what? There's nothing cohesive about it like there was about the youth revolution in music.
"Oh but absolutely and because we at the time up until at least the 70s that we were still living under the, in the guise of a single absolute created society."
"There were known truths and known lies and there was no duplicity or pluralism about the things that we believed in."

"That started to breakdown rapidly in the 70s. The idea of a duality in the way we live, there are always two, three, four, five sides to every question."


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"That the singularity disappeared and that I believe has produced such a medium as the internet which absolutely establishes that we are living in total fragmentation."
You don't think some of the claims that are being made for it are hugely exaggerated? When the telephone was invented people made amazing claims for it!!!!

[Paxman looks like he is having his balls crushed in an industrial vice whilst he says this.]

"I know the president at the time when it was first invented, he outrageously said, he foresaw the day in the future when every town in America would have a telephone!"

[Paxman laughs]

"Now how dare he claim that? Absolute Bullshit!"

[Bowie smiles whilst he says it.]

"No you see I don't, I don't agree."

[Paxman tries to interrupt but Bowie keeps talking]


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"The internet, I don't think we've even seen the tip of the iceberg."

"I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society both good and bad is unimaginable. I think we are actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying."
It's just a tool though isn't it?

[Paxman looks like he is about to cry. He almost sobs the question out. He lifts up his hand in the air like he is about to blow Bowie a kiss but it just freezes half way and stays there awkwardly. Very odd. I don't know what drugs Paxman was doing but it looks like he was taking something.]

"No it's not. It's an alien life-form."

[Bowie giggles.]


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What do you think then?
"Is there life on Mars yes it's just landed here."
But that's simply a different delivery system there. You're arguing about something more profound?

"Oh yeah I'm talking about the actual context and the state of content is going to be so different to anything that we can really envisage at the moment."


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"Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so "in simpatico" it's going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about."
"It's happening in every form, it's happening in visual art, the breakthroughs..."

[Camera cuts to Paxman who looks like he is receiving a BJ right then and didn't expect the camera on him.]

"In the early part of the century with people like DuChamp were so prescient in what they were doing and putting down."
"The idea that a piece of work is not finished until the audience come to it and add their own interpretation and what the piece of art is about is the grey space in the middle."


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"That grey space in the middle is what the 21st century is about."



The Video of the Interview





Thank you for reading.


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Can't believe it's been over a year. Miss Alan Rickman two, they were both cool edgy guys.

I forgot we lost Alan Rickman too. Let's hope this year isn't the same.

Wow, again a magnificent post, packed of juicy information for us all, and many of us to digest for a long time! GREAT!!!

About a month ago, I was driving and there was an old interview with Bowie where he was discussing the internet, its advent and the potential that lays within its realms. It was fascinating to hear him talk about what we live on an everyday basis, almost 20 years later! What a monumental mind he had.

Thanks you so very much for sharing this. All for one and one for all! Namaste :)

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He was such a great artist ! Great post, thank you.

Thanks for reading:)

Great post as always man! A bit long but worth reading! Keep sharing!

I LOVED this post!!! "Make a cube jealous" hahhahaaha read the whole transcript but now I need to watch the video for all the expressions... but also just to get another look at the late great David Bowie :) fell in love with him as a child watching Labyrinth :)
Thanks for the this article! :)

You're welcome. It's true Paxman is so square his angles all add up to 360 degrees!

Of the many we have recently lost, I miss Bowie the most. I still play his Berlin period stuff pretty often. I don't get it why none of the current crop of pop stars aren't vocally touting this obvious crypto future. I think it says more about the current crop than it does the future music landscape. It's just a matter of time and low hanging fruit.

Yes and there will likely be pioneers who do notice it.

2016 was a tragedy in terms of loss of good people... Bowie was a visionary man. Too bad we lost him :(

Your articles are something else, really... I consider this one of your best yet... What an awesome look back at an honest to god musical legend and genius of our time...

Simply awesome work, @thecryptofiend... Very, very well done indeed!

Thanks mate you are too kind:) I find it amazing how forward thinking and prescient Bowie was.

My personal favourite track from him is "Life on Mars", but really there are so many classics to choose from, any list can be so interchangable! :)

Oh yes I think everyone has their own favourites! I love Life on Mars too - it is one of my faves:)

I liked his music and I liked his style...it wasn't for me, but he found his own niche and I respect that.

Yes for sure. Even if you don't like it you can respect it. Thanks for sharing your perspective:)

I had never really heard any personal quotes or interviews of Bowie's. He seems pretty clued up though. I think he would be a great addition to this discussion we have going about trolling. I imagine he would have some insightful revelations to add based on this.

For sure. He seemed to be quite wise:)

Amazing work done on this topic ! 💕Bowie !

Thank you yes he was amazing!

Beautiful and exciting. David was a visionary in many ways.

Congratulations for your hard work on this article.

Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wanted to do something a bit different from my recent medical posts:)

Thanks for sharing. Yeah, he was pretty amazing and insightful. It seems like a lot of artists from his era were. And those eyes...

the unusual appearance of Bowie’s eyes were due to a condition called anisocoria. Anisocoria is a condition characterised by an unequal size in a person’s pupils. In Bowie’s case, his left pupil was permanently dilated.
This can create the illusion of having different coloured eyes because the fixed pupil does not respond to changes in light, while the right pupil does. So Bowie’s left eye often appeared to be quite dark, due to the blackness of his dilated pupil, when compared to the blue of his right iris.
...

So what happened?

Anecdotally, the cause of Bowie’s anisocoria was attributed to the fallout from a lusty scrap in the spring of 1962. Bowie had come to blows with a friend, George Underwood, over a girl they were both hoping to date.
Both were just 15 at the time and their friendship seemingly remained intact. The two performed together in various bands before Underwood turned from music to painting and graphics. But Bowie’s left eye remained seriously damaged.
An impulsive punch had accidentally scratched the eyeball, resulting in paralysis of the muscles that contract the iris. From that day, Bowie’s left pupil remained in a fixed open position.
Over time, Bowie apparently thanked his friend for his notorious eye injury, telling Underwood that it gave him “a kind of mystique”. This mystique helped fuel some of Bowie’s greatest creations and enhance iconic images, such as the album cover for Heroes (1977).
His eyes could appear eerie and mismatched, producing a captivating or mesmeric gaze from on stage or through the lens of a camera. And the uncanny appearance of Bowie’s eyes was ideal for a performer who embraced ideas of the alien, the outsider, the otherworldly and the occult.

From https://theconversation.com/the-remarkable-story-behind-david-bowies-most-iconic-feature-52920

Cool thanks for sharing. I didn't realise it was from an actual fight. I assumed it was congenital but I can't imagine him without the unequal pupils - it was his thing!

I didn't know about the fight either, until I just looked it up. I thought he must have been partially blind in one eye. Pretty interesting.

Yes so we both learned something new lol:) I think it speaks to the nature of the man that he stayed friends with the other boy and even embraced the difference and made it a part of his image.

Simply outstanding. Thank you for the hard work and tedious effort to transcribe this for us! Great share.

You're welcome. I honestly didn't think it would take as long as it did! Plus afterwards I couldn't help but look for some of my favourite Bowie photos to go with it. There were just so many. He was such an amazing man!

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