Jesse Jarnow

on cell cams at shows, cont: western keitai

In the introduction to Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, a fascinating collection of academic essays (mostly translated from Japanese), Mizuko Ito defines keitai networks:

In contrast to the cellular phone of the United States (defined by technical infrastructure), and the mobile of the United Kingdom (defined by the untethering from fixed location) (Kotamraju and Wakeford 2002), the Japanese term keitai (roughly translated, “something you carry with you”) references a somewhat different set of dimensions. A keitai is not so much about a new technical capability or freedom of motion but about a snug and intimate technosocial tethering, a personal device supporting communications that are a constant, lightweight, and mundane presence in everyday life.

Maybe, the relentless clicking of cell cams at shows constitutes part of what might be described as Western keitai. That is, along with mp3s both financially and corporeally devaluing recorded music, it is possible that concerts are slipping into the realm of the day-to-day. Taking pictures, then, isn’t an attempt to capture anything momentous, but to simply mark the occasion, like a diary entry. And, sure, maybe that’s a defiling of live music as sacred ritual/spectacle, yadda yadda yadda, but it’s probably time for a change, anyway. Wouldn’t wanna be late for the future, after all.