Two Boys, an opera about the internet

by ninashiel

I have recently discovered the wonderfully satisfying reading experience that is The Atlantic. Today, an article particularly struck a chord with me.

How do you depict the Internet in art? I can think of few current aesthetic crises as vital as this one. As the writer Quinn Norton has said, “Right now my field must tackle describing a world where falling in love, going to war and filling out tax forms looks the same; it looks like typing.”

The article describes producing an opera, which represents both ‘real’ and online spaces. I am interested that the designers and the journalist, Robinson Meyer, are quoting William Gibson without naming him, or citing the novel Neuromancer, from which the simile is taken.

Grimmer and Warner have made these spaces white or gray, steeped in a businesslike malaise: The sky outside the detective’s office was a kind of static charcoal, “the color of a television tuned to a dead channel.”

The writer seems to feel that the first line of Gibson’s novel is so well known by now, that is requires no citation – and he is probably correct. The designers emphasise that the effect of the audience seeing on the stage what the main character imagines in his mind is the core of the production: that online interaction is about imagination as much as it is about actual communication.