In this year’s John Peel Lecture, gifted musical luminary Brian Eno delivered a hopeful vision for the future of the arts. One which affects us all in a way that may not be immediately obvious.
I guess like many, my view of Brian Eno has been shaped by his experimental compositions - specifically for Roxy Music. I hadn’t quite realised the extent to which his genius extended beyond the studio.
He began by providing a broad definition of what he perceives as art. That being “anything you don’t have to do” which is easy to dismiss initially until you give it a little thought. We need to eat to stay alive, but we don’t need to create a lemon meringue pie. We need to reproduce but we don’t need to practice in so many exotic ways…
Everything that’s created over and above what’s necessary is, in Eno’s view, art. An art that’s accessible by all, a kind of hidden utopia that’s existed forever.
Taking an episode of a soap opera as an example, he explained how he overheard two women discussing a scene on a bus. Via the medium of this conversation, the women were able to talk frankly and express opinions in a way which they may of struggled with otherwise. So art, in all its guises, promotes a dialogue which helps us to synchronise our own views with those of others.
This idea is particularly pertinent on a planet of perpetual change. When change is increasing its pace every passing day, art’s relevance is increasing alongside it.
His closing message was one of light and positivity for a future world in which menial tasks will be primarily undertaken by technology. Rather than fear a Dystopian rise of the machines type scenario, we should consider how future generations will use all their extra time. In Eno’s view, they’ll be turning ever more to the arts to comprehend it all and perpetuate the necessary collaborative thinking that got us all here in the first place.