When new technologies replace old ones they’re judged on how close they replicate the original. How else would we know if it’s as good as what we’re replacing?
Take for example digital photography. The holy grail for digital photography was to duplicate film. Photoshop, the digital photographic program designed to manipulate pixel-based imagery, was originally focused on the pure task of getting as close as possible to film. As one of its earliest adopters for use in fine art, I remember the hate mail photographers got when they Photoshopped an image beyond the pure. Howls of protest of the computer’s defiling silver based photography were rampant. They feared digital would kill the old ways. And, it did.
Or, recording techniques at the introduction of stereo. Stereo replaced mono with the specific aim of better recreating the live space. Nearly all first stereo recordings focused solely on preserving the purity of the live event, something mono attempted to capture but was always handicapped to do so. Over time innovators began experimenting with what else could be done with this new recording medium and that’s when the distortion began.
We replace one technology with another in service of new bettering old. And that’s what we get until innovators realize the new is but a stepping stone to uncharted vistas.
The role of technology in maintaining the purity of what came before is important in the beginning.
Once it’s proven it can be as good, there’s nothing stopping it from building better.