The magnificent evolution of taste and culture

Thomas Fleurquin spaces out on the big 'why' and we're not just all sheep

I can’t remember the number of times that journalists have asked me why I started Distortion – a festival that between 2007 and 2014 grew from a crazy party crawl for 600 people, into a tsunami carnival with over 140,000 guests across the city. Where did the idea and motivation come from?

How do you answer the great “why” question? I never really know what to say, but I remember being pleased with myself the day I replied, “I just like to have a good time with my friends – what else makes sense in life?”

I have been impulsive and instinctive for many years but lately I started to feel like a settled grown up – having 4 kids and all – so I thought the time had come to reflect and try to share some deeper thoughts. It’s about more than me or Distortion: it’s a short reflection on people, art and social status.

In the fields of fashion, music and art, like-minded people in different parts of the world often seem to agree without connecting with each other. New bands, graphic patterns and social habits appear simultaneously in different cities, questioning the very nature of art and taste.

Are we genuine and distinct, or do we all follow trends to fit in? Some argue there is a nepotistic and “creative elite” who do their utmost to keep their own kind in and shut out everyone else. But it is, of course, nonsense to suggest that a single cool clique is responsible for picking trends and tastes for the rest of us to follow.

What actually happens is that society evolves. People like things and nobody has any control over what or how trends evolve. People don’t choose to drink cortados rather than cappuccinos to be cool. Coffee is not a trend for superficial hipsters, it’s something humans actually like to do. And who would be so insecure that they would choose their favorite band not based on what they like, but because they see the band as “cool”?

Trends emerge out of the sum of people’s tastes. But it is interesting that we do converge on particular types of music, tastes and ideas – whether it’s the hunger for information on the internet, or being drawn to the sounds of breakout artists like Ice Age.

If these choices are subconscious and genuine but also shared, are we witnessing a type of social evolution in action? Our interests are constantly in motion and are never universal, but at some point some things are simply right. We agree that some things are moving the world ahead, in politics, in culture or in the arts.

Nature has no plans for mankind and the universe evolves randomly. But I do think there exists a nerve that – while not clearly defined or absolute – defines the future evolution of the homo sapiens sapiens. When you hit that nerve – that subconscious flux at the very tip of human evolution, the nerve of novelty – it is like standing at the edge of the universe. M


By Thomas Fleurquin

Thomas Dalvang Fleurquin is founder of the Distortion Festival and director of Nus/Nus.

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