I was in college when I saw the film “American Beauty” for the first time. I’ll never forget the overtly intending-to-be-artistic image of the floating plastic bag. It could have been artistic to someone who never sees “art” and beauty in their everyday experience, but for the thinkers and artists — those of us who see art everywhere, it was painfully twee.
Last night I saw the film “her” and similarly intended artistic images were rendered on screen. The film made one think – about our digital society and how our human relations are breaking down as we embrace each other less and our technology more. It both scared and fascinated me.
Prior to seeing the film, I was at a bar with friends. As we waited for our bill and gathered up our coats, I looked over my right shoulder at a man and woman sitting at a corner table having drinks with another couple. The presumed girlfriend was delicately palming her boyfriend’s black wallet and holding it up to her nose. Such an intimate gesture. Was she smelling the leather or smelling him? If you see the film, you’ll know why my mind later thought back to the couple; how a computer can supplant a human for some time, but never give us the olfactory intimacy and gorgeous complexity of in-person exchange.