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Pop Culture: RCA to Apple

February 3, 2018- December 2018

Furniture Gallery

Technology plays a key role in popular culture; it is what connects us to the rest of the world. For better or worse technology has helped lead the way for the news and entertainment industries, allowing society to see and hear what was happening on a global scale. RCA to Apple is a celebration and look at these technological advances. The exhibit is divided into two categories: sounds and sights.

Moments in life are built around songs. Movies and television shows have long used music and sound effects to trigger reactions before the viewer ever sees the action. Theme songs instantly put you in the mood of the movie or television show. When the needle of a turntable first hits the album, it creates anticipation.

Families once gathered around the radio listening to serialized programs like The Shadow (1930) and War of the Worlds (1938) but with televisions entering the home, they now gathered to watch legendary westerns like The Lone Ranger (1949) and the science fiction juggernaut Star Trek (1966). The iconic voice of Casey Kasem was easily recognizable as he welcomed us to American Top 40 (1970) on our radios each week. Portable radios that allowed us to listen to our favorite radio stations on the go, gave way to the Walkman that let us take our music collection with us. Now with Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora; those radio shows and music collections are in unlimited supply in the palm of our hands.

The sounds of technology also connect us to friends and family. The creation of the cell phone allowed us to talk to each other wherever we go. The sound of an answering machine message has now been replaced by a text tone. The connection to those closest to us not only grew, our connection to the rest of the world has gone from regional to global. Sound and technology go hand and hand.

The same part of the brain that is in charge of processing our senses is also responsible, at least in part, for storing emotional memories. We perceive up to 80 percent of all impressions by means of our sight. What used to be only available in movie theaters, became available in your home. Radio serials became television programs where action was no longer described, it was shown. During World War II we heard about the war via radio newscasts, newspapers, and news reports shown before movies in theaters; yet with the advent of the television, the Vietnam War came to our living rooms with the nightly news. What we once only heard, we now saw. Family time started to include television events from The Wonderful World of Disney (1954) to The Beatles live recording of All You Need is Love (1967). Families gathered around the television to join in the adventures of Gunsmoke (1955) or sing along to the intro of The Flintstones (1960). Television show finales became talking points the next day and led to speculation for the next season from who shot J.R. on Dallas (1980), to what does Addison showing up mean for Derek and Meredith on Grey’s Anatomy (2005). The Super Bowl turned from televised meeting of the two best teams in football to a full blown entertainment spectacle that has the largest viewing audience each year.

Sight not only changed programming it changed music. Musicians could now create music videos to tell the story of their songs. The creation of MTV (1981) brought music videos to the home and those videos became just as important as the song. Computers brought even more changes to what we could see. They have grown from word processors and analyzing data to now truly bringing the world to your fingertips. That technology led the creation of the smartphone where sight is even more integral. Not only can you watch television, videos, and news stories; you can connect to friends and family via a variety of video conferencing avenues.

Much like sounds, sights and technology go hand in hand.

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