Monday, March 3, 2008

The Mental Models We Create vs. Reality: Bach's Face

I received my Bachelor of Science in Jazz in 1989. I play piano and electric bass. I've enjoyed and performed my fair share of music composed by Bach. Up until today, my mental model of Bach were built upon those notes on the music page. The feelings evoked when playing certain passages that were obviously, well, Bach. Here, listen to this:

It was kind of strange to read a story today about how anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson has created a 3D model of Bach's head. More precisely, it was weird to see his face. I know that MTV forever changed how we connect music with imagery (not to mention affording the fame of Jessica Simpson, which I could have done without thank you very much), but I still wasn't prepared to see a Playstation-esque bust of Bach. Maybe I'm just becoming a curmudgeon, but it's hard for me to connect a cello suite to that...face (no offense, Johann).

It's so interesting to me how we create models or feelings of experiences in our heads. As a user experience designer it's easy to forget that most of the people we design software upgrades for have a strong connection to the previous experience in ways we probably we can't measure in pixels or clicks.

To anyone interested, here is some of my music (John Macaluso on drums, Rich Kern on Guitar and me on bass):

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