Scholar Exhibits

Considering Our Tech-nostalgia

A hundred years ago nostalgia was thought to be a psychological affliction, something that had a pronounced impact on an individuals cognition and ability to function in everyday life. Typically associated with geographical displacement, nostalgia was (and to a certain degree still is) synonymous with longing and a sense of homesickness for ones "place" - figuratively and literally. Nowadays it is more likely to hear nostalgia uttered in conversations about missing a time that felt simpler, safer, and “better,” or in reminiscences of yesterdays technologies that offered a tangible interaction with its user and seemed “easier.” Herein lies the backbone of what has been referred to as technostalgia: the affinity for antiquated technologies and a desire to utilize both obsolete and modern technologies (hardware and software) to re-imagine, re-live, or outright emulate aspects of our collective history, particularly music and the visual arts. Real-life examples of tech-nostalgia’s impact on our popular culture can be seen in the myriad filters which allow for the masking of our digital photographs in veils of fauxhistory, and the use of audio manipulation programs to emulate aesthetics, such as vinyl record pops and hisses, associated with a bygone, analog-only era. With a revived interest in resurrecting and recreating the physical medium in the form of record players, rotary telephones, and obsolete computer hardware, the hope is to physically connect with the past and establish a tangibility so often lost in our wireless world. This serves to complicate the tech-nostalgia concept even further. In this collection I will explore the concept of tech-nostalgia and its ability to make the passé, popular and the imperfect, fashionable. I will also highlight the genre of electronic music called, hauntology, as a specific manifestation of tech-nostalgia. As technology and interconnectivity become more streamlined with our everyday lives we seem to be both attracted and resistant to staying afloat in a sea of rapid technological changes and development. This notion will help guide my examination into tech-nostalgia. Lastly, I hope to offer insight into how the tech-nostalgia idea could be offering archivists, conservators, and information professionals new ways of thinking about our moving image and sound heritage in the digital age.

This is one of the most extensive explorations into the recent trend of making digital photographs appear old – Photographs Nathan Jurgenson refers to in this article as faux-vintage.

Mark Pilkington’s article, “Hauntologists mine the past for music’s future” provides an accessible overview of the origins of hauntology – from philosophical concept to art form – while providing an ample does of specific examples in the form of embedded YouTube videos.

What Is Hauntology? Mark Fisher Film Quarterly Vol. 66, No. 1 (Fall 2012) (pp. 16-24) Mark Fisher (known as K-Punk in the blogosphere) is said to have first used the term hauntology within the context of art, specifically British electronic music, back in 2006. This article provides a more scholarly approach to the multilayered origins and subsequent interpretations of hauntology as a moving image and sound art form.

A fun Boston Globe article featuring over a dozen examples of “technology from yesterday” including photographs and brief descriptions.

Article synopsis provided by author John Tierney “It was first thought to be a ‘neurological disease of essentially demonic cause,’ but it turns out that nostalgia is good for your brain. And there’s science to prove it.”

Similar to the New York Times article by John Tierney, this Huffington Post piece by Jeanette Leardi argues for the neurological and emotional benefits of “feeling nostalgic.” Leardi also provides some inquisitive methods for making nostalgic tendencies work in day-to-day life.