MAGAZINE ISSUE ONE
WHAT’S IN THE ... Page 6
Paper Chasing Collecting ephemera and other bits and pieces
Existential Nostalgia New designer Andrea Tsao talks about her first collection
From Britain,With Love Attic Magazine talks to Nicky Sherwood
Times Of Authenticity When does nostalgia lose its authentic touch?
Instalgia The life and love of a photo app
Out To Play? We look at how childhood has changed over time, and indulge in some personal recollections too
View Through A Lens Memorable moments from Attic Magazine’s recent trip to New York
From The Ladybird Library The classic children’s titles
Martin Miller A profile of the antiquities addict and his work
Tales Of Our Time A selection of films that evoke those feelings of growing up
The Future Of Nostalgia Attic Magazine muses on the changing focus of nostalgia
The Nose Knows How are senses stir up nostalgic feelings Afternoon At The Museum Spend a little time at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising Forget Me Not Take a look at we found in the Attic Analogue Technology What do old art forms mean to new designers
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publishers. © 2012 Attic Magazine/Attic Publishing. The views expressed in Attic are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the publisher or Attic Magazine. All words and images by Attic Magazine, unless otherwise credited.
EDITOR’S NOTE With thoughts of nostalgia come mixed feelings of happiness and yearning for times that once were. In Issue One of Attic Magazine you’ll find pieces focused on those nostalgic feelings, and pieces to get you thinking more about what nostalgia means and how it shapes modern society. Thinking back to days gone by, we often see the world through rose-hued glasses, but what conjures those memories and why do they affect us in various ways? Is what we have come to cherish now creating nostalgia for the future, or will we continue to look back to find times worth longing for? Taking notes from Attic’s first photo shoot, the highlights of forget-me-not blue in this issue remind us to always remember things from the past, with our features looking at different areas associated with nostalgia, and we hope you find them as evocative to read as we did to write them. There is something for everyone to reminisce over in this first issue, whether it’s memories of childhood, films that stir up those feelings or even a wandering trip around a museum, you’ll find a piece of nostalgia for yourself within these pages.
EDITOR & CREATIVE DIRECTOR KATARINA HJORTH Attic Magazine would like to thank the following people for their continued support and creative insight: Caroline, Søren and Louise Hjorth, Margaret Evans, Gunse Hjorth, Charlotte Lucas, James Bates, Imogen Neale, Nicola Cross, Margaret Geeling, Tiffany Phan, Robert de Niet, Paul Tierney, Jodie Jones, Laura Creamer, Daisy Rowell, Lorna Hatch, Rob Jones and all interviewees, contributors and helping hands. Contact details: Email - firstname.lastname@example.org Attic contact email - email@example.com Address - 2 The Glebe, Lewknor, Oxon, OX49 5TZ Twitter - @katarinahjorth
PAPER CHASING While some collectors strive to acquire rare and extraordinary objects, many of us keep hold of more mundane items building our own collections of personal ephemera that tell stories from the past. Perhaps it starts with a corkboard on the wall – the unconscious act of delving into coat pockets to pin up tickets or a postcard sent by a friend visiting warmer climes. Once it’s there you might walk past it everyday not taking much notice but this type of collection process becomes difficult to stop once it has begun.
paper basket after use, everything printed which is not actually a book.” The modern day equivalent of collecting sizeable amounts of visual inspiration has been transformed through sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest. Allowing users to pin, reblog, tag and link all sorts of images and text, the sites are a way of collating what we find stimulating, useful and amusing and creating boards and microblogs dedicated to online ephemera. It’s not quite the same as holding a ticket in your hands but sharing our likes, loves and collections with others is now easier than ever before.
The act of collecting ephemera is in itself effortless. From just one day any number of odd bits of paper, cards and other seemingly unimportant items can be accumulated, creating a snapshot of that day or a particular moment in time. Although they’re not intended to last for more than a limited period, for one reason or another we hold onto them as keepsakes of things we would like to remember.Ticket stubs, flyers, notes, labels – an endless list of unremarkable items that combined, probably tell stories better than any written words. The visual and tactile reminders produce a personal form of nostalgia, triggering memories of day trips, holidays or just a well-spent afternoon.
There is still, however, just as much focus on the physical side to warrant the enthusiasm of many people and successful areas of study. “Printed ephemera can be found everywhere, it’s all around us,” declares Michael Twyman, Professor and Director of the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading. Since attitudes towards graphic arts began to shift in the 1960s, Twyman has inspired and indulged his own love of printed-paper. The creation of the Typography and Graphic Communication course – known to be the first of its kind – paved the way for an academic approach to collecting and preserving ephemera of the past, and the work of the students he taught. “The relationship between printed language and society changed; we saw student revolution and the need for good design to accommodate the rethinking of artistic and creative education,” he explains. “Now we have this physical form of nostalgia to look back on from that time – and it tells us a lot about society.” We can see that collected ephemera puts into context what is happening at a particular point in time as it was created for just that, a specific moment or event. “We should collect, but not for collecting’s sake,” he muses, “for a point of self-reference and education, as well as personal interest and satisfaction.”
And it’s not only personal ephemera that has a lasting effect. Reprints and reproductions can be found almost anywhere, from classic film posters to iconic ad campaigns.We’ve all seen them and as commonplace as they have become, there is still a certain charm surrounding oldfashioned fonts and muted shades. As collections of past ephemera go, English collector John Johnson is most noteworthy. While working at the University of Oxford in the early 1900s, Johnson gathered a vast array of paper ‘scraps’ that has been catalogued and on display at the Bodleian Library in Oxford since 1968. Ranging from theatrical and political flyers to exhibition prints, sports cuttings and crime reports, the 65,000 items represent Johnson’s meticulous archiving of day-to-day printed papers. In his own words, “it is everything which would ordinarily go into the waste -7-
“Collecting on a personal level allows us to forge connections to the past with what we find in the present, and then preserve these objects for the future.” “It is the lithographic prints – and then later chromolithography, in colour – that I find exciting, the things that were available to more people in the early days as they were relatively less expensive to come by, and they jollied up life,” says the professor when asked about his favourite pieces. Now we might all decorate our walls with posters and prints, but as Twyman puts it, the older methods were desktop printing before its time and helped to bring the printed work to a wider community.
“since collectors are defined by their collections.” He looks back into his childhood and growing up, the book in itself a collection of memories as one might hope to find in an autobiography. When asked about the birth of a collection, King remarks that “there may be half a dozen master narratives of how collecting begins”, listing inheritance and findings, discovering the self-enlargement possibilities of investment, extension of one’s self-fashioning and wishing to be part of a (non-literal) club. He placed nostalgia at the end of the list, though perhaps not intentionally.
With the prominence of seeing collections in museums and galleries, we know that it is an important part of life on varying levels. Chinese artist Song Dong has dedicated an entire exhibition based around the collection of those things that wouldn’t normally mean much to anyone else. Currently housed at the Barbican Centre in London, the 10,000 household objects and family possessions were kept by his mother since the 1950s. As a tribute to her memory, Song Dong has painstakingly arranged every item – from linens and clothes to plastic bottles, record players and cardboard packaging – to represent the Chinese saying wu jin qi yong meaning ‘waste not’; the title of the installation at the Curve gallery. Over a lifetime there are so many things we accumulate often of no more worth than their original purpose, but displayed in such a way that they exhibit someone’s life, what would typically be thrown away tells a very personal story. It is this kind of collection that, although not worth as much in pounds and pence, feeds our nostalgic feelings reminding us of times, and people, that have passed.
The act and art of collecting can be a way of organising one part of the many jumbled parts of life. Taking control of something, even if it is only small found objects or loose bits of paper, is simply a method of finding “order in things” and “virtue in preservation”, as King, a Professor of Theatre Studies at University of California describes. If those things have meaning then all the better, but on a personal level they allow us to forge connections to the past with what we find in the present, and then preserve these objects and collections for the future. On a grander scale, the collections found in museums around the world present visitors with more historical and cultural artefacts, which although less personal still tell us tales from the past. “The teacher, the scholar, the curious man in me feels gratitude to the museums,” he explains, “but I feel there is always a loss when a collection loses its collector, however I do not fault collectors for seeking an institutional outlet. The alternative – dispersal – is even sadder.”
For author William Davies King, collecting what seemed to be nothing grew into the title of his own memoirs. First published in 2008, Collections of Nothing offers an insight into the American professor’s collecting world – from the beginning when his godmother presented him with a stamp collection at the age of 11, to his continually growing collections of everyday objects and reflections on what it means to be a collector. “No collector is exactly like any other,” he asserts in the book,
There will always be a reason to collect those things that are important. Whether they have sentimental attachments, add to educational resources or perhaps manage to increase in value over time, their preservation acts as a reminder of moments in time that have passed. Keeping hold of keepsakes, however large or small the collection, is one way to give in to nostalgic feelings and as John Johnson said of his own collection, “nothing is too humble or too insignificant.” -8-
FROM BRITAIN, WITH LOVE “We’re not a nation to fly our flag outside our homes on a flag pole, we more shine our light under a bushel, but I think now we are really into being proud of Britain,” – Nicky Sherwood Britain, it can be said, has a lot to be nostalgic for. We’ve built ourselves back up through times of difficulty, inspired lasting trends and great creative minds and expressed a renewed appreciation for the modern monarchy. This year – with the anniversaries and events like the Olympics taking place – looks set to stay in the hearts and minds of the nation and all that take part. There is much to be proud of and to store in our memories from recent years and over the next coming months, something Nicky Sherwood of From Britain With Love knows will help to continue the love of all things great and British. Her popular website features news, guides and her blog and here she talks to Attic Magazine about showcasing the best of buying from home shores.
place where you could bring all these people together and show off their work.
AM: Has the maker and consumer feeling changed in Britain so now we are more drawn to things that are handmade, with a story to accompany the individual design and products?
AM: Your manifesto includes mottos such as ‘Create an heirloom’ and ‘Turn old things into new’, are we more likely to get attached to those things with a bit of feeling behind them?
Nicky: Absolutely, and that was one of the reasons I started the website. In my previous job I was meeting lots of creative people who were making products here in this country, and they all had great stories to tell. Quite a few of them had, in some way, come through a time of hardship and were setting up resourceful side projects and I felt that there needed to be a
Nicky: There are obviously heirlooms that you inherit and things that you want to keep from the past that are sentimental. It’s a great idea creating heirlooms for the future – something you make today that can be passed down to children and grandchildren, rather than this whole culture of very disposable products that last only a season and are then thrown
AM: Do you think of Britain as a nostalgic nation, one that will search for and buy into what is more memorable? Nicky: I think that people, especially during recession, like to hark back to a balmier, simpler time somehow, and this could be through buying things from the past or even the resurgence of British beach holidays and camping, things like that. We do like to see things with a rosy-glow; the recent popularity of wartime slogans makes us feel like we can all pull together even if times are tough, and see things with nostalgia in mind.
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away. The attachment isn’t to things that so quickly go out of fashion. I think I have always been quite into nostalgia. Having been fond of collecting antiques and things with a bit of age and character, they’re preferable to something gaudy and new. It’s been very nice to see, since launching the site two years ago, how many other people feel the same and want to take pride in Britain and what we have to offer – as if we’re flying our flag. I feel like the Union Jack has even become a bit of a design icon and with the Olympics this year we’ll be able to see it everywhere. AM: What about the other side to these feelings of national nostalgia? Nicky: I don’t know if it will get to the stage where we’re a bit sick of it but it certainly seems to be having its moment.We’ll look back in a few in a few years time and remember this was an important time in everyone’s lives – but you could look at the flipside and see it’s all a bit sugar-coated. Having said that though, I think people like to take the nice bits and the old things to remember – the romantic parts and we like to have a reason to celebrate. Find out more about Nicky and visit the website at frombritainwithlove.com
choose handmade & homemade
enjoy simple pleasures 7
MEET YOUR MAKERS
LEARN A CRAFT
GET MUCKY CHOOSE QUALITY
COLLABORATE SHARE THE LOVE 7
TURN OLD THINGS INTO NEW HOLIDAY AT HOME
LOVE EACH DAY
GROW YOUR OWN Manifesto created by Aardvark for
From Britain With Love Manifesto designed by Aardvark. Visit aardvarkonsea.com - 11 -
INSTALGIA “Everything exists to end in a photograph,” - Susan Sontag Taking inspiration from the aged effects of old photographs, the trend for mobile apps and their continuous stream of rose-tinted images has brought nostalgic photography right up to date. But are we losing the authenticity of the image if it’s only to gain more likes, or are we purely creating instant memories for ourselves in a fast-moving world? Susan Sontag, American novelist, once said that “everything exists to end in a photograph”, a phrase that seems as relevant now as it did when it was first written. There is a word to describe something that has the look of the old but is in fact quite new – a skeuomorph or skeuomorphism. Essentially, when an item includes a decorative feature that likens it to the traditional look but that actually serves no purpose, it becomes a skeuomorph – printed wood grain on a modern object now made of plastic for instance. The blurred outlines and muted tones created by new technology to enhance photos taken on a smartphone are an ever-present example of skeuomorphism. We see them everyday in our newsfeeds and updates on social networking sites, where they are posted by a new generation of instant photographers. They mimic the look of old photography, even down to the film reel edges and square, Polaroid-esque shape. The images produced using Instagram, and other photo-enhancing apps, beautify what might potentially be a dull image or subject, something we have seen many times before. “Have you seen the sunset?” they ask as the day comes to a close – “check out the amazing breakfast I just made”, is the greeting next morning. As Nathan Jurgenson, social media theorist and cofounder of the Cyborgology blog, explains, “taking a photo of your breakfast didn’t make sense before the abundance of digital photography – we noticed our breakfast, but now we are noticing things differently.” There’s a photo app for every moment, and the filters and adjustments are turning users’ personal snaps into a different kind of nostalgia, one that is shared between us during the next tea break. It’s easy to see why thoughts and images of the past bring people together and get us talking. Places we’ve visited, childhood memories and the first - 12 -
notes of a forgotten tune can spread a smile across the most sullen of faces. There’s nothing like a bit of nostalgia to unite our feelings with friends and even perfect strangers. With the sharing facilities available we can access others’ sepia-toned photos, reminding us of old pictures from weathered albums tucked away on the shelf. But it doesn’t stop at the online community – as the popularity grows, more and more users are joining together in person on regular photo-meets. InstaMeets, as they’re affectionately known, began with a few users taking the time to get together and share their photography skills and interests. Instagram – the most popular app and available on the iPhone – has developed its content to include filters named Earlybird, Nashville and Inkwell, all with the old-fashioned aesthetic of classic photography and coined the Instameets term to promote itself further, bringing people together at the same time. The InstaMeets have grown to include worldwide photowalks throughout the year and other independent meet-ups in cities around the globe. And Instagram’s recent acquisition by Facebook, the main player in all that is social media, has added a new dimension to the appeal of posting and sharing photos. “With the support and cross-pollination of ideas and talent at a place like Facebook,” writes Kevin Systrom, CEO, on the Instagram blog, “we hope to create an even more exciting future for both companies alike.” There is a sense that, when taking a photo with these apps, we must produce something effortless and without much thought – but it shows that we are more thoughtful than ever with regards to the content and image produced. Photos taken using a smartphone app retain their appeal due to their ease and accessibility. We no longer need to be skilled in editing software and possess a photography degree to capture inspired photos – or have the means of mass publishing to get our pictures noticed. With the use of online platforms for self-publication – Instagram itself, Flickr, social networking sites – users are able to show their photos to a wider audience, and gain followers who can track their every move through their uploaded images. It could be said that we are giving into this new form of personal promotion, living our lives through a camera lens and picking images and compositions that allow our others to see us
at our best and most appealing. “We will never reveal all,” says Jurgenson, “it’s more like a fan-dance, a game of strategic reveal and conceal.” Referring to the posting of personal information online, he also notes that the screen “always contains only a partial story”, with the photos that are shared displaying the elements that are more visually seductive. With the heightened awareness of our surroundings as potential lifestyle documentation, so comes a more sensitive awareness of ourselves and those situations. As conspicuous users of social media, it can be said that we are forever conscious of how our lives are played out on different websites and online platforms. The selection process for updates, tags and photos of all kinds has educated us to what we can – and can’t or won’t – allow to be publicly viewed by others online, whether they are close friends or not. “I’ve been trained to see the world in terms of what I can post to the Internet,” Jurgenson explains, “I’ve learned to live and present a life that is ‘likeable’.” Writing for The Atlantic, he goes on to say that “social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others”, an inherently true statement that we can all relate to. We generate more ‘likes’ and an inflated sense of social status with popular updates, though perhaps only for a short while until the next attention-grabbing photo is uploaded. As we increasingly see the world through a viewfinder – citing self and social-awareness as driving factors – we need to remember to live in the moment, not remember it through a captured, enhanced image, as pretty and idealised as they might be.
Images courtesy of Jodie Jones and Instagram
If we are to continue the cycle of social media updates and self-aware photography, we can expect to find it becoming a bit stale and obvious. As the modern way of expressing individuality is pinned down by the shutter-click skeuomorph of our camera phone, we are moving away from personal memories to ones we capture purely for our newsfeeds, awaiting a newly developed filter with which to enhance our photos once again. - 13 -
A VIEW THROUGH THE LENS
Our own instalgia... With instant nostalgia in mind, Attic Magazine’s recent trip to New York included a lot of time spent taking photos of all sorts of memorable situations. Subway signs, vanilla milkshakes, yellow cabs and tree-lined streets – all typically New York experiences and all taken with a typical camera-eye that we’ve grown accustomed to. Using software to enhance and alter the original images, these are the photos that were chosen for their subjects and compositions. With the use of digital photography –
and a huge memory card – all our trips can be documented in visual form to later be edited and shown off to the world. Observing the world through a viewfinder and picking the most appealing imagery has worn off on the Attic Magazine photographer, and this selection highlights our travels and what we saw as memorable, Instagram worthy moments.
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OAK - Bond Street
42nd Street Station
Bookmarc, Bleeker Street
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â€œWhen nothing else subsists from the past, after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain poised for a long time, like souls; bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory,â€? â€“ Marcel Proust, The Remembrance Of Things Past
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THE NOSE KNOWS Often described as the most powerful of human senses, smell has the ability to transport us back in time with just the faintest trace of a scent. It can lift us up or get us down, playing with our emotions by creating links to the past that conjure memories of our encounters with a particular smell. As children we are exposed to the most new smells, as everything around us is typically unknown. Of course, this can be different for everybody but when we talk about sensory nostalgia in this way it frequently relates to a strong childhood memory or first experience. Something like the smell of chlorine can make us think of summer holidays playing by the pool, or a subtle spray of perfume can remind us of someone we’ve lost. Our sense of smell can stir up the most primitive of emotions, but how does our nose know of these feelings? It all comes down to the olfactory system. Receptors in the system pick up smells and odours that we breathe in, and the signal passes through the olfactory nerve and into the olfactory bulb. This is linked to the central nervous system and the part of our brain that is connected to emotions and memory – the
limbic system. So, when we come across those smells that have meaning or relate to a specific time or place, our limbic system perks up and we can be surrounded by those memories in an instant, even if the other senses are still very much in the present. Like a scented mental note we are fated to remember, one of the strongest sources for nostalgia can be found within the body itself. These feelings of association by smell can cover the spectrum of emotions of any human being, from happiness and joy to anger and deep sadness. And not all smells affect each of us in the same way – what might be a cheerful memory of petrol (family trips or dads tinkering around with cars) can leave others feeling less than content if their system connects that smell to an unpleasant time in the past. As individuals we know which scents we like, and which we don’t, and it is the identification of these smells within the brain that triggers a change in mood or feelings of nostalgia. As we grow, we might come across particular smells on a regular basis or perhaps they might be hard to find – but they have the ability to remove us from the present moment and transport the mind, if not the body, back into memories of the past. - 17 -
A Personal Recollection There is one scent that has the power to catch me completely off guard if I ever come across it in an unrelated situation. Back at my Grandmother’s – or Bedstemor’s as we’re talking family – house in Denmark there is a shrub that has always grown outside the front door. Named the winter gem boxwood, its evergreen leaves have always fascinated me, and I often pick a few to carry the scent around with me for a little while. It’s a strong, leafy smell and although I may not be thinking at all about Denmark or her little house or my family at the time, if I walk past one of these bushes or find myself stood near one I am instantly back there, ringing the bell at her front door. The memories evoked by the boxy green plant are both happy and sad – like the arrivals and departures lounge of Copenhagen airport, I am either beginning or ending my stay with my Bedstemor when that smell takes over my senses.
AFTERNOON AT THE MUSEUM The two gentlemen pace briskly across the pavement towards the glass doors, the dimmed bulbs causing them to squint as they step inside. As their eyes adjust to the change in light their new surroundings begin to come into focus – piled up boxes and carefully displayed artefacts, each an original item from the Robert Opie Collection.
sound of the gramophone at their Grandparents’ house. Now and then a particular item catches their eye, as if it’s a glimpse into their own past now housed in the walls of the museum.They remark on the Pears Soap packaging simultaneously, chuckling about the instant reminder of bath times growing up.
Arranged decade-by-decade, the items tell the story of how visual branding has developed over the last century or so. As the visitors wander through the darkened rooms the men stop to take in the contents, noting on the familiar lettering or an article they remember from the past. Reaching the First World War cabinet they pause to reminisce. “I remember my Grandfather told me he lied about his age to go to war, he was too young when it started. He said back then more people signed up out of choice, they wanted to enlist and fight for their country.”
The next family are quicker to make their way through the displays, the younger ones speeding along trying to find the items they know. They chatter away together in Swedish, and when asked where they’re from they politely reply, but must keep going as the boys have found an image of Mickey Mouse up ahead. Interspersed in their conversation are snippets of English, usually names and words without a translation.
Walking through the museum and its curiously cluttered display rooms, more and more anecdotes slip from their trails of thought into voiced memories. They remember the smell of their Fathers’ cigarettes, the
They stand at the sweets cabinet for a long time, each family member commenting on something they recall fondly, and the real meaning of this kind of nostalgia becomes apparent. Memories of the past transcend language barriers and pass over country borders. The universal appreciation of our memories stays with us and brings us together, even in the dimly lit corridors of a West London museum.
Find out more about the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising at museumofbrands.com
Image courtesy of Jamie Barras
FORGET ME NOT A collection of found objects, sentimental ephemera and nostalgic artefacts from the Attic Photography by James Bates and Attic Magazine
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ANALOGUE TECHNOLOGY “I joined the revolution many years ago. I have been scanning my darkroom prints for years, emailing them to people, building websites to showcase my work, texting and tweeting about my latest projects and images. I have done it while my iPod played hundreds of albums to me in the darkroom – once I had draped it with black cloth to stop it lighting up the darkroom and fogging all my paper…” Toby Deveson recalls his own merging of analogue and digital technology, something we have grown accustomed to in these fast-moving times. The lines between the formats have become blurred – there are those who protest the need to keep classic methods alive, holding onto their vinyl records and 35mm film, and those who celebrate the new developments and ease of use that digital has to offer, but to make the most of it all an equality between the two has become a necessity.
have corresponding strengths and weaknesses, analogue and digital, they are almost Ying and Yang – one would be lost without the other.” The photographer would like to see a celebration of the two mediums and what they can do, something the creative industries continually support with dalliances between the love of the handcrafted and awe at the power of new technologies. “I believe we should avoid creating an ‘us and them’ climate,” he explains, “and for me, I have embraced the digital revolution and taken full advantage. But only on my terms.”
Deveson is a mixture of both. As a photographer he uses the old format he was taught and has become attached to, and promotes his work and cause online through his website, twitter profile and blogs, scanning in the images to reach a wider audience. Although he has felt pressure to switch to digital photography, the headstrong artist has continued to work solely with his Nikkormat camera and darkroom to take and develop pictures. Speaking from the creative Doo Dah blog, Deveson explains that he is “basically a creature of habit – not because I don’t like change but because I have a voice I was lucky enough to have found early on.”
The Analogue exhibition recently curated by Collate Presents at the Artist Residence hotel in Brighton pays homage to local photographers, and has drawn in a variety of other creative types too. Anthony Peters, creator of Imeus Design, produced the illustrations and masthead for the exhibition website, and as a contemporary graphic designer he still finds enjoyment and inspiration in old-fashioned technology. “I have a nostalgic relationship with each of the items I designed for the Analogue piece, and they all make for very clearly understandable graphic reductions.” Among the images he created for the show, which has been organised by the curatorial team at Collate Presents, are a Polaroid Land Camera, retro yellow Walkman and an instantly recognisable Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter – all seemingly old-fashioned but highly covetable. “The key thing they share is their lack of reliance on a larger system – they all work out of the box, no need for a computer or internet to get them going.”
As anyone who has developed their own photography film will know, there are limitations and hazards that come with the chemical solutions and processes of producing photos in a darkroom. “Nursing an image through the pitfalls and seeing the final print – watching it pulsate with life, light, memory, subtlety and magic – these experiences cannot be replaced with convenience or speed,” says Deveson, an alchemist of this traditional craft. There is nostalgia to be found in this type of drawn-out practice. Working in the ways of the old, honing what might become a lost set of skills but still learning and approaching the methods with fresh eyes, this is what will keep analogue photography going. “They
Anthony goes on to describe how the items have now been reduced to nostalgic novelty because “they are neither practical nor efficient”, but this doesn’t stop the public’s - 30 -
interest and collectors and designers integrating them into their work. “I have a Numark turntable which gets plenty of usage from the many piles of records that fill the shelves in my office – I love the artwork, the sleeve notes and the fact that the second hand records give away clues as to the previous owner.” It’s true that now most of the things that take up shelf space (often as a form of personal display and taste) such as records, CDs and books have found their way onto smaller devices, and now – as the designer says – we have a much less diverse collection of forms and objects within our daily life. “You can imagine a post apocalyptic archaeologist of the future discovering the remains of a 21st century village, in which dig sites only contain cutlery and basic household items,” he ponders in his own extract from the Doo Dah blog. “The minimalist objects whose batteries have long since corroded, objects which appear to have no function at all, and which have important information and documentation of the time stored away forever within their shiny exteriors.” And what might a present-day graphic designer leave in a time capsule for future artists to find? “I think many of the items from the Analogue poster are things I would save for the future, and along with those I’d put a copy of Design As Art by Bruno Munari, Ways Of Seeing by John Berger, a 2B pencil and a 130gsm A3 sketchpad.” Find out more about Toby’s work at tobydeveson.com and see Anthony’s latest graphic design work at imeusdesign.co.uk
All images courtesy of Anthony Peters and Imeus Design - 31 -
EXISTENTIAL NOSTALGIA For fashion to be nostalgic often it has to travel down vintage avenues, searching for the perfectly fitted fifties dress or the broad and long silhouette of men’s 1940s suits.With a more contemporary point of view, graduating design student Andrea Tsao has approached the idea of a nostalgic collection based on the term ‘existential migration’, and how this can be translated into modern menswear for her final thesis. “I’ve been inspired by the idea of existential migration, a so-called phenomenon in young people that researchers have been looking into,” Andrea explains, noting that people are constantly on the move, carrying their valuables with them without a permanent home. Stemming from interactions between herself and her peers, the Parsons New School for Design student observed that many felt a loss of identity within one place, one culture or one time and she developed this with research into notions of wanderlust and the choice to always be on the move. “Home is less and less about a physical place – more about the experiences one has from day-to-day.”
he has himself experienced this kind of longing and unfulfilled identity throughout life. His research – and subsequent written analysis – takes a personal tone from the start with an academic view as to whether there is something to discover at all from this act of leaving. A trip to India with a friend became the catalytic moment, an early morning venture onto the rooftop signalling a shift in perspective. “There was something in this colourful and chaotic foreignness that enthralled me, and we both began to wonder why we felt what we felt, sat on that rooftop in the Calcutta morning light.”
Dr Greg Madison first coined the term during the time he spent researching and writing his academic text Existential Analysis. Later, in his book The End of Belonging, Madison presented the theory to a wider audience and those who might be considered existential migrants themselves. “Individuals who choose to leave their homeland to become foreigners in a new culture,” as Madison describes in his text, “reveal consistently deep themes and motivations which could convincingly be labelled existential.” He ascertained that it wasn’t for career progression or general lifestyle improvement that these migrants were moving away, and that the reasons behind the decisions made were more profound. Seeking greater possibilities for self-actualising, exploring foreign cultures in order to assess one’s own identity and ultimately grappling with issues of home and belonging in the world – these were the driving factors from his observations of the existential concept. “The substance of the book was uncovered quite by accident,” explains Madison, a Counselling Psychologist currently practicing in London and Brighton. “The results of in-depth interviews as part of an original research project culminated in the new term ‘existential migration’,” he points out in the introductory passage of The End of Belonging, “and the book is based upon the actual accounts of the twenty people who had chosen to leave home and live in a foreign country.” Madison admits that
To develop her own thesis from initial concept to finished product, Andrea found herself looking into novels such as On the Road and Into the Wild as part of her research. “I was looking into what it’s really like to be homeless in this sense, and to never fully embrace one place as home,” she explains. With the film release of On the Road later this year, Jack Kerouac’s seminal work of the beat-generation – the first existential youth movement – will open the eyes of more young people to their own feelings of belonging. The nostalgic aspect of Andrea’s work developed from the original meaning – severe homesickness and a great yearning for home and family. In the past nostalgia was diagnosed as a medical condition, but has grown in more modern times to be seen as a longing for the past and wandering trips down memory lane. For Andrea though, the idea of homesickness helped her to develop her ideas and create a character that will tell her story. “It revolves around a guy I like to call my backpack-carrying protagonist – a story is timeless, and a protagonist you don’t necessarily have to like so long as your collection has personality and a statement to make,” explains the soon-to-be graduate. With this as a design starting point, she constructed her ideas into the finished collection. “Mastering and personalizing the design process is a sacred rite of passage for anyone looking to create something tangible, but I’m often accused of being somewhat old-fashioned with my own practices,” Andrea says. “I know that nowadays mock-ups are done on
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This page - one of Andrea’s many moodboards. Previous page and facing page - Andrea’s final collection looks
“I wanted to mix and match a lot of fabrics in the same garment – it reflects who this person is and their level of indecision.” computers, making it easier to produce variations in garment design, but that’s just not for me – I like to have the fabrications, the sketches and the photos all my hands.” Describing her collection as an eclectic mix of home décor fabrics and outdoorsy silhouettes, the final thesis work brings together a diverse mix of materials and tactile, practical elements. Included in her portfolio and presentational pieces is an oversized padded parka coat in a rich burgundy shade with quilted lining and large back pocket detail, a pair of tweed cargo trousers patched up in the wrong-side and right-side of the material and a fisherman’s vest with various pockets and tapestry fabric, adding to the combination of textiles. “I wanted to mix and match a lot of fabrics in the same garment, as in the patchwork pieces and different panels – it reflects who this person is and their level of indecision.” The stand out item created for her final year work is the backpack built to hold all the items and carry all the wearer’s garments and belongings. “Essentially I am creating a ‘home’ for my existential migrant and his trip across the land.” - 34 -
Many of the pieces in Andrea’s collection highlight the uncertainty of these feelings, seen in the patchwork garments and unstitched hems – a conscious decision made by the designer.“I love the idea of the raw edge, I think it’s a great addition to the story,” she concludes in her presentation. When seen up close it doesn’t feel as if she is making a justification for this creative element either – the un-cuffed, almost unfinished quality is far more suited to the aesthetic, and the character’s perception of himself.The clothes themselves feel robust, as if they will stand the test of time for the wearer, serving his nomadic lifestyle and accompanying him on his travels.The function of the garments is easy to see – warmth in the woollen sweaters, numerous pockets for all those items the wearer might collect along the way – and Andrea’s thought process is clearly defined within each piece and the collection when together as a whole. “I found that nostalgia was one of my starting points too,” she recalls, “it can be tricky though especially as nostalgia is so personal, but with menswear I feel I can focus on the fabrication and small details and this has become the natural extension of myself through my work.”
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Image by Bruce McCall
TIMES OF AUTHENTICITY “Suffused with nostalgia, which can be described as a state of longing for something that is known to be irretrievable, but is sought anyway,” – Pam Cook, Screening The Past Singling out a definition of the ever-changing times we live in is not an easy thing to do. Even the name of the current decade has yet to be pinned down. The consumable and the disposable have in many ways become the definitive norm – the authenticity of the things that fill our lives has come under threat as more and more we give into the quick fix, the new fad. It is important to stay on top of things, to be up-to-date and keep the pace, and those who don’t are often branded old-fashioned. But nostalgia for a past time, one that was experienced firsthand or built up from social memories, is one interpretation of authenticity. Keeping those things alive that were once popular is saving our disposability one antique find at a time. A different way of looking at this is the idea of faux-nostalgia – of a yearning for a time that never happened or was never actually known. Seeing the world through old photographs – maybe of those close to us or with significant meaning – can open our eyes to the notion of imaginary nostalgia. Made-up memories of events that were never experienced, and even trying to dress and act the part, are a pastiche
drawn only from secondhand feelings and unknown sentiment. Is this where nostalgia becomes contrived? Perhaps, with the sad fact being those times have passed and no amount of will and want can truly make them real again. A fragmented view of what has happened before our time is how most see the world, but those who choose to replicate it in different ways do so by reassembling the parts they know, with the parts that they have been exposed to and cultural memories that continue to be stereotypical of a particular time. This isn’t authentic nostalgia, but invented whimsy and longing for something that might never have been. Earlier this year Kurt Anderson, writing for Vanity Fair, came to the conclusion that, “in this thrilling but disconcerting time of technological and other disruptions, people are comforted by a world that at least still looks the way it did in the past.” His focus was on America and its current social and design aesthetic – one that is finding more inspiration from the past than trying for innovation and new concepts. This being said, it can be transposed onto most modern and developed ways, knowing that consumers are enticed by the look of the old, even if they surround themselves with - 36 -
all that is new. Nostalgia sells, and though it may seem like there is nothing original, the greatest forms of inspiration are often that of the greats who’ve come before. Finding insight from previous decades and reincarnating this for modern times helps to make the transition more comfortable. As trend theorist Danielle Meder of Final Fashion explains, “the familiar past already has a library of silhouettes, details and social signifiers to reference and backwardfacing design, though limiting, is much easier than exploring new territory.” For a look to future nostalgia, artist and author Bruce McCall takes the concept of ‘retro futurism’ with a colourful view and a witty smile. A frequent contributor in The New Yorker magazine, he depicts what the world might be like years from now, and his illustrative pieces have the feel of old-fashioned posters, except they include flying cars and brightly coloured industrial machines.The future paradises – filled with robots and vehicles that cater to a family’s every need – may not seem so revolutionary now, but the sense of nostalgia they provide acts as a suggestion to the importance of such evocative leanings whether for the past, or in McCall’s case, a tongue-in-cheek look at a nostalgic future.
OUT TO PLAY? Our childhood years bear greater memories than perhaps any other times in life – we learn, we grow and we experience things we will remember long into the future. Over time it has changed to keep up with new developments and what it means to be a child in modern society. Whether it’s playing outside with friends, taking family trips to familiar destinations or even time just spent painting pictures of the ideas in our heads, memories of childhood often have a common theme of fun and enjoyment, of a time with much less worry. The world was a new and exciting place, where everyday could be an adventure and a chance to create fond memories that will stay with us longer than just that afternoon. To showcase the importance of childhood and images of how it has transformed over time, the Museum of Childhood in London has put together a display including installation pieces made by local school pupils. The exhibition – which runs until November – has been organised by the museum’s Community Development Officer Teresa Hare Duke working alongside other members of staff and the schoolchildren who took part in workshops. “With the pupils from Cayley Primary School and Morpeth Secondary School here in London,” explains Teresa, “we designed and put together art installations of their imaginary play spaces.” These spaces have been created within three oversized white boxes in the front room of the museum, and are filled with the faces and excitement of a fantasy football match and a tropical fantasy room complete with leaves, feathers and a magic carpet. There is more to the exhibition than the imaginary play environments, but these are an important starting point for the Playing In or Out display. One of the main objectives was to explore how childhood varies decadeby-decade and build awareness of the importance of indoor and outdoor play. Through the museum’s investigation, and that of campaign groups such a Play England and The Children’s Society, it has been found that there are concerns about the decline in the amount of time devoted to play. Whereas children in previous eras were able to roam freely (within reason) around the places they were growing up, now they are much more likely to be found at a games console than climbing a tree. So the display asks, are kids today deprived of the outdoor adventures of previous generations? - 38 -
My own childhood was spent in the village I have always called home. A quiet place with plenty of fields and lanes to play in, with the friends that lived a few houses away and although we were allowed to be outdoors as much as we liked, there was always the watchful eye of someone looking out for us. The motorway nearby was probably the only danger we saw at the time, and of course we were told of the dangers of playing with traffic. Perhaps this is the idea of an idyllic childhood in the countryside, and far different to that of growing up in a large town or city where the roads and built up areas are often no-go places. With this in mind, organisers at Playing Out – a Bristol-based non-profit resource – have been working to create safer environments for children living in cities and busy urban areas. By arranging child-led street play with minimal adult supervision and limited access for cars, Alice Ferguson and Amy Rose paved the way for more children to experience their own playing out time on the roads where they live.“Over the past few decades it has become generally accepted that roads are for cars and the idea of residential streets as play spaces has virtually disappeared,” they assess in their latest report, “but after the events we’ve held, the overwhelming sense from the children was one of immediate joy and freedom at being given the chance to play in the street.” So it seems their initiative is having a positive effect, although currently only on a small scale. As a creative side project to the Playing Out events Amy also works on Write Up Your Street, a collection of temporary writings evoking memories of childhood play. These are temporary in the most childish sense too – using chalks, she and other participants wrote out their reminiscences on the cobbles and red brick walls, until the weather or human contact cleaned them away. What is a basic way for children to express their creativity on the pavement became a memory-driven exercise for adults to think back into the past and remember what they enjoyed about playing outside, making friends and enjoying the time spent in their own neighbourhood.
Previous page and this page: 1960s and 1980s images from the Colin O’Brien Archive shown at the Museum of Childhood
Memories of childhood are primarily formed during time spent playing indoors and out. These are the times we will be nostalgic for when we’re older, perhaps through our own children or small reminders that trigger wandering childhood thoughts. The Children’s Society gathered the memories of over 30,000, cross-generational people to build up a picture of childhood over the years. They found that out of all the collected memories shared and written up by the public, and a handful of celebrities, the word ‘play’ appeared most often. The simple pleasure of playing, whether on one’s own or with friends as part of a group, stood out as the key activity that occurred in memories of childhood.The Hundreds and Thousands of Childhood Memories campaign and report aimed to see what could be learned from past experiences, to add to the ongoing Good Childhood Inquiry, now published as a book. As part of its findings, the inquiry says “excessive individualism is causing a range of problems for children”, and although freedom and self-determination may bring many blessings, the balance has tilted more towards this individualism. The memories collected tell of the more enjoyable stories of childhood, but for many growing up in modern society the pressures and problems they face lead to a less than ideal time for being young and carefree. The use of technology and electronic gadgets does have educational and social benefits – children grasp the basics of the technologies that will help them in school and stay in touch with friends and relatives, but so much time spent doing this is hindering their time for more physical playful experiences. The memories of older generations tell a very different story, of a less supervised upbringing with much more time outdoors - 39 -
using their imaginations to guide their childhood play. Our Parents are some of the most important people to look up to during childhood, and they featured highly in the memories collected by The Children’s Society too. They are there to guide us, teach us and be the people who show us the most care and affection of all. From the work at the Museum of Childhood, they have found that although each generation romanticises their own childhood there is a current perception that the world is a more dangerous place than it used to be. “Parental anxiety about safety, whether perceived or real, impacts on how much they feel they have to keep their children inside away from outdoor threats,” Teresa explains, and a study conducted by the National Trust in 2012 has shown that children are now three times more likely to injure themselves falling out of bed than falling from a tree. If the parents now think back to their own childhood and how much free time they had to play and be independent this might change. As a report by Play England suggests, two thirds of parents have fond memories of outdoor adventures but would not let their children out alone until they are 14 years old, though would themselves have been playing out before turning ten. This change in attitudes has much to do with existing society issues and the environments children are growing up in, and we will have to wait until these become more child-friendly once again to be told it is safe for children to be let out to play. The recollections of childhood shared by those growing up now – and those who are still children at heart – may focus on different ways of life, but it does not make them any less memorable and these are the thoughts that will stay with us for many years to come.
From the Hundreds and Thousands project, these are the words that appeared most often in the memories of childhood that were collected.
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Thanks to Sara-Jane Smith of Lewknor for the postcard from 1907 of the village where I grew up.
Personal Recollections Margaret Geeling grew up during the Second World War, and her nostalgia for that time is different to modern childhood in many ways.
Swedish-born Tiffany Phan currently lives and studies in London, but remembers her childhood growing up in Malmö, Sweden.
“We moved in with my Grandfather in Enfield during the war, to live in the cellar of his house. I was rushed awake wearing only my nightclothes to go up by train and I remember being very embarrassed. He had an enormous garden and a field with allotments beyond, and we would play for hours outside, my siblings and I, with the children next door. The railings around Grandfather’s garden were taken for the war effort, all the metal and the gates and even saucepans were taken to be used.We would play out in the bracken, just call out a goodbye to Mum as we left. Colly Ocky, that was our game of hide-and-seek, and makebelieve games where we were fairies and we liked to play schools if we were to stay in at the house. We read the Enid Blyton stories – they don’t seem to be as popular now – and I remember my lovely, lovely dolls pram all made of leather and it smelled wonderful.
“When I think about growing up in Sweden, I imagine it to be different from childhood in the UK because of the ‘closeness’ to nature that we have in Scandinavia. I think when growing up in Sweden you spend a lot more time outdoors surrounded by nature. In kindergarten and primary school my teachers would often arrange trips to the countryside, and in high school these would take place at the beginning of term to help us get to know each other. It wouldn’t be like a day trip to Kew Gardens, but out in the real nature where we would hike, go orienteering and play games for the whole day. It didn’t matter if the weather was bad, the field trip always went through, and our teachers would rent a bus and we’d be off to the forest in 40 minutes.
Of course there was rationing and coupons, it’s always been said that everyone’s teeth were better during the war, but when we did get to go to the sweet shop I chose nougat as that was my favourite, and it still is. But what you didn’t have you didn’t miss, which I think is very different to things today. My Father stayed on another year when it ended to look after what was left in Germany – the museums and artefacts – he was a geologist, and these things were getting destroyed by the displaced people who had been driven out of their home country. You would have thought they would be pleased to be back but they were full of anger, and he stayed to keep these things in tact. I remember him coming home on my birthday quite suddenly, seeing him walking round the corner by the shop and I was screaming with joy and jumping up with excitement. That is my most vivid memory, I was always my Daddy’s girl.”
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While some of my friends and classmates would dread these field trips, I always looked forward to them. One of the things I really liked, which is quite silly when I think back, was the fact that we had to bring our own lunch. Since we would usually get the same standard lunch at school, bringing our own lunch was something different. Not only was it exciting to see what everyone else had brought it was also exciting to prepare the lunch the day before. We could bring basically whatever we wanted except for sweets and crisps. I remember that my dad would buy these rice pudding pots called Risifrutti. The rice pudding isn’t flavoured and there’s a separate pot with jam. I always got the raspberry jam one. Risifrutti is probably the food to bring during fieldtrips in Sweden. If you’d ask Swedish children what they usually bring to field trips, they would say sandwiches and Risifrutti. I also had a friend in primary school whose mum made incredible pancakes and whenever she would bring them to a field trip I always asked to try some or change it for a cookie of mine.”
FROM THE LADYBIRD LIBRARY
Ladybird slip cover courtesy of Louise Hjorth Background image courtesy of Adelle Robinson
For her birthday this year, my sister was given an address book from the Ladybird Archive Collection. On the front is a typically nostalgic image of two children writing out their thank you letters - Dear Ann, Thank you for the lovely party, etc. all hand written in pencil with their cheerfully drawn faces that we associate with the Ladybird books. When she turned it
over she found the back slip cover included this short anecdote from the collection, acting as a reminder to all those who still enjoy the childrenâ€™s books of how things have changed over the years since the Ladybird titles have been published.
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Apparel, Headwear & Accessories brixton.com
Images courtesy of Martin Miller, Park Pharmacy Trust and Liberty Art Fabrics
“No matter how bitter the pill, the memories of it are sweet,” - Motto of the Park Pharmacy Trust Martin Miller’s Antiques Price Guides might not be the first choice of reading for many, but it is his continued work in showcasing and preservation that has created a most interesting antiquarian career. The annual title, first published in 1979, has remained an essential companion to any budding and seasoned collector, being updated each year to follow trends in the antiques world. His projects alongside the publication allow others to share his passion for all things old, and Miller aims to get many more people as interested in things from the past as he is. His work at Glencot House, a Victorian-era mansion in rural Somerset, transformed the stately home into the antiques filled hotel it is today, with a complimentary offer of Miller’s Gin at breakfast for all guests. The house – and its 15 bedrooms, tearooms and grand dining hall – is crammed with curiosities and Miller’s personal finds from throughout his career, making the sell-out hotel an eclectic and inspiring place to stay. The Liberty Art Fabrics team even took a three-day drawing excursion in search of ideas and designs for the new spring/summer patterns. Glencot House provided plenty of exciting motifs for
the design team – from the patterned chairs found in the drawing room to the chandeliers, stacks of old books and aged typewriter keys, they created a collection with a distinctly British country house feel. Miller also designed his own print for the collection, reviving the Dragonista pattern from the Liberty Archive and added his own antique illustrations to the original design. While Miller has worked on the regeneration of old buildings and breathing new life into British country retreats, his latest venture has taken a more charitable turn. The mission for the Martin Miller Foundation is to acquire and preserve small collections of British heritage that are at risk from lack of funding and other imposing threats. When – earlier this year – Plymouth City Council found reason to auction off the Park Pharmacy Trust, it was Miller who heard the story of their plight and stepped in, buying the job lot of pharmaceutical items and historical, educational artefacts.The Trust at the time did not know Miller was the highest bidder, and when they learned that the antiques expert was now the sole owner they couldn’t have been happier to see the collection in his hands. The Foundation is working to rebuild a learning centre and tourist attraction, not dissimilar - 45 -
to the Trust’s previous work, but now with Miller’s keen eye for combining the past and the present in eccentric and memorable ways. Visitors will be able to take a class in pill rolling and find out more about the old-fashioned pharmacy trade from the Park volunteers. In the future, the Martin Miller Foundation hopes to be able to save more nostalgic collections around Britain, and manage their upkeep for many more people to enjoy. Miller continues to produce artwork and run his gallery space, found at another of his personal renovations. Housed at Great Brampton House in Herefordshire, the Down Stairs gallery offers a 6,000 square foot space for exhibitions throughout the year, and showcases Miller’s own work alongside that of his wife Ioana. To add another string to his already hugely creative bow, Miller’s Gin is by far his tastiest venture, with the challenge set by him and two friends to create the world’s first ‘super premium’ gin. His creative obsessions and knowledge to put words into action has proved Miller to be a connoisseur of all things of the past – bringing them vividly back to life for the modern age.
TALES OF OUR TIME Although not nostalgic in a historical sense, there is something to learn from the films that define stages of growing up, parting ways and coming to terms with the realisation that life is waiting, just around the corner. Watched first time around they are mirror images of adolescence, but to see them again – perhaps after some time – they remind the audience of the importance of youth and the lessons learnt at a time of great personal maturity – our own eras of nostalgia, played out with a different cast.
HEATHERS (1989) Shoulder pads. Scrunchies. Christian Slater. Heathers had it all.The original girl-clique movie, you either were one of them or you would kill to be one of them. Looking back, those times of girlish squabbles seem futile when in fact some of the girl group are bumped off, but there is more to Heathers – and protagonist Veronica – than just one-upmanship. The desire to be part of something, a huge driving force in most teenagers’ lives, is portrayed in the film with cunning aspirations. Nostalgic feelings – the need to impress, the importance of popularity – these pivotal moments of school and growing up are delivered against a backdrop of skewed pastel tones and toxic teenage relationships. We know these characters and we know the story, but ours hopefully ended with slightly less bloodshed.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999) A little more poignant – concentrating on the pact and intimacy of the Lisbon sisters – Sofia Coppola’s turn of the century adaptation displays the fragile strength of a distinctly different kind of girl-clique. The sibling bonds woven throughout the film and the saddening conclusion are shot in the muted style the award-winning director is known for, the dreamlike quality contrasting the upsetting reality. In addition, the adolescent voyeurism and rebellion against authority piece together a story of transformation from child to a very adult situation. Nostalgia for a time of innocence thrown into disarray when more serious issues begin to surface.
CEMETERY JUNCTION (2010) Set in the 1970s, though this may not be a decade we all remember firsthand, this British film illustrates feelings of growing up, growing apart and growing to seize the moment that most have been through in those important years of self-discovery. Director Ricky Gervais captures the youthful quest for answers and where to find new beginnings – whether it’s taking the first train to embark on the journey or knowing you’re happy with your roots firmly in one place, this modern portrayal of old-fashioned decision making reminds audiences of those times when you didn’t know what was right and what was wrong, but the experience and people are often – in a nostalgic sense – what mattered most.
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Images courtesy of Heathers (New World Pictures), The Virgin Suicides (Paramount Classics), Cemetery Junction (Sony Pictures)
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THE FUTURE OF NOSTALGIA It used to be that to look back at cherished moments we would need to flick through a large, dusty photo album and locate a specific picture from years before. Now, with the use of new technologies, we can access those memories with our fingertips tapping over the screen of the latest handheld gadget. There is no longer a waiting time for nostalgia – it is displayed instantly, refreshed constantly and not glued down to the pages of an old scrapbook or hidden away on a shelf. We can update our memories daily, creating for ourselves a highly stylised and though-out collection of personal nostalgia.The photos and events are highlighted by our online timelines; a new generation’s every move and experience is depicted through a series of tags and comments, placing us at the heart of modern nostalgia – perhaps one day we will look back at those pages trying to remember the good old days, when in fact it wasn’t even that long ago. We share our thoughts and what we are doing with so many that our nostalgia becomes common knowledge. It’s not kept a secret as it might have been, shared only with those who know us well or take interest in our lives.What
was once a tactile and highly personal process has been taken over with the use of social networking and our desire to document online what we find inspirational and memorable every day. Will this be the future of our nostalgia, or will we keep some memories for ourselves? With so much of our daily content published online it can be easy to fall into the cycle of uploading our memories just to keep up with others doing the same.We feed off each other’s news and experiences, and build nostalgia this way without the need for reams of paper or notebooks. Even the humble diary has become an item of memory. Now we can spill our thoughts and feelings onto a keyboard, adding images via the web rather than doodles of ink on a page. It may not be for everyone, but the popularity and success of online blogs and journals represents the way personal information is spreading in modern culture – it’s not handwritten in a book anymore, but typed up and posted for users to find on the internet. Countless musings and opinions on all manner of subjects, all saved for the future and remembering the past. - 48 -
It seems that now we are more concerned with collecting and displaying the memories than enjoying them at the time.The pictures that tell a thousand words are added to our profiles and although they can be edited, there is a sense of great satisfaction knowing you were part of something important enough to be shared, even if it is only with a few hundred friends and followers. This is how we create nostalgia, through the social networks and websites that give our memories an online home. The shift in the way we view human history is still in the early stages, and with the continued updates and new versions we can document the present and look back at the past more effortlessly with each refreshed page. Visions of the past are stored and allow us to find a particular moment in time with great ease, and although not as individual as an old photo album we can surround ourselves with memories and nostalgia, revisiting those times instantly at the touch of button.
NOSTALGIC FOR MORE... Next issue of Attic Magazine available Autumn 2012 For subscription information or if youâ€™d like to get in touch please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue One Summer 2012