Digital Nostalgias: Pixels, GIFs, and SoundCurator: Katharina Niemeyer, University of Quebec (Montreal) | August 2017 ongoing
Collection Editors: Andrew Iliadis and Isabel Pedersen
Collection Archivist: Sharon Caldwell
As with other feelings, nostalgia is related to our bodies, our memories, our experienced past, and our future. The one thing that recent and older media technologies have in common is their ability to trigger feelings of nostalgia. In this collection, I explore the idea of digital nostalgias.
Recent media and technologies function as platforms, projection spaces, and tools for expressing nostalgia. One way that they achieve this is by offering a ‘pastful aesthetic’, for example, sepia filters in cell phone photography. Audiences and users can become nostalgic for communication technologies and devices, as well as for the rituals and the way of life associated with them. Media can also be nostalgic for itself, evoking or replaying its past through new media. For example, an evocation of the past is channeled through the existence of YouTube videos that archive old computer start-up noises or websites that mimic web design trends from the 90ies. In this sense, media practice becomes essential for nostalgia, whether this be as a trigger for homesickness or more playful forms. Nostalgia is something that we actively do, superficially or in a deeper way; alone or with the help of others; or through the media and technologies we use, hence the term technostalgia. Some people reject the idea that digital objects are sensorial agents, that they are at the same level or have the same symbolic value as tangible objects that we can touch or smell. Yet, there are many instances where nostalgic feelings can be evoked through digital media. For example, an old video game or animated GIF can have the same nostalgic potential as a car from the 20s or a VHS cassette.
The aim of this collection is to recognize the numerous online expressions that have evoked a sense of yearning for the past – from the web of the 90s or old television shows. It also includes publications related to homesickness, as well as research projects and organizations dedicated to the investigation of nostalgic expressions.