Nostalgia for the Now


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(Here’s a great article by Peggy Nelson about nostalgia, memories, and how digital media allows us to interpret memories independently of what we capture on media…)

Photographs give us the ability to capture what we see, more or less. And apps give us the ability to capture what we wish. So what do we wish for? The seventies or a reasonable facsimile? More beautiful memories? A more beautiful everyday? …Nostalgia is a tricky thing.

It’s not just that apps like Hipstamatic add a fade and a blur, and a single-color cast to a scene, imbuing it with more presence than perhaps it had claimed for itself. That’s all right, presence is absent, it lives in the mind’s eye, if at all. Imbue at will. Nostalgia’s trickiness is measured in the values embedded in the algorithms. That striped t-shirt on your back? That empty afternoon coffee mug? That corpse with the artfully lifeless fingers? All gesturing towards some time in the past when life was slower, when colors had time to fade, when transitions were softer and easier on the heart, when possibilities beckoned. Never mind that there was no time like that; or rather, that all times are. In our memories, it exists. And in our digital outputs.

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