The New Old: Archaisms and Anachronisms across Media
Stefano Baschiera and Elena Caoduro
Abstract: Transmedial and transcultural expressions of nostalgia are ubiquitous in our contemporary popular culture. Revival styles, vintage fashions, retro phenomena, skeumorphs and remediations are common presences in our increasingly digital cultural landscape, which gives up the dreams of spotless perfection of the binary code for the indexical ruins of the analogical. The popular culture critic Simon Reynolds has correctly identified the renaissance of past decades at the turn of the new millennium, arguing that “instead of being the threshold to the future, the first ten years of the twenty-first century turned out to be the ‘Re’ Decade. The 2000s were dominated by the ‘re-’ prefix: revivals, reissues, remakes, re-enactments. Endless retrospection” (xi; emphasis in the original). The fascination with the “outdated”, the pastiche of “retro” styles, and the evocation of past technologies are evident in media, fashion and industrial design and in different digital realms, from videogames to smartphone apps. This rediscovery and revisiting of past materialities and aesthetics is not simply a form of contemplative longing and emulation, but it also brings forth novel and innovative ways to engage with, rework and reappropriate the past.