Twitter- @NOW_stalgia http://www.nowstalgiaexhibition.com/
NOWstalgia features 17 emerging artists from Queensland College of Art who have been mentored by post-graduate student Lynden Stone. Curated by Kate Simpson and Eileen Abood, the exhibition looks at how we are distanced from our immediate experiences in a fast moving world and how we objectify the present as a thing to be reconstructed.
Today’s NOWstalgic culture of self- promotion, “update” value and the digitization of all aspects of everyday life is alternately embraced, rejected and commented upon by artists. The intervention of nowstalgic values and practices on our perception of the world manifests itself in works from pixelated aesthetics through to strange hybridisations and poignant self-portraits. Artists mourn the present as already past and question the glossy facade of consumerism and popular culture.
Eileen Abood, Tom Brooks, Sarah Cattoni, Simon Degroot, Alex Hall, Christopher Hardwick, Rachel Hazzard, Bianca Hines, Kym McElroy, Kate McKay, Jamie Mumford, Caity Reynolds, Kate Simpson, Lynden Stone, Malinda Swain, Corey Wapau-Marshall, Ingrid Wind and Amanda Wolf..
IMAGES OF EXHIBITION, OPENING NIGHT AND CURATORIAL ESSAY BELOW
OPENING NIGHT ABOVE- Eileen Abood, in her performance mingling with the guests
CURATIORIAL ESSAY BY EILEEN ABOOD
Our present as an already past event
Today’s nowstalgic world is moving faster than it has in any previous era. With the advancements in computer and communication technology we have the ability to become aware of and react instantly to situations and events. The element of time and distance are no longer the barrier or buffer that they used to be. The ways in which we exchange and circulate knowledge has been significantly affected. Digital mediums have given rise to totally new practices and modes of life in a startlingly short period of time, creating a sense of rupture and disconnection from older cultural configurations (Edwards et al. 2011, pp. 1394, 1401, 1402), not least of which has been the highly visible globalizing effects of the internet (Manovich 2001, p.6).
By the early 1980s the cultural phenomenon of re-working, recombining and analysing pre-existing media material rather than trying to make it new indicated a new cultural “cut and paste” logic which coincided with periodising contemporary culture as “post-modern”, “the computer revolution” and “the information age”(Edwards et al. 2011, p. 1402; Manovich 2001, p.131). This defining of a new era is described by Fredric Jameson (cited in Manovich 2001, p.131) as correlating the emergence of new formal features in culture with the development ‘of a new type of social life and a new economic order’.
Jameson (cited in Herron 1993, p.1) describes “nostalgia for the present” as ‘essentially a process of reification, whereby we draw back from our immersion in the here-and-now… and grasp it as a kind of thing’. As well as this objectifying of the present nowstalgia also encompasses ideas of what it means to “be in the now” and the implication of privileging what is most current.
This sense of disconnection and commodification of the ‘now’ is reflected in descriptions of our current age as being distinguished by ambiguity, shifting boundaries and definitions, and a constant state of ‘emergence, contingency, and flux’ (Johnston & Lio
1998, p.453). Within our culture of constant “updating” we begin to see our present as already past. Everything from fashionable objects to ideologies lose their value as they move further away from their new improved versions.
In contemporary culture we have seen a shift in social structure from a traditional model where the individual was ‘wholly absorbed’ by and ‘oriented toward the group’ to a situation where groups are now oriented toward the individual (Pescosolido & Rubin 2000, p.56). With the advancements of social networking platforms such as Facebook a new dimension has been added to the way we think about and are able to represent ourselves to the world. We now have far more control over how we are perceived and through ‘status updates’ we can show the world our constantly transforming and most up-to-date version of ourselves. The opportunities for self-making and self- articulation within contemporary social networking is often criticized as providing a space for unfettered narcissism where an individual can exaggerate and become absorbed by their own self-importance (Bianco 2009, p.303; ed. Chang 2008, 133). Another significant consideration of the maintenance and stylising of our online self-representations is its impact on the way we go about our everyday lives. As people persistently view their experiences as documentary fuel for online updates they remove themselves from fully participating in the moment causing a disruption and disconnection which undermines the authenticity of the re-constructed experience. This disruption of real experiences is exacerbated by the increasing capabilities and portability of technological devices such as smart phones which allow us to always have a means to document and upload on hand.
The contemporary reliance on and practices of cloud computing and social networking as the current framework for human knowledge(Bianco 2009, p.310) supports Manovich’s(2001, p.69) claim that ‘we are no longer interfacing to a computer but to culture encoded in digital form’. In advanced industrial and post- industrial societies almost all aspects of everyday life involve a choice from some menu, catalogue, or database. Everything from objects to people’s identities can be assembled from ready-made parts and this means of production through selection and combination is reflected in the interfaces of authoring and editing software (Manovich 2001, p.126-130). Drawing upon elements from databases and libraries such as the internet is standard practice and part of the proliferation of hybridity that is so characteristic of our times.
The nowstalgia of cutting edge technological processes, self- promotion culture, “update” value and the digitization of all aspects of everyday life is alternately embraced, rejected and
commented upon by artists. The intervention of nowstalgic values and practices on our perception of the world manifests itself in works from pixelated aesthetics through to strange hybridisations and poignant self-portraits. Artists mourn the present as already past and question the glossy fac?ade of consumerism and popular culture.
The physical art object becomes a means to resist the digitizing logic of the culture of the now, and those works constructed on traditional supports such as canvas and paper become deliberate acts which anchor the screen culture of today to its earliest forms, thus resisting its newness and grounding it in its historical origins. Despite the seemingly utter dislocation of contemporary culture from previous eras through the conventionalising of practices to the point of obscurity, the nowstalgia of today did not spontaneously come into being but is founded on the cultural forms of the past.
Bianco, J 2009, ‘Social Networking and Cloud Computing: Precarious Affordances for the “Prosumer”’, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 1/2, pp. 303-312, viewed 4 April 2012, <http://www.jstor.org/stable/27655163 .Accessed: 10/04/2012 07:08>.
Chang, E (ed.) 2008, Self-Criticism and Self-Enhancement: Theory, Research, and Clinical Implication, American Psychological Association, Washington.
Craig, B (ed.) 2008, Collage: Assembling contemporary art, Black Dog Publishing, London.
Edwards, P & Gitelman, L , Hecht, G, Johns, A, Larkin, B & Safier, N 2011, ‘Historical Perspectives on the Circulation of Information’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 116, No. 5, pp. 1392-1435, viewed 10 April 2012, <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/ahr.116.5.1393>.
Herron, J 1993, ‘Homer Simpson’s Eyes and the Culture of Late Nostalgia’, Representations, No. 43, pp. 1-26, viewed 10 April 2012, <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2928730>.
Johnston, H & Lio S 1998, ‘Introduction: Collective Behavior and Social Movements in the Postmodern Age: LookingBackward to Look Forward’, Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 453-472 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1389559>.
Manovich, L 2001, The Language of New Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.
Pescosolido, B & Rubin, B 2000, ‘The Web of Group Affiliations Revisited: Social Life, Postmodernism, and Sociology’, American Sociological Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 52-76, viewed 10 April 2012, <