exhibition to see

This extremely "analogue" exhibition (at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery) is centred around a very "honest" material: wood. Seeing this may provide a direct glance at how people interact with the materiality of things.

synthesis

Stemming from an interest in synthesisers creating the sounds I hear in music and films, the bridge between analogue and digital is an area which excites me, enticing me to delve deeper into the world of new technology and processes. The above two album covers - by a Parisian alternative pop-synth duo called "Agar Agar" - first introduced me to the sound of synths, and fuelled the start of this investigation. The noises they use sounded to me, at first, as strong digitised dronings used to make arpeggios and powerful bass lines; I was shocked and then excited to understand that the synthesisers being used were - in fact - analogue tools, harnessing the sound waves directly to create warm, unique noises. 

Bladerunner (1982, Ridley Scott) also used a variety of synths to create intense, emotional sounds in songs like "Bladerunner blues" and "wait for me" (written by Vangelis) which were in fact created on an analogue tool first invented in 1956 by RCA. The timelessness of these audios and the reputable nature of the devices used to create them makes me want to question deeper into the success of synthesisers and what other machines and processes hold this quality. 

I assume there to be strong evidence that some of the tools used in the mid to late 20th century have set a specific tone that our digital devices and softwares still adhere to, either by emulating or re-thinking. This is just a hypothesis, which will need to be explored through more in-depth research and analysis. This may be more easily answered by drawing connections and links between graphics, music and technologies between the 20th and 21st century.

There seems to be an undeniable longevity and arguably ethereal nature to certain processes and designs created long in the past. Although subjective, there are multiple examples which, to me, have held their tone throughout the time in which they exist. 

 

As a nineteen year-old, my perception as to what feels old or new, or how things are made is definitely limited to the fact that I have grown up in the online digital era; without experiencing analogue mediums when that was all there was, I can only compare through the lens of the 21st century. To overcome this, speaking first hand to those who have lived experiences with the analogue world should give me a more informed understanding, minimising any guess-work. 

A particular area that could be an exciting starting point of this investigation could be the nature of trust we have with the synthesis of design and products. Over the past twenty years, with the invention and immense popularisation of the digital and online world, the growing accessibility and amount of content, I assume we have lost touch with the synthesis of what we experience. Thirty years ago, where one could feel and assess for themselves the honest materiality something, there was no need for skepticism of how that thing was made. Today, everything is processed through a digital screen, printed onto familiar paper or warped through social media; there is no verification on how a thing is made; we have lost sensory affirmation. I want to find out how much integrity these modern day experiences have. I want to demystify the modern day relationship we hold.

podcast to listen to

The “pessimists archive” is a podcast which could prove interesting and relevant to my investigation. It analyses the “history of why we resist new things”, which by referencing the innovations in processes and technologies will undoubtedly help to see how and why we interact with our modern day content.

Another interesting angle of approach with my questioning may be to scrutinise the ways in which we, today, feel ‘nostalgic’ towards certain past materials. The digital software of analogue-style filters (popularised by Instagram) create the opportunity for mimicking analogue tools with the tap of a button. Although we are used to seeing these visuals as “filters”, they are copies of an existing, real life analogue-made outcome. This creates a very skewed perception of what is real, faked, old, new or something in-between.  A rise in popularity with film photography and VHS cam-cording is an example of how trends determine what out-dated aesthetics and techniques are “allowed” to be used or how they become fashionable. Did these trends come from the “renaissance” of the specific aesthetics copied by filters, or is the resurgence an independently occurring pattern? Are we nostalgic for an analogue that never existed?

Another interesting angle of approach with my questioning may be to scrutinise the ways in which we, today, feel ‘nostalgic’ towards certain past materials. The digital software of analogue-style filters (popularised by Instagram) create the opportunity for mimicking analogue tools with the tap of a button. Although we are used to seeing these visuals as “filters”, they are copies of an existing, real life analogue-made outcome. This creates a very skewed perception of what is real, faked, old, new or something in-between.  A rise in popularity with film photography and VHS cam-cording is an example of how trends determine what out-dated aesthetics and techniques are “allowed” to be used or how they become fashionable. Did these trends come from the “renaissance” of the specific aesthetics copied by filters, or is the resurgence an independently occurring pattern? Are we nostalgic for an analogue that never existed?

A more prevalent reference that I intend to use is Fernando Laposse. Laposse investigates and argues that despite the consistent attempts by companies, governments and researchers to innovate to overcome the growing climate change with new technologies, the most effective way to act is by resorting back to the basics in which our societies first lived and functioned. Furthermore, it is the smaller communities and countries which have been almost forced out of their ways of lives to accommodate for new mechanics and technologies (for maximising productivity and profit) which are at most risk of global warming and the imminent consequences that approach. Although this link is far-fetched and not directly relevant to my investigation which focusses on a more aesthetic side of old and new, the notion remains the same and will be able to be applied to my research.

The Bridget Riley exhibition at the Hayward was a break-through moment that has definitely lead to the interest in this project. After walking through the exhibition and studying her mesmerising images of patterns, textures and beautiful repetitions, it was only at the end where I saw her process, or synthesis, that made me appreciate what it was that she had created. By getting an insight into the method behind her work, I was then beginning to understand the time, precision and practise she injects onto each individual painting: the measured sketches, angles, lines and multitudes of smaller sketches and tests prior to every final piece is not only telling, but mesmerising. This allowed me to understand that, today, a huge amount of what we are exposed to is assumed to be digital - there is almost always an under appreciation when traditional techniques are applied to a project. This may be due to the over-saturation caused by the force-fed content we digest every day, or even just a world-wide naivety of the young people of the 21st century.

 

An example of this is the 2018 release A Quiet Place directed by John Krasinksi. The popular horror film was in fact shot on Kodak 35mm, an analogue filming technique used by the likes of Quentin Tarantino in the late 80s and 90s. Despite the signature look of the film (although subtle to a modern-day eye), it is not commonly known that this was the way the film was made. Even though a sixty second google search reveals the truth behind the synthesis of the thriller, there’s no other indication. The production of the film is arguably under appreciated. However, this poses the question as to what warrants appreciation and how we measure value.

 

Is it the cost of production? or the effort to make something? There are a variety of factors that effect how we, as a mass, interact with what we see and hear and to what extent we trust the process behind an outcome.  

Through my personal practise, so far, I have acquired a strong literacy with digital softwares like Photoshop and Premiere Pro; I think returning to more basic methods of creating such as etching and letterpress would be a strong start to my investigation

initial research:

- visually recording an episode of "the pessimists archive" podcast

repairing the sewing machine