‘The Nostalgia Machine’ was the second installation, where I combined (back)-lit still images with video, after the ‘Surreal Business Cycle’ a few months earlier. This time it was in the form of a traditional light box, with an opaque, back-lit plexiglass on the front that had a number of images and text printed on, and a video screen fixed in the centre of the plexiglass.
The video in the centre of the light box is about 20 minutes long and plays on a loop. It consists mainly of stop-frame animations, following the trail of printed stickers in various locations, whereby each sticker depicts an image of the pervious location. The camera, in stop frame manner, continuously moves towards or away from each sticker, and then jumps to the previous or next location, thereby creating the illusion of ‘flying’ from on place to the other. The stickers were placed in particular places within (mostly) urban environments, in various cities and different points in time. All of the trails converge on ‘Ridley Road Market’ in Dalston, London, in spring 2013, which becomes the focal point of this journey into memories and urban space.
The images on the light box show the key moments of each time/space trail and are accompanied by the precise location and moment in time of capture. This key image also becomes the sticker for any subsequent potential trail, and in such cases is accompanied by the measurements of the stickers and its price of sale.
The text, underneath the video, describes the workings of the Nostalgia Machine in technical detail:
‘Beauty and Love were frozen: Seven years, three months, two days, twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes and thirty-one seconds. After that they were simply absent, non-existent. In this emotional vacuum devoid of strong affection and personal attachment and without any perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction, a structure slowly became apparent that would eventually display characteristics akin to notions of beauty and love: Time, reflected through the abstract arrangement of inter-related, interconnected and interwoven points, instances and moments.
The most critical of all points in this structure is what could be called the point of inversion. At this point, all previous moments, which were irrelevant at their time of occurrence, and the abstract arrangement as a whole, which was hitherto unaware of its own existence, take on a retrospective meaning that transcends ideas of nostalgia, as the true meaning does not lie in any properties the points may reflect, but in the pure appreciation of the moment(s) as an experience of time itself.
In appreciating this pure experience of time lies the true beauty and love of the process, while the structure, as an abstract arrangement, is the manifestation of this process. Images, however destructive and obstructive to the process in general, are instrumental in a number of ways, but have to be defended against the attacks of the ‘Nostalgia Machine’, which would logically attempt to intrude and infiltrate the process, thereby rendering it ineffective and incorporating the process in the Nostalgia Machine’s all encompassing representation of life as an audio and visual surface of perceived properties of beauty and love. The Nostalgia Machine’s inherent propensity to fictionalize life functions proportionally successful to its ability of presenting an ever perfecting narrative, seemingly in tune with the eternal rhythm of beauty and love. ‘The process’ must resist such tendencies and embrace the sensual pleasures of time without notions of past and future. This effort of identifying narrative-free moments in time can only succeed, if the following two preconditions are observed:
(1): the selection of images need to follow a ‘process’ of elimination.
Each identified moment is to be positioned against a set of images, which must gradually decrease in numbers for each successive moment until the point of inversion is reached, the precise occurrence of which is identified through one single image.
(2): While the use of seemingly nostalgia laden images creates a growing emotional attachment to each moment in time, the experience of this emotional attachment has to become less personal with each successive moment. At the point of inversion, one single image, intolerably nostalgia laden, yet devoid of personal memories, breaks the memory-nostalgia relation, which results in a climactic experience, at once full of euphoric revelation and profound disappointment.’
© by Rupert Jaeger 2013
‘The Nostalgia Machine’ was shown as part of the ‘Mnemonic City’ series. It was shown at the Doomed Gallery in Dalston, London, just off Ridley Road Market under the banner ‘Mnemonic City: Moving Streets’ with other work of 10 artists of Magma Collective.
The dimensions of the light box are 90 x 65 x 14 cm.