The Authentic Aesthetic

The iPhone has a app for the camera feature, called the Hipstimatic. If faithfully reproduces the mistake-laden exposures produced by flimsy plastic cameras from the past. As most of us know, film is dead, but with tools like the Hipstimatic ... "Long live film!".The Vintage Video Maker for the iPhone is another tool, it provides the scratch and dent quality seen on the old super 8 and 16mm film. There are a slew of other products on the market that entice us to travel backwards to look so ever forward. Take for example the Olympus PEN camera, have you seen this old-fashioned styled stop motion video? Stop motion is so old school cool, just like the design of the camera ... hipster approved.

So, why do we desire to place our digital pictures into this analog time machine to produce such a gritty, over-exposed, "authentic" look and feel? What is it about these brilliant mistakes? Why do we choose to get grit right ... "flaw perfection"? Is it a desire to create warmth, soul, chance, personality?

Hmmm. On one hand, these tools are simple and inexpensive methods to create pure style, set a mood and express post-modern irony. Nothing too complicated about that. But on the other hand and under the surface, I think our desire to "make it look old school" is a reflection of our anxiety about the future. Apparently, only the past can provide comfort food, and in this post modern age, we are hungry for mom's cookin'. Take a look at Steampunk, Make Magazine, Etsy, Yarnbombing as examples.

I am not a Cultural Anthropologist, but I do believe that the influence of instant information and the power of technology to create great anxiety triggers this desire to create something "authentic-looking" It helps us re-create a less-cluttered past. Cultural comfort food for a hungry, possibly unsure people.

Everything that is new is old again.