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Reflection

I feel that I have learned a lot from class discussions/critiques, they helped to develop and deepen my concept. An example is bringing sensory experience to my project in order to see people’s reactions and responses to ‘nostalgia’. Their feedback also helped in learning what experiences my colleagues are having by looking at these objects and interacting with them, which was an achievement. I am looking forward to experimenting with more objects as well as identifying a hierarchy for certain objects according to senses; feel, sight and smell to deepen my audience experience with nostalgia.

Vocab: Provenance, Sentimental Value, Nostalgia

Bibliography / References

Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, Jamie Arndt, Clay Routledge (2008) Nostalgia: Past, Present, and Future. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Vol 17 (5) pp. 304 – 307

Clay Routledge, Tim Wildschut, Constantine Sedikides, Jacob Juhl & Jamie Arndt (2012) The power of the past: nostalgia as a meaning-making resource. Memory. Vol. 20 (5)

Matthew Baldwin and Mark J. Landau (2014) Exploring Nostalgia’s Influence on Psychological Growth. Self and Identity. Vol. 13 (2)

Matthew Vess, Jamie Arndt, Clay Routledge, Constantine Sedikides & Tim Wildschut (2012). Nostalgia as a Resource for the Self. Self and Identity. Vol. 11 (3)

Mecca, Andrew, Neil J. Smelser, and John Vasconcellos (1989) The Social Importance of Self-Esteem. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Precedent Reviews + Investigation

In terms of methodology and process, my work is closely related to Sagmeister & Walsh, a team of graphic designers (Jessica Walsh & Timothy Goodman) based in New York. These designers breathe new life into old objects, using graphic design, specifically, colour, text, and type. In the same way, I am using these 3 variables to breathe life into objects from my past (video cassettes, childhood toys) and show them in a new, vibrant light.

Aesthetically, my work is similar to Anne Shannon. Also a graphic designer, Shannon’s work enhances QR codes using illustrations to give them deeper meaning. My design piece will make use of QR codes transformed into the relevant objects I am focusing on, which audience members can scan and click to interact with.

Conceptually, my work is related to Brendan Chilcutt’s Museum of Endangered Sounds. Brendan’s design concept is aimed at preserving sounds of now obsolete technology, such as the ring of a Nokia phone, or the booting of a Windows 95 Computer. Similarly, I will infuse my exhibition with relatable sounds that are familiar to the audience, such as those of a video cassette or Game Boy.

Methodologies: 

This project aims to stimulate people and trigger reflections on objects that may hold sentimental value for them. It uses the design process of nostalgic sounds to create a sensory experience. ‘The most powerful sense is not taste or smell but nostalgia’. The resulting design pieces will provide stimulus for sight, sound and touch for audience interaction. Depending on their sensory experience of my pieces, audience may recall a memory or a moment from their past.

Brief discussion of your design process:

My design process for the first project involves experimenting with various objects, using vibrant acrylic paint and type. Type would allow my audience to connect with the project on multiple levels.

Project 2 involves experimenting with senses such as sound, to deepen the interaction between the audience and my exhibition and to enrich their experience. Continuing with the theme of technology, electronic toys and play items from the past – game boys, Furbys and Tamagotchi toys are some of the items that I used in this project. The process also involved sketching these objects to create consistency.

Outcomes:

Key outcomes have been sketching different objects, adding the QR code and etching them onto plain frosted acrylic as well as testing if it works by taking my audience to the sounds.

Failures:

My line illustrations began on transparent tracing paper. Using black ink, I sketched outlines of different objects. A failure was when these sketches were scanned they appeared to be transparent and difficult to trace on illustrator.

Another failure was the size of the objects, some objects were scaled down such as the Vhs tape, Sony.

Future design outcomes:

Creating a museum of sentimentality: I hope to display my collection of objects as a museum, which audience members can experience and interact with.

Including smell and sound as sensory elements in my exhibition: I want to discover the best way for my audience to receive and respond to these sensory stimuli in their interactions with my exhibition.

Inserting commentary on the curations of my objects: An important outcome will be to add meaning to my exhibitions by inserting commentary on the various curations. This will help the audience connect more strongly with my work, beyond the artist statement.

Primary and Secondary research

Primary research involved discussion with my uncle, who hosts a museum of collectible items that document the heritage of our family.

Secondary research includes internet review of the Museum of Endangered Sounds, which preserves sounds rendered obsolete by evolving technology. I also loaned 2 books on upcycling and repurposing from the Qatar National Museum.

Other secondary research includes articles gathered for my Senior Seminar course, on topics of sentimental value, upcycling, collecting, repurposing, and recycling.

Observational research included visiting the Msheireb Museums – a group of restored heritage houses – to observe a documentation of Qatar’s ongoing transition from a sleepy pearl-diving town to an emerging world city. My observational research included a visit to the “Driven by German Design” exhibition in Al Riwaq. The museum featured artifacts such as cars, spoons, cups and chairs, and chronicling their technological journey.

Condition / Problem

The rapid advancements in technology and technological processes over the last century have been unparalleled in more ways than one. In my generation alone, we have witnessed innovation in several aspects of society, one of the most notable being the expansion of communication platforms, from telephone to email, internet to social media.

The speed at which such progress has been made means that there are newer and more innovative ways and forms of performing the simple things in daily lives: playthings, communication devices, study tools, and sports equipment are just a few of the variables that have undergone transformation in the last few decades, to name a few.

The consequence of these developments mean that we now spend a shorter amount of time with a single object before replacing it with a newer and better functioning version, and also that most objects are quickly rendered obsolete, and in danger of being forgotten or discarded once out of daily use. Without preserving these items for their nostalgic power and sentimental value, we miss an opportunity to recall and relive our childhood; an opportunity to recall the markers of our formative years, and in doing so, to appreciate our personal journey through the world

  • Why is this problem / Condition important or significant?
  • Why should we care?

According to Clay Routledge, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, reminiscence is the behavior of reflecting on one’s past, and nostalgia is the emotional response that said reflection triggers.

Reminiscence can be as frequent as once a week, and is often times, triggered by familiar sights, sounds, taste or touch of objects associated with the past. This could be a familiar scent of childhood delicacy, a piece of music, an old photo, or the sight of a technologically obsolete device. This activity is most common in those experiencing important life transitions – from young adults in their teens and 20s leaving home and beginning college or new jobs to adults reevaluating their lives.

Traditionally conceived of as a medical disease and a psychiatric disorder, nostalgia has since been proven to be not only a natural response to the stimulus of reflection, but also full of predominantly positive, self-relevant, and social emotion. Whereas nostalgia is triggered by moods such as loneliness, it often results in positive affects – increased self-esteem and higher social connectedness, for example. (Sedikides et al, 2008)

Scholars have shown that nostalgia has a positive effect on psychological wellbeing. (Vess et al, 2012; Routledge et al, 2012) Baldwin and Landau (2014) examined the connection between nostalgia and an individual’s ability to cultivate inner possibilities, seek uplifting challenges in all areas of life, and to integrate new experiences into the self. They found that nostalgia positively enhanced a person’s ability to find meaning in life and develop positive and growth-oriented self-perception. (Baldwin and Landau, 2014)

In what way is this problem/condition relevant?

The problem is relevant to society. In today’s fast-paced and evolving world, stress has become a hallmark of the modern lifestyle. The time allocated to us remains fixed at 24 hours, but from work to home, and all else in between, many of us seek to achieve more in less time. This has led to increasing levels of stress. Nostalgia helps to alleviate stress. Frequent engagement in reminiscence and experience of nostalgic affects on positive self-esteem have implications for every aspect of human existence. “I cannot think of a single psychological problem, from anxiety and depression to fear of intimacy or of success, to spouse battery or child molestation, that does not have its roots in low self-esteem” (Branden, 1984, pp 5 and 12) This explains just how important nostalgia is in maintaining a psychologically healthy society.

The problem is also relevant in an economic context. Stress has been linked to physical and psychological disorders, with health implications such as impaired physical and mental functioning, reduced quality of life, greater disconnect from society. Stress and its related diseases are responsible for a large proportion of disability worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey estimates that mental disease, including stress-related disorders, will be the second leading cause of disabilities by the year 2020. Stress has a huge economic cost in today’s society. (Kalia, 2002).