The Future of “dead” media

Analog photography is dignifying because it’s out of the hands of the algorithms.

WIRED

Methodology

For my Digital Artefact, I am looking towards the short, medium and long-term future of “dead” analogue media and mediums, specifically film and instant photography:

  • 12 months from now (March 2022)
  • after 5 years (2026)
  • 30 years on (2051)

The purpose of my DA is to introduce my target audience (Gen Z who use TikTok and are a part of the cottagecore, soft boy/girl and VSCO subcultures) to film photography to give them a medium that is analogue, something to break up the chaos of our digital world. This in turn should generate more interest in the film movement, as well as get my work out to a larger audience.

I own a half-frame film camera, specifically an Olympus Pen FT as shown above, and this is key for my DA because it is half-frame; that is, it is a vertical-orientated camera. This will not only save me money on film by doubling the amount of frames I can take on one roll (check out the images below, basically half of the usual full-frame rectangle makes two vertical shots side-by-side), but it is also perfect for the TikTok, smartphone and Instagram Reels format – vertical screens and images are the way to go!

Gen Z allegedly has an attention span of 8 seconds, compared to the Millennial’s supposed 12 (Forbes). Therefore I will be posting very short videos, between eight and twelve seconds, to TikTok to cater for my audience’s preferences.

Since the plan is to produce six 8-second videos over the next 8 weeks, I will be able to listen to my audience, respond to comments, survey them for what they’d want to see next, and use this feedback each week to iterate the next video.

Floral closeup - Olympus Pen F Half Frame Film Camera Review by Jen Golay on Shoot It With Film
This is an example of images taken with an Olympus Pen FT: you get two vertical images instead of the standard, one horizontal image in normal photography. It’s the same view as taking a portrait photo on your iPhone, or the orientation of TikTok.

Background Research

The image is a universal form of communication. Film photography is a medium that has not lost its impact; it can still be read and understood clearly, far into the future (eat your heart out, Domesday Project).

However, there is a difference between photography and image capturing, and there is a difference between a camera that makes photographs & a computer made by a former camera company that captures images. This is the dilemma digital photography faces. The metaphorical soul is missing.

Film is a delicate medium, and all the control is given to the user. So… it’s easy to make mistakes (trust me). This explains the trends driving electronic auto-focus auto-exposure auto-winding film cameras to astronomical prices that far exceed their actual value.

Spoiler: these aren’t the cameras you should be shooting film with (I’m looking at you, Contax T2/Yashica T4/Olympus Mju ii) no matter how many celebrities plug them. Mechanical film cameras are easier to learn on, look way cooler, last for literal decades, and are often a lot cheaper (like, $1000 cheaper).

I am anticipating that my audience needs someone relatable (read: closer in age) to explain problems, demonstrate controls and show them how to use film. I am no expert, I’m just passionate bro.

Point is, film is magic – if you learn the right way.

Somesthetic or sensory marketing, media-based nonlinearities, authenticity and tangibility are only a few of the things I want to explore in relation to my DA. Gen Z is much more insistent on authenticity, and this connection with film as an authentic, slow analogue media should be taken advantage of.

I want to provide an experience that my audience can enjoy. This is not a unique way of thinking though, and concepts like David Dobrik’s app Dispo have begun to emerge in response. Dispo is a new exclusive social media app that displays photos 24 hours after they have first been taken. This appeals to the same range of internet subcultures that I am targeting, and it is a move that cleverly combats the digital sphere’s instant gratification. However I want to move the focus away from algorithms and back to the original medium. If you’ve got a pair of hands and a pair of eyes, you can use film.

I am also interested in exploring ‘technostalgia’ and the generational medias that we grow up with. We have reached the point in history when generations have grown up knowing only the digital sphere. This has created a unique audience of both nostalgic users and brand new users of “dead” media.

There is more to do to encourage the life of this media, which is why I am tackling this specific DA. While we wait on companies like Kodak, Canon, Nikon etc. to bring back old film cameras made this century, I can still promote the medium and show why I enjoy it so much, even more than digital photography.


References


Hulten, B., 2011. Sensory marketing: The multi-sensory brand-experience concept. European Business Review, [Online]. 23/3, 256-273. Available at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/09555341111130245/full/html [Accessed 18 March 2021]

Baltova, S. and Baltova, M., 2017. Value Creation and Value Co-Creation in Professional Business Services: A Challenge in Digital Environment. Bulgarian Journal of Business Research, [Online]. 1, 31-44. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319532382_Value_Creation_and_Value_Co-Creation_in_Professional_Business_Services_A_Challenge_in_Digital_Environment [Accessed 18 March 2021].

PRINT POWER. 2019. Why people need print now more than ever. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.printpower.eu/experts/martin-lindstrom/. [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Robles-De-La-Torre, G., 2006. The Importance of the Sense of Touch in Virtual and Real Environments. IEEE Multimedia, [Online]. 13/3, 24-30. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/3338917_The_Importance_of_the_Sense_of_Touch_in_Virtual_and_Real_Environments [Accessed 20 March 2021].

The Common Desk. 2020. How to Unplug from a Digital World Flooded with Information. [ONLINE] Available at: https://thecommondesk.com/coworking-blog/digital-unplugging-while-working-from-home/. [Accessed 19 March 2021].

The Conversation. 2014. Why does analogue still feel good in a digital world?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://theconversation.com/why-does-analogue-still-feel-good-in-a-digital-world-25609. [Accessed 20 March 2021].

WIRED. 2020. Film Photography Can Never Be Replaced. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wired.com/story/film-photography-can-never-be-replaced/. [Accessed 17 March 2021].

Content Examples

3 thoughts on “The Future of “dead” media”

  1. Jess, first up I’ll be honest I love the concept I’ve recently seen a rise of analogue media in my own TikTok algorithm, such as Tattoo designers who sketch up small ideas for viewers in an entertaining style. I can see how your project will be entertaining to gen z especially in your listed subcultures. Here is an article I found on subcultures I feel that you could find some more cultures that may appeal to your content https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/arts-and-culture/punk-s-not-dead-just-invisible-the-fashion-of-today-s-digital-tribes-20191206-p53hgr . I noticed your image In your blog with the flower, I feel like the focus on nature will help push you up in the algorithm as I’ve got this unproven theory of people wanting to live nature through their phone. Here is an article linked to this theory. https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/technology-compromises-the-wilderness-experience

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jess! I absolutely love this idea! Focusing on something that society find ‘ageing’ and looking at the future of that is fascinating. I think the chosen platform of TikTok is reflective of your sub-cultures and the two go hand-in hand. Tiktok is arguably the biggest media app right now as the length of the videos can hold most peoples attention. On my own TikTok feed I have seen such videos relating to the sub-cultures you have defined. I find that the most drawing ones have a melodic/calming/euphoric tone to them. Perhaps this might appeal to your content. You have mentioned quite a lot of background research so I have tried to find something you may not have come across yet and I thought you might find this blog post engaging, it focuses on the future of film photography and how it is finding its feet again with social media, https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/4909160716/analogue-photography-is-not-what-it-used-to-be. I also found a TikTok trend of a user shooting photographs with expired film. Perhaps you might be interested in this also? Maybe just for aesthetic reasons? https://www.pinterest.com/pin/456904324700495201/ All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jess! This is such an awesome concept, there’s almost an existential horror to keeping analogue media alive through digital media. I think Tik Tok is a really great medium for this project, especially bc being introduced to film like this can be overwhelming. And having it not only explained but introduced in such small intervals makes it easier to be revived and retained. I was very intrigued by your statement you found via forbes: “Gen Z allegedly has an attention span of 8 seconds, compared to the Millennial’s supposed 12” it would be really interesting as well to see how the generational cusp interact with your content. i.e people who identify as zillennials or who feel like they’re too old or young to be either. especially bc they’re coming from an era where analogue media used to be their family’s main source of media before technology delved into digital. So it’d be super awesome to see how much of the feedback you receive is nostalgia based, or how much of it is peeps wanting to go back to mediums they were exposed to in childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

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