Histoire numérique et l’historiographie

'Analogue Renaissance': Strategies of Technostalgia with Kodak’s new Super 8 film camera

“There are some moments that digital just can’t deliver, because it doesn’t have the incomparable depth and beauty of film. These moments inspired Kodak to design a new generation of film cameras.” Along with this mission statement, Kodak announced the making of a new Super 8 film camera at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2016. The announcement preceded the re-release of various other “retro” and “vintage” products in the following years, including Kodak’s iconic Ektachrome film stock. This paper critically investigates Kodak’s so-called “Analogue Renaissance”, the return of these analogue amateur film technologies that used to be widely popular among amateur film and home moviemakers in the 1970s. The re-releases not only fostered the imagination of numerous hobbyists around the world who were familiar with analogue filmmaking already, but also a new generation of users interested in film’s analogue aesthetic and material qualities. The paper analyses Kodak’s cross-generational attempt to remediate, revive and re-imagine the Super 8 film camera as a past media technology in particular. Drawing on the concept of “technostalgia”, the reminiscence of past media technologies in contemporary memory practices, it aims to further build on previous attempts to theorize the dynamic relations between the past and the present, the analogue and the digital, and the archival and the performative. While Kodak has been strategically framing the new Super 8 film camera under the label of the “Analogue Renaissance”, it will be shown that it not limits itself to remediating the design and analogue functionality of the device’s idiosyncratic equivalent. On the contrary, remarkably enough, the new Super 8 camera comes with several additional digital features, such as the recording of digital sound and a LCD display. The paper argues that this merging of the film camera’s original analogue features with digital ones makes Kodak’s new film camera a fundamental “hybrid” media technology, whose manufacturer’s attempt to update it to the present day by adding digital features entails more than just a way of enhancing user possibilities and experiences. While Kodak advertises its new device with a statement that aims to exaggerate the impossibilities of the digital, it will be argued that Kodak’s new Super 8 film camera requires a theoretical thinking that moves beyond the analogue-digital divide as well as previous conceptualizations of (tech)nostalgia.

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