Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remediation and nostalgia

Remediation, according to J. David Bolter and Richard Grusin, is 'the representation of one medium in another' (1999, 45). The video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar Games, 2002) remediates film, TV and radio, using specific forms and techniques to produce a sense of ironic nostalgia for the 1980s through the dominant media formats of the period.

Vice City draws upon the storylines and aesthetics of a number of gangster films, but is particularly indebted to Brian De Palma's film Scarface (1983) and the TV show Miami Vice (NBC, 1984-89).

The other contemporary phenomenon mentioned in this week's lecture is the use of analogue tape effects in digitally-produced music (achieved either by mastering to analogue tape or by applying digital effects to emulate analogue audio saturation). I've included here some examples from Boards of Canada and Neon Indian, in which a nostalgic atmosphere is created through the remediation of analogue tape/audio effects (although, as demonstrated by Neon Indian, trying to sing like '80s pop duo Hall and Oates is another handy way to capture that elusive nostalgia-effect).

Dawn Chorus by Boards of Canada

 Boards of Canada: Amo Bishop Roden

Boards of Canada: Sunshine Recorder

Deadbeat Summer by Neon Indian


  1. Are you following Grusin's work on Premediation on his blog ( It meshes very well with the tenor of the linked material here.

  2. Thanks, Giovanni. No, I wasn't aware of Grusin's more recent work. I agree - it seems to me that these ideas would dovetail nicely with Andrew Hoskins' work on 'new memory', particularly where he talks about the use of 'media templates' as a way of framing/pre-formatting current events.