In Praise of Analogue
When I did an SLR photography course earlier this year, I was the only one in the class who was shooting on film. The rest had digital SLR cameras. Though I felt like a dinosaur at the start, I learned to appreciate many things about film photography.
It also got me reflecting on a range of other technologies and media that have been superseded by digital technology – what you could call ‘analogue’ technologies, for lack of better word. And I was inspired to write an occasional series of posts in homage to ‘analogue’ technologies.
It is not a new use of the term, of course. Many have long described pre-digital technologies as analogue, after how clocks with hands were distinguished from digital ones. Analogue has become a very handy catch-all phrase.
There is a wide range of pre-digital media: 135 mm photographic film, black and white film, cassette tapes, video, vinyl records and even letters.
And there are many more technologies that have receded into our not-so-dim past: pre-electronic SLR cameras, transistor radios, reel-to-reel audio recorders, dial telephones, typewriters, fountain pens, and even the lowly pencil. And potentially cathode-ray tube TVs.
This won’t be an exhausting survey, but an idiosyncratic exploration drawing on my own experiences and reflections. So while I am not covering things many things, that is not stopping you from doing so, either in the comments or in your blogs.
The first in this ‘Analogue’ series will be a homage to film photography, so stay tuned.
What sets these technologies apart as analogue is that each has been superseded to some extent by a digital equivalent.
More significantly, analogue technologies are much, much slower than digital technologies. The speed of digital made it so much more appealing than the analogue equivalents. Paradoxically, in our fast-paced digital world, slowness is now what is increasingly appealing about analogue forms.
I’m no technophobe. I have enjoyed the digital revolution tremendously. But exploring analogue technologies offers a richness – not only of tapping some sentimental past, but of exploring new ways of experiencing and appreciating our world today.
[Image: photograph published by Library of Congress on flickr, no copyright]