Exploring Generative Nostalgia Since 2022

CfP: Time in a Bottle

If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do… is to save everyday ‘til eternity passes away just to spend them with you.

Time in a Bottle | Jim Croce (1973)

As we emerge from a global period of great loss, sacrifice, and patience into a “new normal” fraught with conflict, ecological crisis, and rapid sociotechnical change…digital nostalgia has taken a turn towards encapsulation.

On social media, custom-made pop-culture dioramas are sold out to buyers eager to preserve the set of their favorite childhood video game or TV show. Meanwhile, costs of supporting digital cloud storage to hoard our pasts mount while we risk forgetting it anyway. Large language models “speak” from the frozen moments of their training data, stuck between the past and the next update. Those who itch for clairvoyance seek their own remembrance as cold comfort: in 2019, over 25,000 Koreans engaged in therapeutic “living funerals,” donning burial shrouds, posing for their own memorial portraits, and lying inside real coffins as the living chant prayers for the “dead”.

These containers of time are comparable to bottles full of ideological messages which recall a rose-tinted past, a somber future, a present tinged with grief. 

  • If these items could talk, what “message in a bottle” do they have for us?
  • What are the social, ecological, and cultural impacts left in the present by our pursuit of the nostalgic past or future?
  • How far will we go to preview, pay, and pursue a time outside the present? 

Rather than resting on the adage, “only time will tell,” this symposium asks participants to consider what these “bottles” tell us about the future we are drifting towards.

In what ways do we try to capture nostalgia, 
and what do these containers capture about us?

The NOSTAGAIN NETWORK would like to acknowledge and thank our sponsors:

Topics of Interest

We invite artists, students, emerging and established scholars, and keen nostalgia enthusiasts to speculate on the impacts of how nostalgia is used on us, and vice versa. Topics should touch on either or both questions, but can also go beyond:

(i) What are the NOSTALGIC OBJECTS that are present in everyday life? 

  • Nostalgic franchise revivals: Barbie (2023), Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
  • Objects that are now rare due to its historical or cultural brand: happy meal toys…etc.
  • The material and the immaterial: cleaner air, insect populations, ‘noctalgia’ etc.
  • Patriotic, political, or personal items passed down from generations; visually/orally

Potential Questions to Consider

  • Socially, culturally, or politically, how do they (nostalgic objects) remain so pervasive?
  • Why do we hoard so many things? Or, why do we “collect”, “curate”, or “store” them?
  • What is strategically made to be remembered and forgotten?
  • Does the ideological memory belong to any particular group? Who benefits/loses?
  • How effective are these nostalgic objects at impacting or overriding the present?

(ii) What OBJECTS OF NOSTALGIA promise to help us get somewhere else beyond the present moment? Where does it take us and what do we bring back?

  • Photographs, videos, drawings, art brings the old to the now, or the now to the new
  • Advertisements and campaigns to take us “Back to ___”, or Make Things Great Again
  • The perils and power of discourse on nostalgia in the digital or real-world
  • Libraries, archives, storage units, year books, iCloud photos you never synced

Potential Questions to Consider

  • Socially, culturally or politically, how do they remain so pervasive today?
  • What are its effects on the existential, environmental or ethical domains of social life?
  • How big is the empire of nostalgia that “was and is a business” (Niemeyer 2016:29)?

Submission Guidelines

  1. Symposium Presentations: 
  • Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words.
  • Accepted submissions are presented at the symposium, possibly with a panel, followed by a hybrid Q&A.

Submission Link for Presentations:

  1. Research-Creation Projects: 
  • Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and/or media.
  • The project can be a work in progress, a prototype, or a finished product. Creators will showcase their work alongside other artists, interact directly with the participants of the event, and through a hybrid Q&A.

Submission Link for Research-Creation:

Note: **Submissions are reviewed on an ongoing basis.** The availability of spaces for presentations and research-creation showcases are therefore based on a first-submitted-first-accepted basis.

Important Dates

RESEARCH-CREATION Proposal Deadline Friday 5th January 2024
SYMPOSIUM Abstract Submission DeadlineFriday 5th January 2024
Final Notice of Acceptances Sent By:Friday, 12th January, 2024
Time in a Bottle Symposium and ShowcaseFriday, 2nd February, 2024

Contact Information

Derek Pasborg – Communications
Richy Srirachanikorn – Outreach

Released October 24th, 2023
Last updated: November 21st, 2023






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