In Defense of the Analog, Kid
When you think about physical art, what turns you on?
Maybe it's art's sensation on your fingertips? Its’ sometimes heady scent in your nostrils? The familiar syllables of its whispers or its screams?
Yes, that’s it.
The push of the typewriter's key; a book’s must as you open a long-shut tome; the drop of the needle on vinyl…
Stop, the blog post whispers, its sweet warm breath against your earlobe. You haven’t even bought me dinner.
And yet, all we’re talking about are the creative virtues of anti-technological advancement. Analog machines. The age of simplicity. A yearning for yesteryear.
We’ve been chatting here at Loud Coffee Press and feel that there’s a reason that writers, artists, musicians, photographers, and creative types cling to general technological simplicity (despite our beloved smartphone and laptop attachments, which are, of course, understandable).
Raise a virtual hand, better yet, hit the heart button below, if you feel love for all things physical in the create-o-sphere: the grooves on 12-inch vinyl, the Palomino Blackwing pencil's soft graphite core, the ink spread from a TWSBI Fountain Pen, the give of a mechanical keyboard (connected to your still usable because not-frequently-updated Apple Thunderbolt Display). These technologies aren't new, even if they're fresh versions of decades-old models.
We have a few theories as to why creatives are likely to keep one foot in the newish past.
Where were you when you turned out your first piece of emotional typewriter poetry? Can you close your eyes and get back to that place where vinyl music notes crackled through a set of speakers, or the shutter snapped on your first film camera? Who read you your first book? What did that book smell like? Those feelings are not readily replaced by streaming services and the digital deliverables of plug-in devices. There's massive emotion tied to things like scent, where the brain's amygdala and hippocampus closely link smell and memory, forming intense emotional bonds.
Despite our collective introverted nature, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy identifying as creative types. Stacking our shelves with books, tagging our typewriters with stickers, or displaying our choice writing utensils shows those around us who we are by voyeuristic display. It allows us to chose an identity, hold that identity, and show it off. Passerbys can look at our amassed items and get a sense of our tastes, thereby opening the doors for conversation and shared creative moments.
It creates the hobby.
It’s addicting, but it provides us with an outlet. Bookstores, record stores, fairs, vintage markets… these are the places that we not only spend and collect, but we face-to-face network and meet like-minded individuals. To move everything into the online universe would do the marketing aspect of our industry a massive disservice, because, well, please don’t autograph my Kindle. In person, we meet our audience, and we meet those we admire. The thrills of the hunt and the sell create human contact.
In meta-terms, it decorates walls and shelves, becoming art in and of itself. In fact, if we take books and music as the examples here, the deliverables in the digital sphere (streaming and downloadables) are the barebones products. It’s nearly impossible to compare the complete artistic package of a hardcover book with its full-color dust jacket to the paper-white pages of an e-reader. Have you ever displayed album art? Spray-painted a typewriter gold? Art begets art.
Art's physicality is inspiring to the senses. If you've ever know the burnout of creative overload, you may also have experienced the surge that comes with the one spark that brings you back to life. Sometimes, it's uncapping your favorite pen, or cracking the spine on a brand new journal. Perhaps it's opening a fresh file on non-distraction writing technology like Ulysses. What it's not is usually digital clutter, but, rather, the feel of something in your hands that says, "make me, mold me, shape me, write me, sing me, play me."
We're not anti-technology. Let's make that clear. We love that you're reading this blog on your digital device and we've been able to set it up on a platform that requires no coding expertise. But, we value that technology itself is yearning for simpler times. Computer programs that are clean and distraction-free; the resurgence of new devices that mimic older word processing programs in sleeker, cloud-connecting packages; newly-released music on vinyl; fountain pens that are only messy due to user error and not the pen itself.
And, we’re not the only ones feeling the tech-stress. Scrolling Twitter after our iPhones recently updated (again), we came across this Tweet from our friend, writer/artist Novyl: “I reckon the world is rolling towards what I have coined ‘Technology Fatigue.’ There’s only SO much we can keep up with before we raise our hands and say ‘F*** it!’”
Our ink-stained hands are raised.