Why do I still have a slide projector and a minidisc player?

There have been many instances where I have thought of a fresh appropriation for something created years back on a different device like a tape deck or minidisk player. These bits of sound (or in some cases, images) never made the "technological jump" with the rest of my digital luggage. There they rested, locked into their own proprietary format, inable to be quickly realized in a new contex, only available on an abandoned device. One may choose to sell outdated equipment on ebay or donate them to a charity. Not me.

This got me to thinking how certain playback devices offer unique player-specific qualities. The cassette player adds an unexpected hiss to its recordings. The crackle of a scratched LP. The striped visual noise of a VCR whose tracking is a bit off. Likewise, there are recording-specific attributes, those that are encoded into the work at the time of the recording. Film does not look like video.

From wikipedia:

"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived, creating subtle change over time.

How might the media itself posses meaning regardless of the content it stores? Furthermore, should this understanding of media and their specific qualities belong in the communication designer’s toolset? What if a movie that is set in the eighties is shot on a technology from that same time period, for instance on betamax?

In a recent exhibit at Art House in Castleberry Hill during LE FLASH, an artist displayed ephemera related to the Challenger explosion. The choice of slide projectors and 8mm film projectors added a layer of meaning that transgressed the content itself. It allowed you to see and experience the event as though you were in that 1986 elementary school classroom when the tragedy occurred.

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