Technology advances rapidly, with our computers and cell phones becoming outdated practically the moment we start using them. Something newer, faster, better is already on sale, making a cell phone from a decade ago look positively alien.
There’s a sentimental pull that emanates from the obsolete hunks of electronics that once served as cutting edge visions of the future and Portland-based photographer Jim Golden harnesses that nostalgia in his new photography series “Relics of Technology.”
The series began when Golden happened across one of the first cell phones in an Oregon thrift store. The brick model seemed obscenely large by today’s standards. Soon, he found himself drawn to other bits of outdated technology. He began collecting things like punch cards and SyQuest hard drives from eBay and thrift stores. “The fascination was equal parts nostalgia for the forms, and curiosity as to what had become of them,” he writes in his artist statement.
He shoots still lifes of each object placed against a plain colored background. Many of the items had survived in pristine condition–some of the disks were still in their packaging–minimizing the digital retouching necessary to give the products their uniform sheen (though some of the geometric patterns of stacked disks were made in post-production).
The result is a charming ode to the objects we’ve left behind. In GIF form, the film projectors and rotary phones become a delightful reminder of technological history.
Yet there’s a bittersweet aspect to the series, too–many of these products have become unusable pieces of plastic waste. As computing power improves, eclipsing the technology of years past, the memories we’ve saved to floppy disks and SyQuest drives and VHS tapes become, in some cases, irretrievable. “These photos are reminders that progress has a price and our efforts have an expiration date,” as Golden puts it.