Nostalgia (noun): a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations (via Oxford Language).
Is nostalgia simply a “wistful longing for the past?” An indicator of what is missing from the present? Nostalgia happens when we smell, taste, hear, touch and see parts of life that reconnect our present selves to our past experiences. Nostalgia is often a personal experience, but it can also be interpersonal. From popular fashion trends of the past to “throwback” top charts songs, we share memories with people we’ve never met without even knowing it. Shared nostalgia relates people to one another and is an underestimated form of interpersonal connection. What can be done with this form of relating to and connecting with those around us?
Missing: An Inquiry in Nostalgia Through the Lens of the Five Senses is an interactive project that explores this inquiry. On February 24, 2023, an interactive, multi-media art exhibition was held where participants were invited to experience various nostalgic smells, textures, tastes, sights, and sounds. This nostalgic stimulus was presented to participants through four sense-oriented interactions. Participants were encouraged to write down memories that came back while experiencing the event. This was done with the hope that one person’s memories could also spark feelings of nostalgia for other people.