Despite the constant technological advances that enable easy and unlimited access to data, fascination with physical forms of media does not seem to diminish. Digital audio files could replace physical media as a means of storing data, yet we still cling to the archaic and fragile medium of records. In fact, vinyl sales are on the rise.
Titled in homage to Marshall McLuhan, Massage explores the present-day significance of obsolete media in the form of a multimedia publication. It is formatted as a boxed compilation of items, including samples of selected media that are technically outdated but are still fetishized in popular culture. Each media sample contains information about itself, which can be accessed as the reader physically interacts with the item. Complementing these media samples are booklets that examine their nostalgic value and aesthetic appeal, as well as the correlation between their form and function. Items are labeled with corresponding filename extensions, such as mp3 and txt, highlighting the distinction between physical media and digital files. This project also extends onto the web, offering the virtual experience of using various forms of outdated audio and video equipment.
McLuhan believed that it is the very moment when a medium is rendered obsolete that it becomes art. Thus, the erosion of a medium’s utility allows us to appreciate certain formal qualities that were invisible before. Massage is a guide to understanding and appreciating these aesthetic carriers of information.