VHS and Vinyl: Why People Love Retro Media

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

From the graininess of Super 8 film to the glitchiness of magnetic tape, the flaws of old media formats have become their greatest strength. In the latest episode of the PBS Off Book series, creators and collectors wax poetic about their favorite analog items.

Photographer Eilon Paz, whose Dust & Grooves project documents all things vinyl, explains that records shape not just how music sounds but how you experience it: "You have to take it out, you have to put it on the turntable, you have to put the needle on -- these are all actions that demand attention from you." He theorizes that while CDs threatened to make records obsolete, the shift to MP3s has spawned nostalgia for physical objects. This short documentary, produced by Kornhaber Brown for PBS, includes interviews with film professor Al Nigrin, Ryan Martin of Dias Records, Rebecca Cleman of Electronic Arts Intermix, and David Bias of the Impossible Project, which rescued the last Polaroid production facility in order to keep producing instant film. 

While the digital-physical dichotomy feels a bit forced in some of the interviews -- digital offers its own imperfections and creative opportunities -- the documentary makes a compelling case that old media will never die.

For more episodes from PBS Off Book, visit http://pbsarts.tumblr.com/.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/vhs-and-vinyl-why-people-love-retro-media/264916/