Nostalgia is a powerful fuel, we comfortably relapse into memories when we’re faced with uncertain times, unknown danger and societal threat. Reflecting on the last couple of years, we have spent a considerable amount of time with nothing to do but recline backwards into our memories, longing for those halcyon days.
Tamagotchi Kids was a two week exhibition (16th till 29th January), and the first in a series of planned collaborative exhibitions by artist/curator J D Nealon from The Network Project. This collaboration alongside artists Jamie Steedman and Josh Rowell interrogates the power of nostalgia using poster art and perspective analysis of the Tamagotchi. Although not singularly about the digital pet craze, the eponymous Tamagotchi was used to spark the initial discussion.
At the heart of it all is The Network Project’s long-term plan for collaboration between artists, curators, galleries and audiences. Nealon’s agenda is to break down the class divide that separates people from having an emotional connection to the world of art. With plans to build a global reach through art exhibitions, Nealon hopes to expand the outlook of future exhibitions through progressive collaborations.
The exhibition poses the question of what magnifies nostalgia for each generation, suggesting that by channelling our ancient memories we can reshape them into the dream we wished for, to finally become the Disney-inspired hero we hoped to be.
It could be argued there’s no stronger bonding agent than nostalgia. Where much of social media drives us apart via walls of difference, shared cultural memories help demolish those differences, replacing them with a warmth found only in a collective of memories.
In addition to observing the power of nostalgia, the thought provoking exhibition took into account the unavoidable consumerism that powers it. It interrogates the way that capitalist society monetises a generation’s positive memory for profit.
The exhibition’s poster art remembers once forgotten cultural artefacts, and yet the cultural hegemony of brands such as Coca Cola or Nike Air Max (that you were convinced could make you run faster) remains today. Cassette tapes, Pepsi Max, Top 40 on a Sunday, Noel’s House Party; each relic is associated with positive memories, and yet each are designed to enhance the profits of the corporation or creator of the brand; positive memories powered by brand recognition.
Tamagotchi Kids at The Alchemy Experiment was a hit of pure nostalgia and a deeper dive into the power structures that help fuel it. Keep an eye out for more from The Alchemy Experiment and The Network Project.
Thanks to curator and artist J.D Nealon, collaborative artists Jamie Steedman and Josh Rowell, guest mediator Dr. Kirsteen MacDonald (Creative Scotland & Chapter Thirteen), and the staff at The Alchemy Experiment for an insightful night.