The purpose of this paper is to rethink video artist Mark Leckey’s work Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999) in the light of the recent phenomenon of decades-old “old skool rave” videos posted, viewed and commented on, on YouTube. Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore fuses fragments of found footage from the 1970s Northern Soul movement to the early days of Acid House parties. Manipulating the speed of the decayed VHS tapes that constitute the source material, and creating a disjunction between the jerky images and the intrinsically disjointed sound, the video effectively evokes the malfunctioning memories of a “technostalgic” body – deeply affected by the audiovisual material yet unable to reproduce the original event.
Charlotte Higgins (2015) suggests that Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore “anticipated the YouTube generation’s easy manipulation of digital sources. It activated a painful yearning for a recent past just out of reach”. Posted on YouTube by the artist himself, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore can now also be said to constitute a part of a virtual community whose nostalgic discourse seems to clash with the very logic of the source material itself. As Simon Reynolds (2011) points out, rave culture’s ecstatic imperative of dancing into the future contradicts the nostalgic tendency that it developed nonetheless. As such, it is a powerful example of our culture’s obsession with its immediate past. In addition to discussing the videos, this paper will address the discursive laments for a “superior past” that dominate the YouTube comments, suggesting that this “retro” culture carries very specific corporeal implications.
Originally defined as a pathological condition, nostalgia has been reframed as a cultural geist. For Jean Baudrillard (2010), nostalgia for the real was precisely what fuelled its disappearance, while Fredric Jameson (1991) saw it as an affectless and depersonalised style. Digitisation has generated a specific “analog nostalgia” (Marks 2002) that has become an intrinsic component of popular culture. Laura U. Marks suggests that it expresses a “longing for analog physicality.” Paradoxically, nostalgia for bodily experience produced through the digital remediation of “old skool rave” videos is precisely what keeps the technostalgic viewer immobile in front of the screen. Engaging with these different definitions of nostalgia, the paper will thus suggest that Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore and the “old skool rave” videos produce technostalgic bodies that are stuck somewhere between a virtual Saint Vitus Dance and a veritable paralysis suggestive of a more general tendency of our culture and age.
FilmForum 2016 XXIII International Film Studies Conference, Gorizia, 9-15 March 2016.