Dead Tech

Scarlet Li
“I can’t wait to get the new Mariah CD!”
– Childhood Friend

In this past year or so, I have found myself more and more nostalgically attached to things; especially things that really don’t have any practical use. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older (even though I’m only 21), or if it’s because my life has been going through a lot of changes, but tactile objects have become one of my main forms of “memory”.

When thinking back to the technology of this past decade, for some odd reason one of the first things I thought about was the overhead projector. You know those giant metal projectors that teachers used to use in elementary school with the acetate sheets? Just incase you don’t know what it is, here’s a picture I think for many of us, this specific object brings back a memory that we never even knew we had. Even other objects like a CD seem so far removed from our current day culture. With this in mind, I was pretty determined to get my hands on some of these old tech.

After a disappointing trip to our schools Equipment Center, I made a quick Google search to see if there were any second-hand stores that sold an overhead projector. Not going to lie, I didn’t have much hope for finding this damn thing. But, to my surprised I soon found a link to an E-waste warehouse located in Brooklyn. I called before heading there and the guy confirmed that they not only had one, but multiple overhead projectors. You can imagine my excitement.

I really wasn’t ready for what I was about to experience. Rows of the warehouse packed with old technology; ranging from old radios to the Apple iBook. Baskets filled with film cameras, and shelves of old video games and VHS tapes. It was like walking through a real life time machine.

Even though I would’ve loved to bring home everything that caught my eyes, it’s simply not physically or financially possible. I ultimately decided on a few items: the overhead projector (of course), a Mariah Carey CD, a Summer Heights High DVD, and Cooking Mama for Wii.

Now I know these objects might not seem that “obsolete”, but let’s be real here. When was the last time you bought a DVD and loaded it into your DVD player, let alone a CD player? With the raise of digital streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, all of these objects are no longer essential in our daily lives. Even the Wii, which was at one point the most popular home video game console, was officially discontinued in 2013.

Now that I had the overhead projector in my possession, I had to do something with it.

The entire process of printing images onto acetate sheets took a surprisingly long time, so please enjoy these high quality photo captures of the projections.

These mundane objects somehow manage to elicit so many memories and emotions for so many people. Rather it be your friend who loves Mariah, or the first video game your parents bought you.

Even if they’re no longer physically useful, they still represent the culture of that specific time period. When these objects become obsolete, it becomes a direct translation of how our society is evolving and transforming.

Here’s some bonus content featuring a Star Wars VHS tape that I bought along with everything else, but didn’t quite fit into the 2010s. I thought y'all should still see it anyways. Enjoy :)
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