Old Gadgets

It’s strange to think that something that was made as recently as 2000 could now be a relic of the past, a strange reminder of technology most of us no longer use.

I teach media studies and communications at a university, and I’m interested in the links between creativity and technology. One of my hobbies—ironically, to get away from that world—is painting.  I’ve been doing a series I call “Old Gadgets”.

My latest painting in this series, finished last night, is “Old Gadgets No. 3”, which features my mother’s Panasonic cassette player-recorder. It was state of the art when my parents bought it in 1973 at the Santa Monica mall in Los Angeles, where we were living at the time. At the same time, I got a smaller cassette deck, which I was very proud of but which is long gone. Now I wish I’d kept it!

Old Gadgets #3: Panasonic cassette player-recorder, 1973; Sony Walkman, 2000. Acrylics and Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens on treated board.
Old Gadgets #3: Panasonic cassette player-recorder, 1973; Sony Walkman, 2000. Acrylics and Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens on treated board. © Caron Eastgate Dann, 2013

The Sony Walkman in the painting was bought by my husband to take on an overseas holiday in 2000. Remember when cassette players used occasionally to “eat” the tape, and you had to carefully unravel it?

Old Gadgets No. 1: my manual typewriter, bought in Bangkok, 1991. On the case is the German version of my novel, The Occidentals (Das Erbst Der Schwestern). I wrote the first draft of this novel many years before it was published, on this typewriter. Acrylics on board.

Old Gadgets No. 1: my manual typewriter, bought in Bangkok, 1991. On the case is the German version of my novel, The Occidentals (Das Erbst Der Schwestern). I wrote the first draft of this novel many years before it was published, on this typewriter. Acrylics on board. © Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

“Old Gadgets No. 1” features my manual typewriter, which I then gave to a friend who collects such things. I bought this typewriter in 1991, when I was living in Bangkok, because we had frequent power cuts during the rainy season and I wanted to be able to keep writing. Remember how messy and annoying it was to change the typewriter ribbon?

“Old Gadgets No. 2” is my Canon Eos film camera, bought in 1999, and various accessories. I used it until 2005, but it was already well out of date then. Remember those Kodak print packs you’d pick up and excitedly see what surprise gems you had taken on holiday?

Old Gadgets No. 2: my film-era camera, 1999. Acrylics on board. The prints are from a trip I did to China in 2001. The slides are the only ones I ever took, on a trip to Vietnam in about 1996.

Old Gadgets No. 2: my film-era camera, 1999. Acrylics on board. The prints are from a trip I did to China in 2001. The slides are the only ones I ever took, on a trip to Vietnam in 1996. © Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

I have a drawer at home where I keep old gadgets I might want to include in a painting. In the drawer are a purse-size address book, a tiny Motorola cell phone from 2003, 3D glasses that are still current but will be relics within a few years, and a TEAC external floppy disc drive unit in see-through turquoise, which matched my iMac in 1999. Apple had decided, ahead of its time, not to include floppy disc drives in its computers, so we all had to buy these little gadgets.

I wonder what the next thing I relegate to my “old gadgets” drawer will be?

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11 thoughts on “Old Gadgets

  1. My parents had the identical cassette player. When I moved into my first apartment they gave it to me. I had it forever and eventually gave it to a cousin who loves memorabilia. It still works.

  2. Pingback: The Colour of the Mountains | The Crayon Files

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