Pages 121-133 | Published online: 02 Aug 2016

This article presents an analysis of the phenomenon of “retro” digital photography, informed by aspects of postmodern theory, notably Jameson’s assertion that postmodernity is characterized by “nostalgia for the present,” and the shift toward nonessentialist conceptions of identity. The article argues for a rigorous application of these concepts and suggests that the popularity of “retro” effects used in smartphone photography represents an effort to stabilize images that are in fact immaterial and unstable; to endow the insubstantial and transitory signs by which life histories are registered with an aura of materiality and permanence.

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