In the following essay the reissue will be discussed as a contemporary art object by looking at three main aspects: The actual history and definition of the 'reissue' in general (1), the implications of remediation within a reissue (2) and the consequences of canon-building and retro-marketing (3). In current society, over-saturated with information and overloaded with a quest for finding value in recombining the past, the reissue is a common good. Historical objects no longer find any meaning in a prevalent practice with accepted rules of demeanor and aesthetics, but only in their relation to contemporary discourse. This research will shed some light on this tendancy.
In current society, over-saturated with information, overloaded with a quest for meaning and finding value in recombining past information and media, the reissue is a common good. Historical objects find new meaning not so much in a prevalent practice with accepted rules of demeanor and esthetics, but in their relation to contemporary discourse. Issuing objects is in itself the only universal practice available and this distincts the reissue from matters such as the reproduction, the simulacrum and the authentic original. In the following essay the reissue will be researched as a contemporary art object. My example cases are going to be video games from an analogue age that are being sold and distributed again through digital means in current times. For instance, the 'Virtual Console Games' for the Nintendo Wii and 3DS. The research will focus on three main aspects: The actual history of videogame distribution and the 'reissue in general', including it's relation to a practice to art history (1), the implications of remediation in a reissue and what is created in the process (2) and the notion of a canon created by marketing and the creation of a retro-chic videogame esthetic (3). All this with regard to digital media and the role emulators and distribution of information on videogames create.
What does it mean to be reissued? The 're'-part in the word 'reissue' gives us the clue that 'something' is repeated. What isn't exactly clear, of course one could say that the act of 'issuing' is repeated. 'To issue' something can mean a lot of things though. The most common notion of an issue is a number in a series, for instance a newspaper or magazine. An issue is also a subject for discussion and argument, in other words 'a relevant subject within a social framework which invokes discussion'. In this way we can understand 'issuing' in two ways, as simply giving, sending out or distributing information or media, for instance newspapers. In a different way, issuing can simply mean the act of 'making something'a issue'. In this way we have to understand issuing as a process in which something is made a subject within a social discussion, it is made relevant enough to be talked about.
When producing new media and information, the before mentioned issues of newspapers for instance this notion of 'the issue' and 'issuing' makes perfect sense. On the other side of the scale however there is this concept of becoming a 'non-issue'. Is this possible? A copy of an old newspaper is still called an issue while not being an issue in the second sense of the word. It is an ex-issue, only an issue in a historical sense. What is left is an obsolete object, a remnant of past times not partaking in contemporary discussion or discours. There is however a way for these objects to escape their obsoleteness, it is by becoming an issue again. How does something become an issue again? By being reissued of course. In this sense reissuing is nothing less than taking historic issues and issuing them again within a new time and a different discours.
As times change the meaning of issuing an historic object change. In this way the object of each 'reissue' actually adresses a different subject. This is possible because an exact copy of the original issue is not possible. There is always added something new in the process of reissuing. An exact reproduction of the historic object, for example a copy of an newspaper copy from 1941, would only become an issue again, instead of a replica, by being issued, which would mean being implemented into current times. The only way this is possible is through the use of contemporary frameworks and media. The core purpose of the replica is to be a copy as close as possible to the original historic object. The reissue actually wants to become part of contemporary history again.
This process of reissuing is a process of repurposing and porting media objects so as to fit new media. Porting is simply the process of adapting media objects so that they can be used within new media environment that are different from the ones for which they were originally designed. A port is not necessarily a reissue, because it can happen within one specific discourse and time while a reissue is always an historic concept. Reissuing usually does involve porting though. This porting is part of an economic and historic discourse, the reissuers implement the importance of a specific media object within a canon by reissuing it. The new environments get a sense of importance at the same time by incorporating the original media object and making it part of its discourse. In this way reissuing is a sense canon-creating and shows an attempt to write and shape an historic approach to an object.
The new incarnation of the media object is never the same due to its relation to its new environment and the historic implication it incorporates by being reissued. Being reissued is in itself a form of digital recombination of information and objects and the issue involved provokes the circulation of remediation. An issue is always echoed in debate and debate often takes the shape of new media objects. In this way an historic media object, through a reissue, can be the source of a new popular style or movement. This is the case with the case of 'retro', meaning that culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall post-modern past has become functionally or superficially the norm once again. A reissue can be part of retro-culture, while at the same time being a replica and a relic. One only has to look at the Italian Renaissance for more examples of this concept. The reissue can invoke simulacri, copies without originals, being old ideas and common concepts commodified to new media objects while never being the original or becoming an actual issue. In this way the reissue is very powerful.
What follows are examples and a more distinct look in what is added and supplemented within 'the reissue'.
Redundancy implicates a term served, a job well done and over, not to be taken up again. When people are considered, some look forward towards their redundancy as the ultimate reward for their past services. Others look in horror at their coming obsoleteness and fear the coming days of leisure. When objects are considered there is no such thing as a redundancy. Objects do not become obsolete after having delivered services for a certain amount of time.
No, objects become redundant as soon as there is a cultural shift in which another object becomes a trending topic and replaces the first one.
Unfortunately, human beings are not immune to being replaced by different persons and different objects themselves. People can be forced into redundancy through cultural shifts.
However, like the objects, redundancy does not go one on one with being useless and being completely destroyed. Objects and people in their redundant afterlife are able to slip through current trends by meaning of historic context, nostalgia and reissue.
One of the main appeals of old media and people is simply their belonging to another era that raises romantic imagery of past times. There is always this slight hope in something different and the past is as good a substitute for any imagined discourse as any.
As such, reissued objects are always fuelled by their ‘other-ness’, when something is still recognizable as something in contemporary discourse it holds no popular appeal.
At the same time, the reissued object, because of its historic value, distorts any academic concept of true history. The object is shaped to appeal to us and this creates a value different from the original. This value can be controlled by corporations, or to put it more general ‘those who reissue’. Yet, any trending reissue becomes marketed and exploited in the end. For example, meme-culture creates its own values and trends, but the popular reissue in current society, outside of the bulletin board, is powered by merchandise, music videos and whatnot. As such, the reissue finds its value always through marketing
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