Old Fire Station Blog

News, happenings and goings on from the Old Fire Station, Oxford

Adventures in Lo-Fi: Imagistic Recreations of a Modern Obsession with all things Vintage, Craft, Rustic

“It’s 8:30, according to my (inferior) 90s style digitally-faced Casio watch, and my partner’s (inordinately superior) ‘real’ 70s leather-strapped wrist-piece. We swing by the local artisan bakery, picking up a couple of campagnaro loaves for later on, before ambling slowly down the high street, pausing here and there to leaf through the wares of charity shops, before picking out a book each with which to settle down to some fresh, hand ground, wood-roasted coffee, as far removed from freeze dried as can be. We drink, respectively, an espresso and a flat white, and posture ourselves as inhabitants of this local coffee house, and certainly not Maxwell’s house.

Our loaves have just gone down a treat for lunch and so the afternoon is spent acquiring fineries (and various tat) from the local vintage stores. Flamboyantly fluorescent trousers and distinctly unique tees, of old sports brands and faded sponsors’ logos end up in our re-used charity shop plastics from our morning stroll. All the while an eye is kept upon the latest Twitter feeds, and the articles that are most read in the Guardian.

In the evening, a trip to our local microbrewery ensures much mirth and bluster before we tread carefully to a vegan deli, to delight ourselves with such delectables as chicory-smoked aubergine and dairy free falafel. We talk eloquently about novels, intense Andalusian folk music, and the festivals we eye up for the summer.”

Lo-Fi Exhibition Credit Chris-Benfield (1)

Image: Chris Benefield

 

There is something in the images of Lo-Fi, which capture the everyday and fairly greasy realities of cities and people and nature, that ties in with the lifestyle of the modern, uber-hip, hyper-conscious dandy. Though somewhat mocking, the tone of the above portrayal does not intend to offend, instead stirring questions as to the nature of this modern obsession with reducing life back down to basic pleasures, and revelling in things that are far removed from digital tampering. I think that there is housed, in the instinct to enjoy things slowly and naturally, a strong tendency against the strange, alienating discomforts of the mass-produced, multi-national consumer object. Similarly, the call to arms that is ‘shoot from the hip’, attempts to incite spontaneity amongst the film-photography masses, levelling all events into art.

In its own, by now fairly cliched way, the vintage, rustic, organic, crafted, unique imagery of modern counter-culture suggests a loud and somewhat hopeful stirring against the age of computer surveillance, international inequality, and global humanistic and environmental crises. And even though the Lo-Fi photograph, and its chief exponent Lomography, have fostered a brand image, with marketable products, they have done so in such a way as to encourage each person to marry these products with their own, individual creativity, and utilise the lenses, cameras and films to capture segments of their world.

Laura Hill-Lines

Image: Laura Hill-Lines

In many ways, the Lo-Fi ‘movement’ has managed to skilfully balance the rustic and the networked – Lomography’s website hosts an interactive world map, where photographers can upload their ‘analogue’ images into the digital web space – and this may just be the only way to go for vividly modern and yet soulfully antique works of photography, literature & art. Certainly, the impact of actually printing these chemico-mechanically engineered photographs is far more rewarding than an evening’s trawl through Instagram.

 

Step away from your screen and head to The Gallery at the Old Fire Station to visit, in person, the ‘Lo-Fi’ exhibition – from now until June 14th, open Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 17.00.

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