Contemporary culture is full of instances of remastering a past aesthetic to embrace the demands of today. Think of this Macrotrend as layering new incarnations of old themes on top of already existing, timeless aesthetics. For example, the original Volkswagon Beetle was conceptualized by Adolf Hitler in the early 1930’s as “the people’s car.”
Inspite of its originator, the Beetle, did in fact become the people’s car not only in Germany, but worldwide. The modern reinvention of the VW Beetle made its debut in 1994, proving to be just as popular as its predecessor, and now boasts the tagline “Still the car that started it all.”
Another example of remastering an old classic for modern-day appeal is found in the 2010 film Tron: Legacy, which is an updated, digitally modernized sequel to the 1982 Sci-Fi classic. Tron: Legacy uses many of the precepts of the original Tron film but is enhanced with cutting-edge technologies such as 3D filming, digital sculpting, and modern audio and visual effects, to make this version’s rendition of humans physically entering cyberspace even more believable.
There is a bold line between the Remastered Macrotrend and the Vintage Macrotrend; Vintage involves taking things directly from the past and leaving them intact, while placing them anachronistically in the present setting, while Remastering nods at an item’s predecessor while redesigning it into something current.
Rather than reawakening an item from a decades-long slumber, Remastering requires innovation: pulling up from the roots a life that began in the past and replanting it in contemporary culture where it can grow into an entirely new species, therefore allowing a classic design to morph into something with cutting-edge market appeal. The most important trait of the Remastered Macrotrend is taking the old and recreating it into something fresh and current.
The concepts and planning behind films like Tron and vehicles like the Volkswagen Beetle are perfect examples of very original thought and design. Before they initially came onto the scene, virtually no one had done anything similar.
These concepts were brand new, and because of the lack of open source sharing that we have today, they couldn’t have been adaptations of previous models. These classic concepts are part of what make up the fabric of our human identity. They provide context, and a deep, multi-faceted meaning to our past and our present.
Rather than moving on from the old and leaving these cherished items in the past, we’ve embraced the idea of layering new meaning onto old concepts by re-envisioning and reinterpreting them through our contemporary lens. Our current culture has a complex artistic, scientific, and creative history, which gives today’s innovators and designers a lot to draw on as we evolve creations of the past into updated, more usable products for today’s consumer.
“Rather than moving on from the old and leaving these cherished items in the past, we’ve embraced the idea of layering new meaning onto old concepts…”
The word “remastered” instantly brings to mind digital enhancements: taking an old film or sound recording and touching it up, so that it meets our current listening and viewing capabilities. Like adding color enhancements to an old black and white film, remastering something out of the past allows us to see the original work with new eyes, to experience it as a separate entity altogether. The new work is truly a reinterpretation of the original form.
No industry touches upon the remastered Macrotrend more than the film industry. Recycled content, sequels, remakes, re-releases… they’re all under the umbrella of remastering. Even the shift to Blu-Ray can be seen as part of the trend, as old titles are given new clarity and more special features with the capabilities of Blu-Ray technology.
While some remastered or re-enacted films lose the truth and beauty of the original through enhancements and new interpretations, many achieve both critical and box office success, as seen in 2011’s True Grit (a remake of the 1969 film based on the 1968 novel of the same name) which was hailed as better than the original due to its up-to-date direction and improved acting.
Remakes continue to populate the film industry with no end in sight, effectively illustrating the concept of the Remastered Macrotrend.
Naturally, the same trends have been developing in the music industry over the past several years. Run DMC’s 1986 remastering of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” proves the success of the Remastered Macrotrend. Run DMC’s recording went down in history as the first hip hop song to ever make it onto a Billboard chart when it hit the Top 5.
Girl Talk, a D.J. famous for digital sampling, includes mashups in all of his live sets and recordings. Sampling from such modern artists as 50 Cent, Flo Rida and Jay-Z, and layering their tracks over the works of classic artists like Billy Idol, Modern English, and Herbie Hancock, Girl Talk is truly a master of the mashup, successfully combining old and new tracks for a completely original sound that speaks directly to today’s audience.
Likewise, the band Scissor Sisters’ cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” keeps the lyrics and melody of the original track, but adds funk/synth sounds and disco beats, thereby turning the insightful yet “numbing” 1970’s classic into a glamrock club song.
A great example of adding contemporary meaning to a classic song is found in Radiohead’s cover of the 1977 Carly Simon hit, “Nobody Does it Better.” Radiohead’s version reveals the haunting, sorrowful intention of the song in a way that Simon’s original recording doesn’t, while keeping the melody’s optimism intact. Simon’s lyrics and melodies haven’t changed, but when reinterpreted through Radiohead’s signature melancholy sound, the track offers deeper insight into both the era it was first recorded, and the emotional landscape of today’s listeners.
While cover songs have been cropping up for decades, paying attention to the way older classics are remastered through the voice and sound of a contemporary performer reveals that modern listeners are asking for a reinterpretation of their roots–only this time with an updated, re-envisioned take on them. This type of remastering sweeps together memories, nostalgia and personal history and repackages them in a contemporary context that reaches familiar and new-to-the-scene listeners alike.
Rather than allowing products and ideas of the past to collect dust, the Remastered Macrotrend encourages us to revive and recreate classic concepts by bringing them up-to-date for today’;s consumer demands.
“By adopting the mindset of the Remastered Macrotrend we are able to use the advantage time gives us to allow for cherished and well-loved products to become new again…”
This Macrotrend asks us to enhance the original to make it new, fresh, more exciting, and more in touch with today’s consumers. By Remastering, we keep the layers of meaning and nostalgia classic products already own, and add new opportunities for connection and inspiration, often creating a catalyst for the rebirth of an old, out-of-date trend.
Time moves at a pace that we are constantly struggling to keep up with. By adopting the mindset of the Remastered Macrotrend we are able to use the advantage time gives us to allow for cherished and well-loved products to become new again, as revived, re-imagined items today’s consumers will want to make their own.