Michael Myerz, 29, an experimental hip-hop artist from Atlanta who owns a modest collection of VHS tapes, finds the medium inspiring. Part of what Mr Myerz looks for in his work, he said, is to replicate the sounds of a “weird and obscure VHS movie that I would have seen at my friend’s house late at night after that his parents fell asleep. ” He described his work as “mi-lo-fi”. “The quality is raw but warm and full of flavor,” he said of VHS.
For collectors like April Bleakney, 35, owner and artist of Ape Made, a fine art and screen printing company in Cleveland, nostalgia plays an important role in the collection. Ms. Bleakney, who owns between 2,400 and 2,500 VHS tapes, sees them as a way of connecting her to the past. She inherited it from her grandmother, a children’s librarian with an extensive collection.
Ms. Bleakney’s VHS tapes are “a huge nostalgia,” she said, for a child of the 1980s. “I think we were the last to grow up without the Internet, cellphones or social media,” and clinging to “old analog ways,” she said, feels “very natural.”
“I think people are nostalgic for the aura of the VHS era,” said Thomas Allen Harris, 58, creator of the “Family Pictures USA” television series and senior lecturer in African American studies and studies. film and media at Yale University. “So many cultural touchpoints are anchored there,” Mr. Harris said of the 1980s. It was, he thinks, “a time when, in some ways, Americans knew who we were. “.
The VHS tape, of course, had a shelf life. Developed in Japan in 1976, introduced in the United States in 1977, and essentially discontinued in 2006 when films stopped converting to tape, this medium has brought all kinds of entertainment home.
Not only could movie connoisseurs walk the aisles of video stores on Friday nights, but they could also compose home movies, from art to silly. In an era before DVR technology, they could record television episodes with the now defunct VCR recording function.