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Archeology of the 21st Century: A Look Into Our Recent Past

A look into the "Archeology of the 21st Century" by José Antonio Martínez exhibit, which tells us about how fast technology changes and how objects can become obsolete through photographs
By The News · 31 of August 2017 15:12:27
A photograph depicting the majority of the objects that are part of the "Archeology of the 21st Century" Exhibition by José Antonio Martínez in the Patricia Conde Gallery, A photograph depicting the majority of the objects that are part of the "Archeology of the 21st Century" Exhibition by José Antonio Martínez in the Patricia Conde Gallery, photo: The News/Maria Trueba de Buen

What do you think of when you hear the word archeology? Most people would tell you they think of ancient eras, of Mesopotamia and Egypt, of the ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome. Others will tell you of fictional characters like Rick and Evie from “The Mummy” saga or Nathan Drake from NaughtyDog’s internationally known video game series “Uncharted,” or Lara Croft, another video-game character. There’s also the most famous archeologist who goes by the name of Indiana Jones. That sounds about right doesn’t it? But what if we told you that archeology doesn’t just mean things in our ancient past? What if archeology can be objects that we know from this millennium?

The actual definition of the word archeology is “the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes.” Here at the News we had the pleasure to take a look at the “Archeology of the XXI Century” by José Antonio Martínez in the Patricia Conde Gallery. Martínez is a Mexican photographer who has come up with the very creative concept of describing our reality with a series of photographs. With this project he focused on examining objects that were intrinsically important to the turn of the century and yet thanks to the ever growing power of technology have become mostly obsolete.

Photograph from the “Archeology of the 21st Century” by José Antonio Martínez, depicting the photographer’s notes on the project. Photo: The News/Maria Trueba de Buen

These objects have played an important role in our history and Martínez has used the Pop Aesthetic format to give new meaning to the word archeology. All the photographs are in different formats and you can even find photographs of the pages in which the photographer has written down his notes regarding the exhibition. The exhibit is a small exhibit and it doesn’t take much time to get through it all, but that doesn’t make it any less important. This exhibit can help us reflect on how fast technology evolves, how fast our own lives can evolve.

The photographs contain objects that many people from older generations would recognize, but younger generations might not be familiar with. Floppy disks and fax machines were things once used on a regular basis. I remember what my first iPod looked like and my first Nokia phone. One of the many things I loved about this exhibit is that I owned a great majority of these now obsolete items. I had a walkie-talkie, I listened to music with my walkman, I remember using cassette tapes, I still have the third Harry Potter book in cassette format, and I recall how you had to turn them around and rewind them in order to listen to more. Nowadays, you just have to click a button and voilà. These elements of our past as just as important as what is in the history books.

A part of the “Archeology of the 21st Century” exhibit showing the objects as seen in the photographs. Photo: The News/Maria Trueba de Buen

They are also a perfect example of how fast technology can change; 10 years ago blackberries and fax machines were a part of every day life now they are just remnants of a time that has passed. Even within a generation, things can change. The oldest millennials remember these objects as clear as day and yet the youngest of millennials weren’t privy to a lot of them. It’s always a good thing to have memories of our past and I’m thankful to José Antonio Martínez for giving us this beautiful exhibit that reminds us in a clever way of how things go. Like Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The exhibit is free to the public and can be found in the Patricia Conde Gallery in San Miguel Chapultepec. The exhibit will close on September 15, 2017. It’s definitely worth a look so be sure to check it out!