Looking back down at childhood

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This is Goomba. He’s a fairly marginal character from a video game franchise whose true creative peak was 20 years ago.

But you can find him at Elsewhere, squeezed between a few plush dolls and a couple of plastic dinosaurs, overlooking a carefully arranged clutter of relics from yesteryear.

You can also find him burned deep into my childhood memories, part of the Super Mario Brothers cast I absorbed with a Nintendo controller and recreated in dozens of drawings, collages and maps that hung on my bedroom walls.

Finding these sorts of connections is what brought my class to Elsewhere, a “living museum” and artist collaborative where  10 attics’ worth of old items are assembled and rearranged into new patterns on a regular basis. It was here that my class arrived hoping to discover inspirations for a personal bio project that touches upon everything from professional experience to family ancestory. For me at least, finding symbols to represent my current livelihood or that of my relatives proved elusive, with all the trinkets and instillations more an external curiosity than an internal revelation.

But for trips back into childhood, the place had plenty of hidden portals. There were toys, household objects and pieces of print media that forged a direct connection with years gone by.

It’s not a bad state of mind to return to, especially with numerous interactive media projects on the horizon. The creativity and boundless imagination that served us well as kids also fuels much of the activity in the online media world.

Images and words there aren’t just seen, they’re redrawn, repurposed and reorganized into new content. The same way we brought our favorite toys to life and gave them new worlds to roam, we now have the option of taking adult cultural touchstones and spinning them into new memes that live and breath on social media and social networking sites.

With only a half-hour to snap pictures at Elsewhere, I didn’t have time to figure out how to recreate Goomba. But if I make a return visit, the imagination will kick back into gear. Maybe I’ll put him up for a fight against Gonzo.

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