The metaphor of using everyday objects to note the passing of time is nothing new. Some of us mark calendars, others focus on the seasons. As a child, my every afternoon was marked with the closing line "Like sand in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives." Poet TS Eliot used coffee spoons to measure out a lifetime in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock to show how the narrator goes from looking to disturb the universe to wondering if he should dare eat a peach, until he finally questions if his mundane life is what he intended at all.
Nostalgia is another way to mark time. More than our personal photos, finding a vintage package of cereal, a childhood toy, or a retro lamp brings us back to a point in our collective consciousness. Members of an entire generation can spend hours reliving details of pop culture, both big and small. I myself keep a can of Octagon cleanser in my basement just as a reminder of the past.
Recently I saw some photographs which connect the nostalgia of vintage-model toy cars with a very modern and clean style. Cliff Gardiner and John Keller from photography studio Klph and John Studio showed one image recently at Ripe Art Gallery, and plan to have an upcoming summer show of many more. On several levels, I love the contrasts they offer: gritty and clean, child-like and ironic, simple and complex.