Kseniia Maksimova's Portfolio

beautiful lies

beautiful lies: study of aesthetic nostalgia

Belonging to so many disciplines within the Interdisciplinary program, I chose my undergraduate thesis to be a short film based research on the aesthetics of intertextuality within the narrative media context. The process of the study started with research  of supporting philosophy (Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast and Slow; Edmund Feldman Burke Varieties of Visual Experience: Art as Image and Idea; Immanuel Kant The Critique of Judgement; Stuart Sim Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought; Fredric Jameson Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism). The project (study and film both) are based in postmodern roots; the process of creating the narrative started with creating the visuals first. Beautiful Lies is an exploration of intertextual aesthetics, the very core of nostalgia which has become so popular in many media forms over the past few years. Now, with films like Ready Player OneLa La Land, and Stranger Things the audiences experience nostalgia more and more. In Beautiful Lies intertextual references are supposed to manufacture the sense of nostalgia, and place the audience in the state of 'psychic distance' (Feldman Burke, E.). The audiences' peak involvement in the narrative should follow alongside peak nostalgia. Audiences' perception data will be measured via survey at the screenings, focusing on understanding of intertextual references, understanding of own behavior and aesthetics, and involvement in visual narrative.

It is only through personal reference that we are able to relate to stories.





WUHO Gallery

April 6th (Friday) 


6518 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028


Woodbury University Ahmanson Main Space

April 12th (Thursday)


7500 N Glenoaks blvd, Burbank, CA 91504


to rsvp please email your contact info and # of seats to niakell@outlook.com

Twin Peaks s3e12 2.jpg

Reference image (twin peaks: the return)

Intertextuality is a term originally coined by Julia Kristeva, relating to the nature of basing one author's knowledge on the previously obtained knowledge from others. The term of intertextuality could be expended upon as most of our actions and behaviors are based on the nature of "beg, borrow, and steal". For instance, dreams are heavily based on the objects and subjects we see in reality, the context of a dream is never outside of our experience with reality. In the art world, intertextuality gives life to inspiration, homage, and direct references.

shot from beautiful lies

Intertextuality in Beautiful Lies has been crafted from various media fields. Everything involved in the story is in reference to something, whether a personal or a collective/universal reference. The visual styles of Tarantino, Lynch, and Esmail are clearly reproduced in a low budget student short.

shot by shot_Page_1.png
shot by shot_Page_2.png
shot by shot_Page_3.png

Intertextuality in Visual Narrative as Nostalgia Trigger.

Kseniia Maksimova

Woodbury University

May 2018





The release of season 1 of a Netflix show Stranger Things was quite a shock to the audiences: full of intertextual references and nostalgic reminders of the groovy 80s, it quickly gained popularity and positive responses. One by one films containing nostalgic intertextual elements started emerging over the past few years into the pool of larger audiences. Even though nostalgia has been used before in marketing and film/television, it now became more widespread across various elements of media, quite possibly to induce consumerist culture; move the consumers attention from materialistic value of the product to its sentimental value (its’ ability to allow you to experience positive emotions). In this study I will investigate what elements shape nostalgia in visual narratives, and how postmodernity reflected the increase in anxiety and dissatisfaction, which possibly resulted in increased use of nostalgia as consumerism motivation.  This is a mixed method study based on qualitative and quantitative measurements (survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions; observation) conducted within a positive environment as part of an aesthetic experience. The questions of the study are relevant to various disciplines including art (film particularly), philosophy (aesthetics; postmodernity; hyperreality), psychology (nostalgia; experience; consumerism). All these disciplines are not only beneficial but are crucial to the understanding of nostalgia acting as a mediator to so many mental functions, as well as to proper execution of required methods (positive environment; intertextual visual narrative as nostalgia trigger).



Glossary of terms

Aesthetic –      1. Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.

                         2. Giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty.

                         3. A set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement. (Oxford Dictionary)

Aesthetic Experience – vividly apprehended sum of a viewer’s perceptions of visual form on any given occasion.

Aesthetic Structure – the features of the art of perception which give wholeness and coherence to the experience of a work of art.

Anaesthetic – A substance that induces insensitivity to pain. (Oxford Dictionary)

Anti-foundationalism – a rejection of the ideas that there is foundation to our system of thought/belief, that lie beyond question, and that are necessary to the business of making value                                        judgments.

Cognitive Ease – One of the dials on the range between “Easy” and “Strained” regarding System 1’s attention to outside threats.

Cognition –     1. The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

                         2. A perception, sensation, idea, or intuition resulting from the process of cognition.

Consumerism - The preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods. (Oxford Dictionary)

Deconstruction – instability of language and systematic structure.

Dream – meaningful psychical formation, the expression of a reproduction activity.

Empathy - The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. (Oxford Dictionary)

Experience –   1.  Practical contact with and observation of facts or events.

                         2. The knowledge or skill acquired by a period of practical experience of something, especially that gained in a particular profession.

                         3. An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. (Oxford Dictionary)

Flow -  state of consciousness of complete involvement in an experience.

Funded Perception – accumulation and integration of perceptions which are separate in time. It becomes aesthetic experience when it occurs in connection with the unifying quality of                                         visual form.

Grand Narrative – a universal story or theory.

Hyperreal – more real than real.

                       a)      First-order Simulation – the representation of the real is only a representation.

                       b)      Second-order Simulation – blurs the boundaries between reality and representation by becoming ‘as real as real’.

                       c)      Third-order simulation – the fake precedes the real, it is more real than real.

Idealism –       1. The unrealistic belief in or pursuit of perfection.

                        2. In art or literature: the representation of things in ideal or idealized form.

                        3. Any of various systems of thought in which the objects of knowledge are held to be in some way dependent on the activity of mind. (Oxford Dictionary)

Intertextuality (literary) – 1. An implication that the relationship between texts is not singular (Julia Kristeva).

Intertextuality – an idea that all art, language, and knowledge is imitation.

Materialism - A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more                                      important than spiritual values. (Oxford Dictionary)

Modernism –   1. A movement towards modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas, especially in the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

                         2. A style or movement in the arts that aims to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms. (Oxford Dictionary)

Narrative – structure of the final product, story.

Nostalgia - A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past. (Oxford Dictionary)

Pastiche - An artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period. (Oxford Dictionary)

Peak Experience – positive ecstatic experiences associated with euphoria, harmony, connectedness, etc.

Perception – Awareness of something through the senses. (Oxford Dictionary)

Postmodernism - A late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious                                    use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories. (Oxford Dictionary)

Postmodernity – The quality or condition of being postmodern.

Psychic Distance – Viewer’s awareness of bodily sensations during aesthetic perception.

Scopophilia – looking itself as a source of pleasure. Exists as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object.

Simulacra – an image or representation of something or someone.

Skepticism – 1. A skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something.

                        2. The theory that certain knowledge is impossible. (Oxford Dictionary)

Small Narrative – temporary every day stories and theories.

System 1 – automatically operated mental system that deals with distribution of effort between itself and System 2 regarding solving problems and making judgements.

System 2 – “allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. Operations are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration” (p. 21 Thinking Fast and Slow).

Uncanny – Strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way. (Oxford Dictionary)

Visual Form – the features of the work of art which are responsible for its organization. Form designates context.



I am studying experience and mood inducing effects of nostalgia on film audiences of the postmodern generation, because I want to find out:

1.      If nostalgia has a positive effect on mood increase/decrease.

2.      How nostalgia influences aesthetic experiences.

3.      Whether it is possible to manufacture nostalgia (that is create an intertextual trigger for it).

4.      Is it possible for nostalgia to act as a therapeutic method?

I am studying this topic in order to help the reader understand that nostalgia is a positive mental function, which not only acts as a coping mechanism, or a mood and experience inducing element, but it also has potential to be used as a therapeutic method for treating dissatisfaction. This reading is intended so that my audience may be able to gain control of their satisfaction levels with the use of nostalgic therapy; other applications include but are not limited to contemplation on:

·         Nostalgia as a coping mechanism in response to negative stimuli, change, negative states, etc.;

·         Nostalgia as aesthetic experience and mood mediator;

·         Nostalgia as consumerism motivator; placing nostalgic value on materialism;

·         Nostalgia as a therapy method; possible directions and techniques;

·         Nostalgia creates an illusion of meaning;

·         Using nostalgia to focus one’s attention on a certain task or topic;

Other topics in relation to the subject include but are not limited to:

·         Postmodernism; Hyperreality and simulations; Tech increase to result in national anxiety;

·         Film as an ideal medium of information for the postmodern generation;

·         Intertextuality as core of art and cognition; its’ role in nostalgia and nostalgic experiences and triggers; Intertextuality as a cause for postmodern skepticism; If all art is imitation (Plato; Aristotle), then what is authenticity?

·         Who are those not familiar with nostalgic experiences?

·         Aesthetic experiences and their causes; aesthetic experiences as causes;

·         Perceptions of uncanny; causes and effects;

·         Aesthetics vs. unaesthetic;

The study is set in a Post-Positivist perspective, as it measures effects of nostalgia on various mental functions and states. It also incorporates elements of Constructivist methods, due to the postmodern structure of the study and the deconstruction of meaning with the use of intertextuality. Discipline of psychology in the study is measured using quantitative data (rating experience/nostalgia; BMIS (Brief Mood Introspection Scale: Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988).); Yes or No questions), while general aesthetic experience and perception of intertextuality are measured using qualitative data (open-ended questions on reference recognition, nostalgic experience, mood). Considering the influence of postmodernity on the research process and the methods of this study, it is notable that there are multiple hypotheses, each of which could be considered on its own or in relation to the rest. The hypotheses are as follows:

1.      Nostalgia increases the aesthetic value of any given experience.

a.       Nostalgia increases mood during negative experiences.

b.      Nostalgia increases mood during positive experiences.

2.      Nostalgia is a natural response to negative stimuli.

a.       Nostalgic response occurs even in response to artificial nostalgic triggers.

3.      Repeated references are recognized with more ease than singular references.

4.      Alcohol stimulates positive responses towards aesthetic experiences.


Preliminary Research and Literature Review


Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

Sim, S. (1999). Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought.

            The Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought and Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism are the two sources that answered a lot of my questions about postmodernity, primarily giving a precise explanation to postmodernism as a philosophy and described various elements and theories that are all part of postmodernity. Both sources gave me an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the discipline of philosophy and its relation to art (particularly film, as my main and original are of concern due to my involvement in the production process as the Production Designer). These two sources are my two primary postmodernity references as they provide a very detailed explanation to what caused postmodernity and what effects the phenomenon has on people.  

Feldman, E. B. (1977). Varieties of visual experience: art as image and idea. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

This source provided a valuable component to the research, and therefore I consider Varieties of Visual Experience as one of the main sources for my research on aesthetics and nostalgia. From Feldman Burke I learned about the differences between form and content of art, as well as its effects on our mental states. He suggested a state of mind very similar to Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow (1990) called the state of psychic distance. In the frames of my research, this element helped understand the concepts behind creating an aesthetic experience for the viewer. During the screening at which the measurements were conducted the audience was intended to enter the state of psychic distance, to allow them to arrive at the nostalgic experience.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking Fast and Slow (1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

            Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is first a must-read for absolutely any member of the audience. Second, it is a valuable source of information on a lot of our mental functions. The book describes System 1 and System 2 as our primary operatives, with System 1 leading the way in its’ tendency to be an automatic response to any external stimuli, deciding for us if System 2’s analytical capabilities will be needed at any given occasion. Thinking Fast and Slow provides an insight into how we think, judge, and analyze the world around us. In this research this source provided me with information on how Systems 1 and 2 are responsible for our judgement and often behavioral response to information (Which system is responsible for judgements of attractiveness/beauty? How does repetition effect recognition of patterns? Do you need to trigger System 2 to have a nostalgic response? Etc.).




Originally this study was intended as a research of intertextuality in visual narratives and audiences’ cognition of the references. The presence of the term intertextuality implied that postmodernism as a philosophy is the right area of research since the origins of the term belong in the postmodern writing. It should be first noted that most of the conclusions were arrived at due to extensive research rather than data measures. Data measurement in this study was only used as a means of gaining insight into audiences’ position towards the film and the event as an aesthetic experience. As part of the Interdisciplinary process, the theory formed alongside the research process from pulling information from different disciplines. In this section I will try to explain how the study transformed from a research on intertextual references to a hypothesis on nostalgia being the value determinant of an aesthetic experience. For any term definitions, please, refer to the Term Glossary on page 3.

My experience with postmodernism as a philosophy began with such sources as The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought by Stuart Sim and Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism by Fredric Jameson. With their help I learned about the history of the philosophical movement that started in the 1950s and fully formed itself by the beginning of the 1980s. As a reaction formation to the increase of household technology (Radio, TV) and therefore a wider distribution of media and the types of information it presents, the society started to form a sensation of anxiety and fear. I find that the TV show Mad Men is quite an illustrative example of this scenario: throughout the series we are shown scenes of multiple occasions where the characters were unable to take their eyes off the television and the horrible events it was projecting. The audience continuously watches Betty Draper in front of the television set watching the news: “They shot Harry Oswald!” (2009); characters are often unable to take their eyes off the television set that is promoting mostly negative events that are happening around the world. Another instance in the series takes place during the conflict of the United States with Cuba; we see the characters in fear of upcoming death due to the conflict that they witnessed on television. I believe that increase in technology truly is a prominent factor in the development of postmodernism. Household television is responsible not only for increase of fear and anxiety (whether it was regarding mortality or loss or any other negative stimuli), but also for the expansion of diversity of opinions. Prior to the era of TV and computers people only knew of the world in terms of grand narratives, things were told to people by a singular authoritative opinion. Now, when technology is at the tip of our fingers, there are multiple ways of gaining new information from a diverse pool of opinions. This is what in postmodernity could be known as focus on small narratives, on not-extraordinaire, every day events and problems. This, of course, could be seen anywhere on the internet; for instance, Reddit.com is a platform for discussion on a variety of topics with a variety of experts and ‘experts’ with a variety of opinions and solutions. This creates an infinite amount of possibilities for knowledge and meaning. Taking intertextuality into consideration, it becomes apparent how skepticism formed at the central aspect of postmodern thought. For instance, one question on Reddit.com could be answered by 5 people; all 5 statements/solutions are different from each other (thus, the diversity of meaning which makes meaning itself irrelevant due to its diversity); all those 5 statements were selected by their authors from their personal pools of information based on literature or experiences encountered by them previously. This is an example of intertextual knowledge that possibly serves as the parent of skepticism: how can you believe everything that people say? Why do we believe in the truth of historical events? For instance, an example previously used by me in one of the original self-reflections regarding the research: why do we believe that humans landed on the moon? There are only two proofs of the events: 1.  Video footage of the Moon landing; 2. Statements by those who supposedly landed on the Moon. The first proof could be disregarded by the argument of the Hollywood industry and an ability to artificially recreate said footage. The second argument could be argued to be subjective as those who supposedly landed on the moon could be simply lying, or in case of their death their statements become irrelevant due to inability to prove their truthfulness. This is an example of skepticism, and clearly, it is very postmodern. The expansion of opinions and skepticism (not all skepticism is as extreme, it could be seen in lower levels in doubting once opinion due to incredibility; deconstruction and anti-foundationalism could also be considered skepticism) resulted in the rise of the hyperreality and the hyperspace (internet). Intertextual narrative also involves hyperrealistic elements, being at least a second-order simulation if not third-order. Film being a representation of the real is a first-order simulation, and the presence of intertextual referencing only increases the notion of hyperreality by blurring the boundaries between the real and fake, original and referenced. When the whole piece is intertextual in and out, it becomes unclear where originality begins and ends. This results in a sort of artistic skepticism. Aristotle and Plato have already told us that all art is imitation but people of creative fields till this day argue that their ideas are ‘original’. Well, nothing is original. All art is imitation, simply, all and any art imitates reality. Freud describes a similar concept in Interpretation of Dreams (1913) by stating that all dreams reference reality, and nothing in our dreams is ever a phenomenon outside of our experience scope. All art originally was an imitation of relation, a simple first-order simulation, and with development of societal structure and worldviews new techniques and style arouse; art became imitation of emotion; later, with the birth of mass-production it became imitation of art, an imitation of itself. Whether through form or content or both art imitates something else, therefore the authority of authenticity is questioned in postmodernity. This allows for contemplation on intertextuality’s ‘beg, borrow and steal’ slogan separated from the concept of plagiarism. If all art is imitation, then no art is authentic; if no art is authentic, all stolen ideas are possible to be considered original. Therefore, this statement questions the grounds of originality is well: if everything in art is an imitation of something else, does the extent of reinterpretation become the value of originality? Film is by far the ultimate postmodern artistic medium for delivery of information: it is easily accessible to wide audiences (film theaters, paid online platforms like Netflix and Hulu, illegal streaming), and it is also easy to understand regardless of your background and language (it is a narrative that has visual and audio elements of storytelling embeded in it). The reason for visual narrative’s success is mostly empathy. It is easier to feel empathy while watching a video with sound and different angles of view, rather than while looking at a one-point view painting; there is a better understanding of the character’s situation. Empathy is a very prominent emotion, as it is usually what allows for an aesthetic experience, especially for film audiences. An article by Markovic Components of Aesthetic Experience: Aesthetic Fascination, Aesthetic Appraisal, and Aesthetic Emotion (2012, p. 1) provides a great explanation to what an aesthetic experience is and what its’ components are: “Generally, aesthetic experience can be defined as a special state of mind that is qualitatively different from the everyday experience” (2012). Markovic also provides references to the concept of Flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and peak experience (Maslow, 1968) stating that aesthetic experience is a similar concept to both. In Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) Daniel Kahneman references Larry Jacoby’s article Becoming Famous Overnight while describing the concept of cognitive ease, which also supports the process of aesthetic experience alongside flow and peak experience. Cognitive ease: “The experience of familiarity has a simple but powerful quality of ‘pastness’ that seems to indicate that it is a direct reflection of prior experience” (p. 61). This circles us back to the original concept of the research: intertextuality. The term was introduced by Julia Kristeva (1980) and its application was to the literary disciplines. Kristeva’s concept of intertextuality lied in authors basing their knowledge on the works of other authors they have read as part of their research, who in their turn also based their knowledge on the works they previously read; simply put, texts are not a singular entity. I applied the concept to a well-known phrase “beg, borrow, and steal”. Intertextuality is simply an imitation; a reinterpretation; reuse; recycling of information, knowledge, behavior, artistic expression, etc.

In this project, film acts as a medium and triggers nostalgia using intertextual references. The film created for this study is not only intertextual, but also highly postmodern. The film was produced in accordance with elements of postmodernity; high numbers of women in head positions as a notion of feminism; anti-foundational structure defined by a backwards development process (the storyboard was created prior to the script for instance); unlike general films following a single main storyline, the film is separated into 3 smaller stories (grand vs. small narrative); part 3 of the film is written and directed by a second director points to collaborative processes of creation. The storyboard was the first created element of the film: it was created based on a long list of films and TV shows. The choice was based either on my own personal aesthetic judgement, or on popularity/acknowledgement of the film by larger audiences. The references include films by David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar-Wai, Tom Ford, Wes Anderson, Sam Esmail, alongside at least 50 other films and TV shows. In the final version of the storyboard the main influences were David Lynch, Sam Esmail, and Wong Kar-Wai. The script’s dialogue as well contained intertextual references to the pieces from the list (one of the most notable ones is Pulp Fiction’s “Damn good milkshake”), while the stories were influenced by personal experiences and events, or based on the contents of the intertextual storyboard (for instance, scene 1 was set in a diner, with all referenced shots having action set in a diner). The topic for all three stories was chosen to be love, being probably the most familiar and easily recognized emotion to all or most audiences. Other than intertextuality in shot composition and storyline, many more references were placed throughout other filmmaking storytelling elements: production design contained references in the form of props and set decoration; some of the props appeared in multiple scenes; editing and special effects (including the title cards) were also influenced by the reference list (for instance, some people recognized bold yellow titles as a reference to Pulp Fiction once again); French interludes were a nod to the French New Wave cinema, a music band, and a contemporary performance artist Rafael Rozendaal. The name of the film Beautiful Lies was also a reference to a personal relationship and a name of a song (30 Seconds to Mars Beautiful Lie, 2005). Characters, their names and designs were also influenced by the long list of references. A large amount of references gives a stronger guarantee of audiences grasping the references and therefore becoming nostalgic and allows for a wider separation from the real and towards the hyperreal. The screening of the film was decided to be the event to provide the audience the aesthetic experience they deserve and collect the data needed for a conclusion on the hypothesis. There were 2 screenings (at different dates and locations), the audience (participants of the study) were provided with an open bar and free snacks, social interactions, displayed art (sculpture, painting, and props from the film), with pleasant upbeat music playing in the background. The positive environment was hypothesized to place the audience in the state of psychic distance, allowing them to have a personal connection with the content of the intertextual artform, resulting in a positive nostalgic experience. All research on nostalgia in this study comes from Clay Routledge’s Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource (2016). The source provided valuable information about existing research on nostalgia as well as results of the authors studies. Routledge found out that nostalgia is a natural response to negative stimuli; he and his colleagues conducted many studies on qualities that make us prone to nostalgia (mostly negative), as well as if there is any difference between general understanding of nostalgia by people across the globe. From Routledge I learned that nostalgia is supported by social themes (Holak and Havlena, 1992) with relationships being the primary topic and social events being the second most common topic.

storyboard 2.png
storyboard 1.png

Data Needs

In accordance with the amount of disciplines covered in the study, the data should be varying in its method collection and result outcomes. The data I am intending to collect is qualitative and quantitative, aiming to measure participants’ mood, satisfaction, peak experience/aesthetic experience, levels of nostalgia, aesthetics (art), and pattern recognition. The participants will be asked to fill out two surveys (one before and one after the screening of the film) to measure any differences in their overall mood, as well as separate the amount of information collected (also based on what can be revealed prior to the screening). Throughout the screening the participants will be visually recorded to track any physical movement or signs of the state of psychic distance (head tilt). Both measurements of survey and observation will be conducted as a part of the experiment centered on aesthetic experience.



Thesis Preparation Survey:

During the research stage of the study I asked a small number of convenience sample participants to fill out a short survey which included visual imagery. All participants were juniors and seniors of the Filmmaking program at Woodbury University. The survey aimed to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data questions aimed to measure one’s satisfaction with visual qualities of film (Ex: Do you ever feel satisfied with the way a certain movie shot looks?). Qualitative data questions focused on participants’ aesthetic choices (Ex: What is the prettiest/visually stunning/most beautiful film you have ever seen?). Other questions were mixed incorporating images (shots of reference pulled from the reference storyboard), numerical rating scales and order rating scales. In the last cluster of questions, the participants were asked to:

·         Rate which of the 3 above images they like the most;

·         Rate or indicate what they like about provided images;

·         Rate images in the order of which they like most;

The results of this survey provided me with information supportive of the aesthetic effect of the chosen intertextual references, and therefore allowed me to move on with the use of imagery to induce nostalgia in my audience.


Survey 1 (Before exposing participants to nostalgia triggers)

The first survey contains a BMIS (Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988).), and 8 questions; two questions are aiming to gather qualitative information (aesthetics and mood; expectations of the event/film); the rest are measuring quantitative data in regards to mood, alcohol induction, self-perception (choice and reason, adaptation, creativity), and one question asking participants of a quantitative response about nostalgia (Do you often think about the past?).


Survey 2 (After exposing participants to nostalgia triggers)

The second survey also contains BMIS (Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988). ), as well as 10 questions; three questions gathering qualitative data asked about aesthetic choice, intertextual reference recognition, and nostalgic experience during the screening; the other 7 questions are measuring quantitative information such as expectation fulfillment, physical activity during the screening, judgement (of the film and general film judgement), reference recognition, and nostalgic experience (general and during the screening).


Use of Theory and Variable Application

As most of the survey measurement is based in quantitative data measurement, this is a quantitative theory based study, focusing on interrelations and effects of background, mood, baseline knowledge, comfort, artistic form and content, and nostalgia on one’s peak experience.

Proposed variables and variable chart:

·         Independent variable X1 – positive mood state;

·         Independent variable X2 – familiar intertextual forms and content of art;

·         Independent variable X3 – creative background;

·         Intervening variable Y1 – comfort (physical and social);

·         Intervening variable Y2 – baseline knowledge (of intertextual references);

·         Mediating variable M1 – nostalgic experience;

·         Dependent variable Z1 – peak of an aesthetic experience;


Proposed theories:

1.      If one has previously been exposed to selected content, then she or he will be more prone to recognition of its representations and interpretation in future experiences.

2.      If nostalgia can occur naturally, then it is possible to artificially induce it through intertextual external stimuli.

3.      The greater is one’s personal relation to selected content is, the greater is expectancy of a nostalgic experience.

4.      The greater the number of intertextual references included in the content, the small recognition response produced by the audience.


Expected Results

I believe that the results of this study on nostalgia and its effects on mood and aesthetic experience could benefit not only the disciplines involved in preliminary research, but also any other discipline that must deal with social interaction, mood stability, etc. Nostalgia could be a powerful manipulation tactic and if the study succeeds in its goals, it will be possible to use nostalgia in various methods and techniques (or create new ones based on nostalgia) that will be beneficial to stabilization of life satisfaction levels, anger and anxiety treatment, and many more applications across many other disciplines.



Across the two screenings a total of 44 participants were asked to fill out the surveys as part of the aesthetic experience. The first screening was attended by 17 people (9 females and 8 males), the second screening was attended by 27 people (7 females and 20 males). Due to a small sample size and the convenience structure of the sample participants, these results should not be treated as a universal judgement, but rather taken into consideration as a base for any further research or improvements using nostalgia.


                                i.            Alcohol induction correlations to experience and mood:

BMIS (Brief Mood Introspection Scale: Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988).)

Question 1.1: Today I had __ drinks (0-10 scale)

Across both screenings a total of 16 people reported that they did not have any alcohol prior or at the screening. 50% of those who did not have alcohol rated on the BMIS (1988) that their mood increased after the film; 25% reported that their mood decreased, and the rest 25% remained in the original state. Remaining 28 participants stated to have alcohol prior to the screening: 4 had not applicable results; only 7 people under alcohol influence rated their experience higher after the screening, while 8 people rated decrease in mood and 8 people stated their mood remained in original state.  It seems apparent that the hypothesis on alcohols positive effects on aesthetic experience is not entirely correct.


                              ii.            Pattern recognition:

Question 2.5: Did you notice any of these references in the film (Lists 6 actual references; 3 relative references; 1 not applied reference; 1 trick reference – a similar but more known reference).

Question 2.6: Were there any other references (to films, art, music, etc.) you could’ve noticed (open-ended question).

Participants were asked to note all references they noticed in the film. Out of the 44 participants across the two screenings 30 people (approximately 68%) recognized the most repeated references; 1 person was unable to recognize any due to lack of baseline knowledge (Variable Y2); remaining 13 participants marked the question not applicable or did not respond. Thus, more repeated references were recognized by a greater number of participants than references only used once.

Fun note: 7 people claimed to recognize the unused reference (Crimson Peak by Guillermo Del Toro); 3 people recognized both the actual and the trick references (A Single Man by Tom Ford as real, and the Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann as fake), and 13 other participants stated they recognized the Great Gatsby but not A Single Man.


                            iii.            Nostalgic Experience:

Question 1.6: Do you often think about the past? (circle one)

Question 2.8: 0 being never and 10 all the time, how often do you experience nostalgia?

Question 2.9: Did this film make you feel nostalgic? (0 – not at all; 10 absolutely).

Out of the 44 participants only 3 people claimed to not have often nostalgic experiences, yet 2 of them rated their nostalgic experience with the film at 4, and one person rated it as 9 (on a 0-10 scale).

Only one person chose 0 to determine how often they get nostalgic, while 3 people rated 3, and the rest had 4 above on a 0 to 10 scale. This shows that it is true that nostalgic experiences occur in response to artificial nostalgia triggers such as intentionally placed intertextual references.


                            iv.            Nostalgia and personal relation:

Question 2.9: Did this film make you feel nostalgic? (0 – not at all; 10 absolutely).

Question 2.10: Was there any particular scene/dialog/shot that made you feel nostalgic? (open-ended question)

30 (68%) of participants were able to recall what part of the film caused their nostalgic sensations. 17 of them stated that scene 3 was the main cause for their nostalgia, possibly showcasing that nostalgic experiences can occur in response to negative stimuli (scene 3 was reported to be the saddest scene during test screenings). No other indicators of nostalgic experiences being a response to negative stimuli were recorded.

                              v.            Nostalgia and mood:

Question 1.6: Do you often think about the past? (circle one)

Question 2.8: 0 being never and 10 all the time, how often do you experience nostalgia?

Question 2.9: Did this film make you feel nostalgic? (0 – not at all; 10 absolutely).

Question 2.10: Was there any particular scene/dialog/shot that made you feel nostalgic? (open-ended question)

BMIS (Brief Mood Introspection Scale: Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988).)

Out of the 30 people (68%) that were able to recall what caused their nostalgic experience 28 people recorded their mood perception before and after the screening. Out of the 28 participants 12 stated that their mood increased after the screening, 8 participants stated that their mood remained, and 8 stated that their mood decreased. As for the remaining 14 people who were unable to recall nostalgia triggers during the screening, most of them rated no change in their mood. Therefore, if approximately 42% participants noticed increase in mood after being exposed to nostalgia triggers, then the statement that nostalgia increases the aesthetic value of experience is true.

As stated before, the survey in this study serves as supportive evidence, with primary attention of forming theories being given to interdisciplinary research.




In conclusion, the study illustrated that nostalgia is a mediator in aesthetic experiences. It increases the value of any given aesthetic experience and could be used as a primary tactic for transformation of materialism-based consumerism and therapy. It is now clear that nostalgia could be used as a means of increasing audiences’ perception of the experience, but it also has greater abilities in changing moods: nostalgia can be used to determine satisfactory levels in citizens, as well as it can be used for the levels’ increase. Many social platforms online are already incorporating nostalgia in user experience (Facebook reminders of what you did a year ago or ability to revisit your photos and photos you liked on Instagram for instance), but what is questionable is the intentions behind this applications: there is a possibility that it is beneficial to the level of life-satisfaction, but there is also a possibility that it affects our satisfaction with today. I believe that more research should be conducted on extensive use of nostalgia in the postmodern culture, and that nostalgia should be used for increasing life and experience-satisfaction levels amongst the citizens of the Earth.



Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation (The body, in theory). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Childers, J. (1995). The Columbia dictionary of modern literary and cultural criticism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Crowther, P. (2003). Critical aesthetics and postmodernism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience (1st ed. ed.). New York: Harper & Row.

Feldman, E. B. (1977). Varieties of visual experience: art as image and idea. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Freud, S. (1913). Interpretation of Dreams. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Freud, S. (1919). The ‘Uncanny’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works, 217-256.

Gaggi, S. (1997) From Text to Hypertext. Decenting the Subject in Fiction, Film, the Visual Arts, and Electronic Media.

Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking Fast and Slow (1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Kant, I., & Meredith, J. C. (1986). The critique of judgement. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Kearney, R., & Rasmussen, D. (2001). Continental aesthetics: Romanticism to postmodernism: An anthology (Backwell philosophy anthologies, 12). Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Kristeva, J., Jardine, A., Gora, T., & Roudiez, L. S. (2006). Desire in language: a semiotic approach to literature and art. New York: Columbia University Press.

Landwehr, M. (2002). Questions of Influence and Intertextuality.

Markovic, S. (2012). Components of aesthetic experience: aesthetic fascination, aesthetic appraisal, and aesthetic emotion. a Pion publication.

Maslow A, 1968 Toward a psychology of being (New York: Van Nostrand).

Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988). The experience and meta-experience of mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology55, 102-111.

Mulvey, L. (1999). Visual pleasure and narrative cinema.

The Oxford Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.

Routledge, C. (2016). Nostalgia, a Psychological Resource. Psychology Press.

Sim, S. (1999). Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought.

Starr, G. (2013). Feeling beauty: The Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Szlezak, K. S., & Wynter, D. E. (2015). Referentiality and the films of Woody Allen. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Mcmillan.

Werner, W. (2004) What does this picture say? Reading the Intertextuality of Visual Images.

William J. Havlena and Susan L. Holak 91996). Exploring Nostalgia Imagery Through the Use of Consumer Collages. Kim P. Corfman and John Lynch Jr., Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages 35-42.