Nostalgia is a powerful thing, for better or worse. Someone recently even coined a term for the very accurate feeling of nostalgia for things someone never experienced: anemoia. Thai digital artist STW.WTS could fall among these ranks. All of his work revolves around a love for early 90s video games that he rarely got a chance to play as a kid. His parents couldn’t afford to buy a console at home and they didn’t let him go to the arcade, so instead he’d collect gaming magazines and pretend to play them instead. He’d read them over and over again, creating collages and copying the characters in a sketchbook. The culture and aesthetics became deeply embedded within him.
STW.WTS—which is short for his real name, Sattrawut Sinlapaanun—thoroughly understands anemoia. It’s a widespread phenomenon, just look at the popularity of 80s reboots with any Gen-Zer. And he wields these feelings to make viewers feel the same way, even if they never actually played these games either. For example, everyone knows the PS1 joystick, they don’t necessarily have to have used it. It brings to mind a particular era, referencing a whole vibe and storyline.
His chunky 3D characters are adorned with shiny armor and helmets, gleaming like otherworldly PET heroes at war with the desperation of adulting, winning one battle at a time against mundanity and responsibility with a bit of silliness and creative awe. Strange monsters with chrome teeth float in the blackness of space alongside bubbly little futuristic Play-Doh creations painted in neon colors. Bulky Gundams are piloted by bulbous cats and dogs under disco lights while a rare holographic Pepe looks bored af at his overuse (and misuse).
Ultimately, STW.WTS hopes to give viewers and collectors the feeling of a fond memory, like we grew up with him and can bond over the same shared experiences. The anime, manga, comics, and games should transport us to a world we can all relate to, bringing the fun and joy of childhood into the lives of adults. One day, maybe, he’ll even create a game of his own.