Vaporwave Aesthetics

You may or may not have heard of vaporwave, but chances are you have already been exposed to some of its stylistic ripples.  What I mean by this is that mainstream culture machines such as MTV have already started mining this underground internet-born artistic movement.

There are many definitions of vaporwave floating around the net, but I will give you my un-educated definition to get you started. Vaporwave is an art form that combines images from the early days of computer graphic design with ironic consumerist symbols and carefully-selected 80's/90's dance/synth music.  The graphic style of vaporwave is found somewhere between the 256-color breakthrough and pre-Voodoofx 3d days... perhaps with a few VHS artifact sprinkles.  However, not all artistic material from this era is a good fit for vaporwave.  There is a strong relevance when material revolves around a consumerist theme as well as meaningful technological paradigms.  For examples, both the Windows95 and AOL logos have become very popular in the scene.  On the music side of things, the best way I can describe vaporwave is as an 80's and 90's smooth jazzy, synth-poppy, and dancy festivity of auditory artifacts indulging extreme repetition of sampled material and obsession over ambience sounds, reverberations, low-fidelity bit-reduction, slowed-down tracks, and classic vanilla MIDI sounds.

Maybe it's best to have a look at the wikipedia definition for a less confusing breakdown.  Once you have a basic idea of what it is, maybe the documentary featured with this video can further explain a few things.


What's impressive about vaporwave is that even though it has already been tapped into for mainstream exploitation as exemplified by the MTV article linked above, it still somehow manages to remain under the radar.  I have yet to find anyone AFK or not from the internet that actually knows what vaporwave is, which leads me to believe that this is the "new format" of artistic underground movements, defying big mainstream corporations trying to cash in.  As the short video points out: many of these artists are completely unknown and will NEVER be known.  This anonymity extends the artistic value of the art form as there is a sense of lack of identity, therefore impossible ownership/control of the producer, and consequently the art itself.

visual, art, design

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