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alone // shopping in the virtual plaza a guide to vaporwave aesthetic by luis gasca @whatreyoulookin

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alone // shopping in the virtual plaza a guide to vaporwave aesthetic by luis gasca @whatreyoulookin

AM 08:30 JUN. 19 2018


INDEX

Acknowledgements

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Abstract

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Methodology

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Research Vaporwave Seapunk Music DIY Culture The internet

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The relevance of aesthetics in vaporwave

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Vaporwave aesthetic Manifesto

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Digital art into the real world

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Exhibition Introduction Pre-exhibition The exhibition

80 84 90

Conclusions

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Bibliography

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project is dedicated, first of all, to my parents, Esther and Luis for their unconditional support; to my friends, (with special mention to Marc Arroyo, Marina Cabezas, Tomas Gray and Alex Lopez for their help in the assembly of my exhibition and for their constant moral support), to my tutor, Sergi Carbonell, for believing in my ideas, supporting them and helping me improve, and last but not least to my university ELISAVA for enabling me to materialise my project.

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ABSTRACT

This project explores and dissects the Vaporwave art movement that is part of the internet culture which was originated on the net during the first half of the 2010s. This movement is characterised by creating a nostalgic perception of an idealistic version of a perfectly rendered past to such an extent that it distorts the reality while criticising the hyperconsumerist society we now live in. The objective of this project is to create an aesthetic guide or manifesto that pinpoints what is part of the Vaporwave aesthetic and what is not since it has been mixed with other internet subcultures. This manual can then be used as a cheat sheet on how to create Vaporwave pieces mixing and matching two or more concepts. By generating this manual my intent is to break the barrier between internet art and the physical space art (or real world art) taking Vaporwave as a starting point, to start the conversation on how to give real life objects a digital vibe and feel. As a result of all this research, the project ended with an exhibition of 13 pieces that were born from combinations of concepts taken from the previously developed aesthetic manifesto. Data was collected at the exhibition and then analysed to confirm if the real world Vaporwave art pieces conveyed the same emotions as their digital counterparts.

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METHODOLOGY

All the research presented below does not speak of academic art, museums, galleries, dealers, auction rooms or physical limitations. This project is about popular, free, anarchic, underground, unrestrained, constantly changing and infinite art, covering both reality and virtuality, with the purpose and mission to break down barriers and build a democratic and global art form, in which everyone has the same possibilities to express themselves. In addition to this, its young and recent existence and the fact of having emerged from a new paradigm such as the internet breaks with many of the ideas of scholars of the last century. Therefore, due to the underground nature of the project, much of the literature consulted focuses on articles from self-published books, personal blogs, interviews with artists or even comments in forums where some issues are discussed. In the online underground culture that is going to be explored throughout the project, the figure of the fan or the admirer who comments and shares is almost as essential as the artist’s own, because it is in their hands that this kind of art reaches the masses. Despite this, an attempt has been made to resort to a more scientific bibliography to consolidate and argue the ideas and concepts treated by the online community.

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RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

A. VAPORWAVE In this work, a lot of references will be made to the artistic, social and musical movement called Vaporwave. Below is a brief description of what this movement represents. Vaporwave was originally characterised by its intense use of music samples from the late 70s, 80s, and 90s, even in the early 2000s. It usually mixes with other genres, typically lounge, chill out, chill-wave, smooth jazz or easy listening. Samples are often treated with audio editing software with which they are slowed down, cut and linked. It is a current that encompasses music, art and social commentary. To put in in one word, it’s an “aesthetic”, one that is defined by 80’s (and 90’s) nostalgia, a love for all things technologically obsolete (e.g. Windows 95, floppy disks, cassette players, VHS) and a critique towards all things linked to consumerism (which, relating back to the nostalgic aspect, had somewhat of a peak during the 1980’s), globalization, re-contextualization, often put through a retro-futuristic lens. The name comes from the term “Vaporware”, which was used to describe a product, typically computer hardware or software that was presented to the public and then either released very late afterward or never. It appeared to be a marketing strategy used by big companies in order to keep their clientele from switching to competitors who were putting out products that had the potential to be better; also attributed to the name of the genre 15


RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

is a passage found in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto that states “all that is solid melts into air”, which refers to the changes undergone by society when subjected to capitalism. The wordplay that created the name Vaporwave feels appropriate in its context, as it presents its consumerist critique in a very ironic way, essentially being a glorification of “the stealing of other people’s art and marketing it under something else with foreign languages” as said by Wolfenstein OS X in a video explaining the history and essential attributes of the genre. The image associated with Vaporwave includes Glitch art, classical sculpture (especially Hellenistic sculpture), web designs from the 90s, old computer presentations, cyberpunk aesthetics, use of Japanese characters and other nonWestern writing. The systems are also prominent. I found a paragraph that explains quite clearly what Vaporwave is for people who do not know it: “For those unfamiliar with vaporwave... well, it’s difficult to pin down. Rather than follow a typical formula, the genre’s artists draw inspiration from obscure R&B, funk, and soul as much as from the ripples of music that flow through glistening, soft-focus oldschool television ads and the ambiance of luxury spas. Vaporwave is a sort of nouveau-exotica, evocative and illustrative of dream worlds and fantasy lives; its aesthetics are coded in Japanese text, computer glitches, net art, Italian fashion and silver-spoon penthouses. In short, it takes you elsewhere. And with a wide number of prolific artists, 16


RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

it’s never short of new experiences.” The context in relation to the city is that a city is not only what you see at a glance but that all (or almost all) citizens live constantly hooked to the internet and today an artistic movement originated and developed in its entirety in the networks it is something worth stopping to investigate. It is an art that is not in museums, that is only present in a virtual way, so that it is intangible and that there is nothing like an original of a piece, everything is copyable and shareable. I see it as a kind of online museum where everyone can access to see the “exhibition” referring to the movement as a whole. There is no art in the vaporwave if there is no interpenetration between visual and aesthetic with music. It also has a lot to see in which platform we are since each one has a different usability, that is, if we are in YouTube it can be in the form of a video but below it will appear thousands of comments contributing their opinion and related videos or artists and thus an experience that resembles walking through a museum, the user knows through his own way and experience this movement. Let’s analyse the shared art through the internet, also called net art. It has been written between the coexistence of art on the internet. This new term that seems to be one of the inexhaustible themes of the world of artistic creation has made experts begin to consider it as the first truly avant-garde movement of the 21st century. The artists involved in these practices analyse the brutal change in our lives caused by the interference of the Internet at a social, political and 17


RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

personal level and reflect it through critical works of art that make the viewer reconsider the changes that have taken place. We can also appreciate the internet trends that exist today and how these have influenced not only the creation of content but also that many different opinions have contributed on the direction in which the art world is advancing. I have found 6 trends in the world of current visual culture that relate this movement very well with today. · Outsider in: “Everyone greets those who speak openly, extravagantly and strangers” As we flood more and more with mass replicated images and added items, our appetite for unique messages and outstanding visual effects increases with every action . We have entered a new one: The Era of the Strange. · Divine living: Divine life focuses on significant consumption. It is about buying with purpose and carefully selecting treasured objects and experiences about mass accumulation. The birth and contemplation are key elements of this trend. Consumers are increasingly aware of the truth. · Extended human: Technology is changing the way we live our lives, share our experiences, make our art and experience our environment. It also challenges our idea of ​​what it means to be human, as it optimises our bodies, expands the memory capacity and creativity of our minds, and allows total connectivity between us. Adam Harper in his blog entry “The online underground: A new kind of punk?” talks about how what was known as underground pre-internet 18


RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

is now redefined by where people spend most of their time. Creating online personas and reading, watching and listening to art or anything really is mostly nowadays done through the internet. In the article he makes more reference to music than to any other kind of art expression, but what is said can be applied to any form of media coming from the “online underground”. In the article he states that “Firstly, you won’t find the music of the online underground in record shops—even online ones. In essence, it has no channels of distribution other than the web, and artists and labels set that presence up themselves. A great many artists’ web pages will sell you vinyl or cassettes, and perhaps many of them would prefer to find success through the old-fashioned channels, which still carry a good deal of prestige.” This, in a nutshell, is what is understood by underground. Not many people know about it, it is not mass produced and it normally comes from amateur artists trying to put their visions out in the world without having a label to back them up. When Harper refers to Vaporwave in particular he says “Vaporwave is indeed punk in its crude and minimal quality. In fact, its threshold of participation is dramatically lower than punk rock’s was—all you need is some very basic sound software (many use Audacity), some decent source material, a few clicks, and you’re there. Vaporwave albums have been pouring onto Bandcamp, filling up labels like Dream Catalogue, 500, Illuminated Paths and 19


RESEARCH | VAPORWAVE

Ailanthus. [...] Anyone who believes that underground music should be gritty and artisanal, like classic punk or classic house, is likely to hate vaporwave. But vaporwave is only doing what the cassette underground did in the ‘80s, and it met similar reactions then. On both sides of the Atlantic, the style that became known as indie was independent music looking in the mirror, becoming self-aware about “the way things are.” It is talking about Vaporwave music as a genre saying that people do not have to know how to play instruments like back in the 80s and 90s, through YouTube tutorials and a couple of first tries people can make a whole song. This is also representative of how the world of aesthetics inside the world of Vaporwave works. People do not need to have an artistic background to partake in it, it is as easy as downloading, reshaping and shuffling some .png images around and copy-pasting some angsty looking Japanese text over the image and making it resemble somewhat computery. In the latter part of the quote it is clear that what he means when saying “self aware” is a reflection of what memes are nowadays, they work because we relate to them even if they represent us in our worst possible state. Vaporwave is just that. Having a point of view and using the available tools to make your point come across adding into it some kind of humorous or dissonant element to make it stand out and that is exactly what making a self aware piece of art is and what is inside the DNA of Vaporwave.

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The first image that comes up on google images if you search for vaporwave

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Another clear example of vaporwave art

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A very Vaporwave image mixing various key elements

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RESEARCH | SEAPUNK

B. SEAPUNK Seapunk is an aesthetic that revolves around 2000’s cyberpunk culture, including dolphins, pyramids, bright colours, beach scenes and dreamscapes. The music often incorporates ocean sounds and electronic beats. Its name is fairly reflective of what this genre looks like. Unlike in the case of Vaporwave, Seapunk, even though it saw somewhat of a success, never took itself seriously. Whether or not it was a meme was never up for debate (it was). It came to life like many inside jokes do, out of a weird, disjointed, drunken rant; however, unlike most such jokes, it gained popularity, and for a brief period of time it was a phenomenon embraced by the likes of Rihanna (with an SNL performance of Diamonds, backed by a full-on seapunk-influenced production) and Katy Perry (with her “Perrywinkle” Grammy hair). In regards to Vaporwave, the genre was described by Lopatin, one of the “founding fathers” as an initial joke. It was dubbed as a joke by Wolfenstein OS as well, until, as he states, after further research into the deeper meanings of it, he found it to be “genius”. I do not believe that Vaporwave is on the level of “just a joke”. It was heavily influenced, visually wise by Seapunk, but it didn’t come down to just a passing fad. The underlying difference between this aesthetic and Vaporwave is that the former started out as a visual idea from which the music genre emerged, 28


RESEARCH | SEAPUNK

without ever having any real substance, simply relying on the iconography, whereas the latter came to be as a musical genre first, which had a purpose and a message. Be it an ironic portrayal of consumerist values, a nod to the comfort of nostalgia or a mix of both, it always had a finer line, something that went beyond the meme-worthy façade of glitch and reminiscing for the past. The supposed death of the genre came up around 2013 when it began to be appropriated by the masses through outlets such as Tumblr and MTV. It looked as if Vaporwave was going to suffer the same fate as Seapunk, and be killed by the hands of those who never really cared for it, but simply couldn’t help wanting to belong to a subculture they never really understood. It reached meme status along with its sudden and unsolicited mainstream popularity; all the things that the genre stood for were lost in a sea meaningless pastel collages. The word aesthetic become a somewhat pompous term, no longer meaning to encompass all the aspects of the genre (concept, music, imagery), but, as described by YouTuber FrankJavCee, a ‘’pretentious hipster way of saying beautiful’’ (Know Your Meme, 2015). There had been many instances where Vaporwave and the idea of aesthetic (usually written as “A E S T H E T I C”) had been satirised by YouTubers and such; but it didn’t matter, as the genre proved untouchable. Vaporwave had its “rise to fame” and is now a genre that people don’t necessarily know of, but may have an unconscious awareness of – hence the idea of its death, the supposed fallout from the graces of 29


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internet underground culture. But the beauty of this aesthetic is that it can’t be killed by anyone as it doesn’t belong to anyone. Who’s to say its dead? It is a genre that continues to remain relevant and to thrive in anonymity; it is “anonymous music for anonymous people” (Heels, 2015). It never asked for any sort of financial success or recognition, it is simply a means of connectivity and tongue-in-cheek social commentary, therefore, as long it remains relevant in the current sociopolitical sphere, it cannot be killed. Even so, Vaporwave’s continuous wave of existence had a period of turmoil, hence the questioning of the genre’s position as either a true digital phenomenon or simply a ridiculously successful meme.

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Rihanna (top) and Azealia Banks (bottom) slowly killing Seapunk on mainstream media

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A typical Seapunk style art piece

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RESEARCH | MUSIC

C. MUSIC Music wise, the general consensus seems to be that the “big bang” of the genre came in the form of an album called Ecco Jams Vol. 1, created by the artist Daniel Lopatin, operating under the pseudonym Chuck Person, in 2011. Listening to the album, it sounds like an exercise in electronic music production. It’s a glitch-like mash-up of chopped up, slowed down, and echoed 80’s popular tunes (e.g. Africa, by Toto). As explained by Scott Beauchamp in an article written for Esquire, “The effect is that it sounds like the ghosts of shopping trips past are visiting us.” (Beauchamp, 2018) All these aspects are to become staples of the Vaporwave sound. But whereas Ecco Jams Vol. 1 keeps a general somber sound, another example of early Vaporwave, James Ferraro’s 2011 album Far Side Virtual, shows a different approach to the embrace of nostalgia, so heavily present in the genre. It was first conceived as a series of ringtones, and it plays with concepts such as retro-futurism and musical kitsch. Where Ecco Jams sounds like listening to the past whilst underwater, Ferraro’s music is much more upbeat, with a synthetic yet pleasant 90’s vibe, it’s goal being to sound comforting and familiar (e.g. the use of a synthesised Skype log-in tune, a sound is well known by the majority of internet users) (Parker and Croggon, 2018). The idea is that Vaporwave, whilst stubborn in its references, is still a multifaceted genre that manages to 36


RESEARCH | MUSIC

take the essence of its core concept and run it through different filters. As is with any respectable music genre, over the years, many sub-genres of this phenomenon have developed. Each has its own quirks and self-identifying traits, whilst still keeping in with the general sound of the original music. Some examples are currents such as Seinwave, which is based on the sitcom Seinfeld (see the album Constanza, by Apartment 5A), and MallSoft, best described as music that is meant to be played in empty mall; it comes with an eerie yet serene vibe and it takes the ambient aspect of Vaporwave music a step further. A more established sub-genre that emerged as a counterculture is Hardvapour; while Vaporwave takes the bleakness of existence and wraps it in a Utopian, pastel coloured puff of nostalgia, Hardvapour stands strong and defiant in the face of capitalism. It was created by Canadian artist Wolfenstien OS as a response to the sleepy, surreal ambiance of Vaporwave – an alarm clock, ready to wake the listener up from this daze. As written by Matt Broomfield in an article for Dazed, “If vaporwave (the Tumblrbeloved micro-genre of pitch-shifted lounge music that sounds like a chopped-and-screwed mix of the Windows 95 start-up tone) sounds like glossy mall muzak transmitted from a futuristic virtual plaza, then hardvapour sees that plaza hijacked by a group of Balkan cyberpunks, hacking into the tannoy and blasting 37


RESEARCH | MUSIC

out gabber as they throw shapes in the strobe light.” (Broomfield, 2016) These genres came to be as the main focus of Vaporwave started to shift, from its obsession with 80’s nostalgia, social commentary on consumerism and obsolete computing technology to a more aesthetic focused sound. Not to say that the underlying of the music has shifted completely, the traits that formed it still remain, but the music has simply re-contextualised itself. Nowadays, the genre’s most recognisable album, both in sound and artwork, is Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus (one time alias used by American musician Vektroid), described as featuring “chopped, glitching and screwed adult contemporary soul alongside twinkling spa promotional tunes.” (Harper, 2018). It’s a Vaporwave staple even though it is one of the albums that started “walking away” from the anti-consumerist aspect and focused on the others, such as: A general sense of nostalgia, given by the use of remixed 80’s tunes, and the slow sound of the music, which albeit disconcerting at times, provides the feeling of an old, blurred memory. (Vaporwave, 2018) Visually, the effect is complemented by the use of imagery of Greco-Roman bust, symbolising the fact that the reminiscence goes beyond a yearning for the 80’s and is a part of the current in of itself. Globalization – the use of Japanese characters has always been common practice amongst Vaporwave content creators, as exemplified in one of the 38


RESEARCH | MUSIC

albums more popular tracks, “リサ フランク420 / 現代のコンピュ ー” (trans. “Lisa Frank 420 / Modern Computing”). As a genre that was born and thrived solely on the internet, the one place where all matter of cultures and people from all walks of life have the possibility to coexist, the aesthetic prides itself as being completely open and inclusive, as it does not belong to one specific part of the world; rather, it is constantly being developed and transformed by artists from around the globe. The obsession with obsolete technology. Even though this aspect could easily fit into the nostalgia category, it is very specific and has a special place of its own within the aesthetic, as it ties into both the love for the past and criticism of consumerism. The distortion of Vaporwave videos in a way that makes them look like an old VHS recording brings in that sense of humanity and familiarity to the otherwise cold, faceless identity of the genre.

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Cover artwork of the album Ecco Jams Vol. 1, by Chuck Person

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Cover artwork for the album Floral Shoppe, by Macintosh Plus

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Cover artwork from the album 新 しい日の誕生 (Birth of a New Day), from 2814; the image is a strong tie-in between visuals brought by Cyberpunk, and the reinterpretation proposed by Vaporwave. 44


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RESEARCH | DIY CULTURE

D. DIY CULTURE The arrival of the Internet to everyday homes around the world almost two decades ago was a big difference from the pre-millennial era, configured as a means through which people can create, share and express their common interests - regardless of the level of eccentricity-, completely free from the traditional limitations of location, distance or demography. The infinite possibilities of sharing brought by the web allowed for the emergence of some of the most notable cultural movements of recent years, often led by an avant-garde community of individuals interested in fetishizing specific elements of art, music, fashion and popular culture. Surcaring in a dynamic and infinite plane of data being guided by inertias such as communication, necessity, curiosity, idleness or narcissism also raises that boundless sea of possibilities ​​ as a tool with which we satisfy informational needs determined by different situations or casuistics. In this way, the life of contemporary art - from creation to its circulation and perception - has changed dramatically: for the most part, it is observed through computer screens and smartphones, leaving the experience of attending an exhibition in person in the background. This is also due, among other things, to the virtualisation of galleries, art blogs or platforms for exchanging digital images.

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RESEARCH | DIY CULTURE

Do It Yourself culture has special relevance in this context: the journey of most artists who are part of the underground community is based on self-learning, self-production, self-distribution, self-promotion and, above all, self-awareness of the medium they use as the main source of inspiration in some cases. All this would not have been possible without the arrival of the so-called Web 2.0 or Social Media, whose philosophy is based on two closely linked concepts, such as collective intelligence and the architecture of participation: “... the collective intelligence, comes to say that the sum of knowledge of each individual constitutes a corpus of knowledge, which, when shared, can give rise to a collective work [...]. The architecture of participation implies a new way of building websites to allow the participation of the large mass of users.� Therefore, Web 2.0 is the web of social networks, where emerging artists act to distribute and publicise their music and art. In this way, sites like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, Facebook, Reddit or Tumblr -among others- have been cradle and food for the development of online underground. Harper reflects on how strange the construction of a musical culture can seem in a digital medium but argues that they are paradigm changes that have occurred previously and have to do with the opportunities and difficulties of the current situation.

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RESEARCH | DIY CULTURE

The technology used for production in most cases are basic software that can be downloaded for free from the Internet - Audacity, Ableton or Reaper, to give some examples. And it is that “[...] the musical invention comes from places that do not have an excessive control of quality, of the accident and of the need more than of preconceived ideas with a superior technique� and these programs allow the user a total freedom of experimentation and creation, with the only need of a computer with connection to the network. With regard to distribution, the online underground completely gets rid of the traditional media, which it considers obsolete since there is no other channel than the web. The material nature of music no longer makes sense to its followers: songs are replaced by mp3 files, albums by zip formats, old magazines or music websites by personal blogs and even festivals are organised online in theatres. chat. New emerging artists and their proposals rarely appear in stores -not physical or virtual-, but in most cases, they can be downloaded from their web pages -with the free or voluntary payment option. And, above all, it is easier to find more avant-garde and interesting proposals by browsing through forums and blogs that go to any local physical store or traditional magazine - even many artists of the big industry sometimes launch mix-tapes of free download that could not be discovered in places like these.

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RESEARCH | DIY CULTURE

In terms of promotion, digital artists need to spend almost the same time on production as on their social networks to have a presence on the web. At the moment when both professional and independent musicians play at the same level in the digital medium, the hard barrier between the artist-object and the fan-subject fades, causing healthy effects in the availability of good results.

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RESEARCH | THE INTERNET

D. THE INTERNET Post-Internet is a controversial label to name that type of art that is, according to Archey and Peckham defined in the catalog for the first exhibition that presented a comprehensive overview of it: “Consciously created in a medium that assumes the centrality of the network, and that it often takes everything from the physical bits to the social ramifications of the Internet as fodder. From the changing nature of the image to the circulation of cultural objects, from the politics of participation to a new understanding of materiality, the interventions presented under this heading attempt nothing less than the redefinition of art in the age of the Internet”. The term was coined by Marisa Olson, adopted by Gene McHugh for her art critic blog, and gained greater popularity from Artie Vierkant’s Post-Internet Image and PostInternet Survival Guide by Katja Novitskova and has recently appeared in different contexts as a forum of the MoMA of New York, a conference of the College Art Association or a talk at the Frieze Art Fair. Michael Waugh is the first to use this term to refer to musicians and artists “whose sounds, visual media and identity politics seem to invoke, evoke and embrace the digital spaces that surround them” and “explore the impact of digital technology on the identity, culture and society” in a self-conscious way, although he 50


RESEARCH | THE INTERNET

himself affirms that his choice was an important and thoughtful decision due, in the first place, to the fact that this notion has hardly been analysed in depth by academic works, much less with respect to contemporary music; and, second, to the relationship of this with a type of ironic art, or lacking in sincerity or honesty. To better understand the work of these artists, the observation made by Jurgenson regarding the disappearance of the barriers that separated the real world from the virtual one is crucial: “If we fix this false separation and see the digital and the physical as entangled, we will understand that what we do while we are connected is inseparable from what we do when we disconnect. That is, the disconnection of the smartphone or social networks is not a disconnection of the whole: the logic of social networks follows us long after disconnecting. We live in an augmented reality that exists at the intersection of materiality and information, physicality and digitalisation, bodies and technology, atoms and bits, the off and the online.“ In this way, however much we eliminate our profiles on social networks or try to “disconnect” by fleeing from civilisation, our virtual life will always be present as part of our real life. Even after death, it is possible to project or continue our self in the digital medium - for example, by programming the regular publication of entries in our blog for as long as we want or, even if it sounds very rough, with the option of converting 51


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our Facebook page into an epitaph. Understanding that we are online all the time, it is even possible to say that we are at the dawn of posthumanism when our mobile phone becomes an extension of our physical body that keeps us connected with the digital. We could go to the one known as net.art if we wanted to point out a direct precedent. However, while this was mainly made up of works that were only online - maintaining an inseparable relationship with the technology explored, postInternet art - whose protagonists are mostly connected since they have the use of reason - constantly uses techniques to develop their works in the physical world36, exploiting artistic disciplines that are not necessarily specific to the web but that have modified their development in an important way because of it: fashion, video installations, artistic exhibitions, photography, performance and, even, music37. Cornell explains that the concept arose “at a time when there was a shortage of criticism to describe the art that admits the effects of the Internet in its process or realisation but that does not exist [exclusively] online or within a technological form� 38.

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People buying windows 95 installer packs the day it was released 54


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AESTHETICS IN VAPORWAVE

Vaporwave imagery relates to quite a number a things - pop art, collage, digital art, pixel art, net art, glitch art, kitsch. It relates to the music through the use of the same concept values, whilst complementing it in its attempt to put the viewer/listener in a certain state of mind. As Jordan Minor says in his own attempt to describe this fairly large yet vague phenomenon, “Vaporwave isn’t just something you listen to either, it’s something you experience.” (Minor, 2018) The Vaporwave art colour palette is very well established, constantly featuring different shades of pink and purple, paired with either more light, pastel tones of blues and sea-greens or their murkier counterparts, depending on the exact vibe that is being represented. Sunsets, palm trees and beaches, luminous interiors, or simply glitchy collages represent the more lighthearted side of things, the idea of a relaxing holiday, a slow drive through a VHS filtered memory lane; gloomy, rainy, night time cityscapes, TRON like environments, broken into only by the occasional neon sign are the ones representing the other side of the spectrum, the darker undertones of the aesthetic, more strongly related to some types of pixel art rather than Vaporwave itself, although they perfectly illustrate some of the feelings induced by certain lo-fi oriented tracks. The Greco-Roman bust has become somewhat of a motif, as shown on the cover of Floral Shoppe, symbolising the general sense of nostalgia as aforementioned, along with staples of old technology, both hardware 57


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(computers and cassettes) and software (the Windows 95 logo, Nintendo logo, Sony logo, error message text boxes, etc.). The darker inserts of the imagery come from a Vaporwave predecessor, namely Cyberpunk, which is a genre of science fiction representing a lawless subculture in an oppressive society dominated by computer technology and big corporations. (reddit, 2016) Cyberpunk theory and visuals revolve around the idea of a society that is driven into a state of hollowness, of emotional lacklustre as a repercussion of its strong technological advances. It illustrates a dehumanised society whose inhabitants no longer empathise with one another, being driven apart by the suffocating digitalisation of their world. This sense of emptiness is a feature that was carried on into Vaporwave, and can be felt in many of its songs, as it was also a leading influence in the genre’s involvement in anti-consumerist commentary. The sense of serene loneliness has also been further backed by listeners who have compared it to muzak, which is the nondescript background “noise� generally played in stores. In essence, the visual side of this aesthetic is very closely related to the music that it stems from, being not just a collage of ironic nostalgia references and consumerist rants, but an illustration of the journey that Vaporwave promotes through its also heavily edited sounds. The 58


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artists take things like old computers, commercials, and advertisements, and create content that, in a way, is self-aware of its own irony. It is a well-known fact that Millennials, as a generation, suffer from a much higher rate of depression and anxiety than their previous counterparts (the Baby Boomers). Put under the pressure of constantly evolving financial difficulties, keeping up with the still rising wave of technological advances, some of which seem to have the potential to completely change life as we know it, and the new wave of (mostly ridiculous and exaggerated) forced political correctness, this particular generation finds itself stuck between the serenity of their formative years as “90’s kids” and the drastic societal changes that they grew into. There are of course a number of factors that lead to this: Financial factors – what the generations before them seem to sometimes fail to understand is that things change, sometimes for the worse. What could be realised with a certain amount of work and money twenty years ago, is now a much farther and less achievable goal. The young adults tend to be left disconcerted by the knowledge that things will not be as easy for them, whilst being criticised for being “lazy”. Being looked down upon – the whole “Millenials are killing” anything from tourism, fashion, democracy, and the oil industry to the napkin industry and the McWrap has become a meme in recent years. It all reverts to the previous 59


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point. The fear of disappointment becomes incapacitating. Fear of tomorrow – aside from concern for the individual self, there is the fear for society in general. As we advance technologically, so do our means of harm. Millenials are constantly shown that there are much worse things than debt and depression, resulting in a looming sense of guilt. Romanticizing the past – the yearning for a much less complicated time. Millenials didn’t grow up engulfed in technology, and, even though are a tech-savvy generation, they also have memories of a simple, offline, childhood. A time when there was no pressure to have and cultivate an online persona, along with a long list of technologies that are now obsolete, paint a nostalgic picture. Unfortunately for this generation, mental illness and the likes is still something that is, in a way, looked down upon, rather than something seen as “in need of treatment”. Many Gen Y young adults, chose to drag their sometimes crippling conditions through life with them out of fear of not being taken seriously. Going back to the idea of romanticising the past, I believe it is a very strong, and often overlooked reason of the “sad adult syndrome”. Millenials have a somewhat odd relationship with technology because even though they became accustomed to the idea of “tech within their formative years, the exact items that they grew up with, no longer exist nowadays; this leads to a 60


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certain distortion of time perspective, as things seem much further away in the past than they actually are. In essence Generation Y, suffered from a kind of “trauma”, a technological shock when modern day technology came through and solidified itself as a staple of day to day life. And as it is with certain patients who have suffered from trauma, they tend to revert back to a time before all that happened; in this case, the 80’s and 90’s. In a few words, Millenials like Vaporwave because it fulfils, although in an empty, face-value manner, their wish to go back to the time when they didn’t have to worry about the world. It is a silent revolution – a digital punk movement – that lets this generation connect in their unspoken melancholy, ironically through a medium that belongs in the category of things that brought upon them so many of the issues they face. In a more metaphorical manner, if one can put their issues in pastels and put the words through a technological filter (e.g. error text boxes), said issues become dehumanised and therefore easier to deal with, or, more appropriately, ignore. It’s almost like digital weed – the serenity and very subtly comical irony of the Vaporwave sound take the listener on a trip to their “happy place”. Certain real-life issues don’t seem so heavy when read from a pixelated speech bubble. Rather than dealing with their problems they choose to 61


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strip them of importance and have a sad laugh about it. But, continuing the metaphor, the tab is still open, playing an annoying tune in the back of their heads, called reality. And when they close all the other tabs that were keeping them busy, they can hear it at full volume once again. And instead of clicking on it and facing whatever lies there, they just put up more tabs, filled with palm trees, badly rendered Wii characters and Fiji water bottles (all motifs of the Vaporwave aesthetic of course). But as soft and pleasant as these walks through nostalgia are, the truth remains, the hardware can be painted any lovely colour, it won’t change or improve the software; Vaporwave is simply a guilty pleasure, it doesn’t fix anything. An upside of being part of Generation Y, is that you have access, in some cases, to your memories through mediums that are both very relevant and specific to the times that they come from (e.g. VHS tapes or Polaroid images). It’s more significant because the medium contributes to the memory as a whole experience. Vaporwave creates “a memory of a memory”; it induces the state of nostalgia through the use and re-contextualization of said mediums in a way that can make you nostalgic for something you weren’t even necessarily a part of (e.g. European Millenials being nostalgic for certain things present only in American 80’s and 90’s youth culture) – an aspect that comes as part of the globalised nature of the genre.

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During the last decades, the underground rejected the technology giving rise to a lo-fi aesthetic in a scene composed mostly of authentic, community and warm music producers confronting the technological mainstream, cheap and impersonal. However, what began as a countercultural stance, ended up being adopted and engulfed by the mainstream and terms such as “nostalgia”, “revival”, “vintage” or “retro” have become quite common in popular culture. On the New Ugly, Carballo and San Román write the following characteristics that appear frequently: “The deviation with respect to the established norm, the mundane or popular character of their graphic references, the deconstruction of cultural heritage, the mixture of motifs decontextualized to procure new meanings, the impurity - or ‘imperfection - of messages, the distortion of forms or the suppression of analogical and digital limits through the incorporation of craft elements” In the end, as I see it, we’re moving forward but walking backwards. We’re moving towards the future as all things do, but instead of having our eyes peeled to what the future holds, we tighten our grasp on all things related to the past and call it “ironic” in an attempt to save digital face, when in reality it’s a fearful cry for help at the incoming emptiness that the future holds for the generations to come.

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Clear example of the Vaporwave aesthetic by clustering classic VW elements together

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VAPORWAVE AESTHETIC MANIFESTO

This aesthetic manifesto has been curated over months of deep investigation into infinite subreddit threads, instagram posts and tumblr images. The final decision was of course, mine to make since the perception of the world of vaporwave aesthetic changes from person to person, since there is not a single guide available on the looks of Vaporwave. This guide has the goal to serve as a Vaporwave Aesthetic Standard to take into consideration when creating Vaporwave art pieces. The guide has been divided into 4 categories: Imagery, colours & effects, and messages.

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VAPORWAVE AESTHETIC MANIFESTO

IMAGERY Rain Cds Game Boy Game Cube Nintendo DS Pictochat Classic columns Classic busts Clear materials 90s tv 90s computer Windows 95 Big plants / Palm trees MS Paint Checkerboard PS1 Sega Fiji Water Arizona Tea Crystal Pepsi Nike Adidas Nintendo Tokyo at night / Asian Megacities Japanese text Cassette tapes Grids (straight grids and warped grids) VHS Tape Anime Scenes (settings with no people) Malls Water Empty office details anime

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VAPORWAVE AESTHETIC MANIFESTO

COLOURS/EFFECTS Glitch Neon Lighting Pink Purple Blue Pixel art Warping / Distorting Basic 3D Rendering VHS effect Lo-fi effect Checkered effect Gradients VCR Fonts Distorted fonts Neon-esque fonts

MESSAGES About Vaporwave being dead About being dead inside About killing yourself About being hated About being trapped About taking antidepressants About fake deep sad life quotes About feeling nostalgia towards the 90s With generic one word insults With random words in Japanese scripture With western brands in Japanese scripture About General nostalgia towards someone

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DIGITAL ART IN THE REAL WORLD

To start with this segment I had to completely understand the meanings of the words virtual, digital, and art. According to the Oxford online dictionary here are the definitions (only showing the pertinent definitions of each word). Virtual /ˈvəːtʃʊ(ə)l/ Almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition. 1 Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so. 2 Carried out, accessed, or stored by means of a computer, especially over a network. Origin of the word: Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘possessing certain virtues’): from medieval Latin virtualis, from Latin virtus ‘virtue’, suggested by late Latin virtuosus. Digital /ˈdɪdʒɪt(ə)l/ 1 Relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals. 2 Involving or relating to the use of computer technology. Origin of the word: Late 15th century: from Latin digitalis, from digitus ‘finger, toe’. Art /ɑːt/ 1 The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2 Works produced by human creative skill and imagination. Origin of the word: Middle English: via Old French from Latin ars, art-.

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When we bring digital or virtual art into the real world what we are really doing is adapting it to a new context. To devirtualise someone or something is a rather new term that can not be defined by the Oxford dictionary but rather by the Urban Dictionary. UD defines devirtualisation as “The act or process of meeting someone, with whom one has previously only had contact on the Internet, in real life for the first time.� Using it in the context of net art works the same way. It means taking a piece of art that has only existed in the hyperspace of the internet and bringing it to our physical 3D world, thus completely changing the context in which it exists. This could either give the piece a whole new meaning or, if it is done correctly, preserve the effect it had in its previous digital context. The main motivation for this project, apart from generating a guide on what can be considered part of the Vaporwave aesthetic and what is not, is to break the barrier between digital art and physical art pieces. By doing this we can learn so much; it can open new discussions on how to achieve digital effects in the real world. This would mean to give more sensoriality to pieces that are already very stimulant; for example playing with textures and materials, incorporating lighting as part of art pieces from minute one, playing with smell to give the piece an effect... Digital art is more often that not, overlooked and considered a commodity we can just double tap 76


DIGITAL ART IN THE REAL WORLD

scrolling through our instagram feeds but the truth is, through developing this project, I have discovered that there are a lot of feelings that are being expressed through the art of the internet that I usually find art in our real world is missing. David Bowie himself once said in 1999 in a video interview that “The context and the state of content is going to be so different to anything we can really envisage at the moment, where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about,”. By reading this, we can say, first of all, he was a pioneer of art expression through different platforms and secondly that we can not deny the context we now live in is radically different to the prior times where art expression was at its peak (i.e. the Sistine Chapel times) and that we must mold ourselves and our expressions to the time we live in. Words change through time, we now use slang that had never been used before to talk about issues that were not even existent a decade ago. Technology changes, our lifestyle changes, society changes, so why should the world of art and art galleries remain unchanged? This is an open invitation to anyone who really want to shake the world of art to push their pieces further, to stop relying only on the sense of sight and to play with the transmission of emotions through new routes.

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Example of a digital art exhibition (Taipei, Light in the Storm)

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THE EXHIBITION | INTRODUCTION

A. INTRODUCTION The aim of this exhibition is to bring Vaporwave back from the realm of the dead and to materialise Vaporwave aesthetics by means of a dissection of its parts. The project started by trying to understand what the infamous on the internet “Vaporwave a e s t h e t i c” is all about and most importantly what it’s not about. Since its an online art movement categorised inside the “net art” box each individual person interprets Vaporwave in their own unique way with no understanding of what truly is. Through intense investigation and thousands of Reddit threads, I have created a vaporwave aesthetic manifesto that encapsulates the essence behind the aesthetic elements in this “art” movement. There are many sub-genres of vaporwave (such as simpsonwave, synthwave, punk wave...) but they are not pure vaporwave, that’s why they belong in the sub-genre category. It’s not that people lack the desire to learn what “pure” Vaporwave is but because there isn’t a style guide that indicates what fits and what doesn’t in this specific art movement. For instance, art textbooks that clearly state what classic roman art looked like or what characteristics modernist art has to have to belong in the modernist current. The imagery associated with vaporwave includes glitch art, Ancient Greek sculptures, 2000’s web design, outmoded computer renderings and classic cyberpunk aesthetics. 81


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Use of Japanese characters and other non-western writing systems is also prominent. Though a good deal of Vaporwave focuses on the nostalgia of the 2000’s simply to create a soothing, hypnotic appearance and elicit an emotional undertone, or to be left intentionally emotionless, a large portion of Vaporwave music and aesthetic continues to give off a Warholesque critique on uber-consumerist society (therefore mentioning some specific brands throughout most of the art compositions that are created) via a separation of product and commercialisation. Boiling down Vaporwave to its aesthetic core elements, taking them out of context and mixing and matching some of these elements together should create a new piece of Vaporwave art. Or should it? Following a formula to create new visuals is what most people online who create this type of art do (there are even some free starter Vaporwave pngs packs that one can download to make their own Vaporwave art). There is only one thing that makes this exhibition a little different... Vaporwave is always showcased through screens and by means of the internet but in this scÊnario, the pieces are produced in the tangible world. A series of strange photoshopped and distorted looking objects taken out of the context of the internet arranged in such a way that they are treated like untouchable art. Bringing Vaporwave not only to life but also questioning its meaning and generating a debate 82


THE EXHIBITION | INTRODUCTION

on what is considered art nowadays and what isn’t. A collection that tangibilizes Vaporwave, all hand assembled but 100% internet inspired. The exhibition “alone / shopping in the virtual plaza” merges the hatred and appreciation towards western consumerism, escapism from the real world and western routines, outdated technology and objects that exist just for their a e s t h e t i c value that would be impossible in any other context out of the internet. The collection includes 15 pieces that represent two or more key elements taken from the style guide curated by me produced and presented in such a way that what the visitor is seeing is somewhere between being in the presence of an illusion that should belong inside a screen and just mixmatched retro-futuristic nonsense. Brining Vaporwave back to life and into a real-world context is a conversation starter where everyone can have an opinion about what is and isn’t art. The exhibition emphasises repetition of elements that range from obsolete technology, colour pallets, brands, classic sculpture and elements of nature. By creating this exhibition a light is shone upon not only Vaporwave but all other net art genres and sub-genres. There is an endless array of possibilities of internet-inspired creations in the world of design (be it furniture, book covers, materials and even exhibitions).

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THE EXHIBITION | PRE-EXHIBITION

B. PRE-EXHIBITION Planning an exhibition is something I had in mind since the start of the project. I wanted to experiment what it is like to go through the whole process alone and detect what I liked more and what I was good at myself. It was a big challenge for me since I was the artist, interior designer, lighting designer, event organiser, promoter, project manager and even the whole cleaning department. To come up with the concept for the exhibition I only had to look back through all the research and conclusions I had come up with previously and put two and two together. How is it possible that in the age of technology we have never seen a physical interpretation of what virtual items would look like in the real world. To come up with all these fantastic creations and to just abandon them in the deepness of the internet is just criminal. So many good ideas that could be exhibited around the world can not just be swallowed by the immensity of hyperspace. Through mixing and matching concepts from the Vaporwave Aesthetic Manifesto I started pondering upon possible combinations while also looking for real Vaporwave art I could find on the internet. The process started by figuring out what concepts I could come up with mixing and matching two or more key elements. Infinite combinations come up, of course, as they should. I had to narrow 84


THE EXHIBITION | PRE-EXHIBITION

down the selection to start looking for materials to create the pieces. Mixing my own imagination and Vaporwave knowledge I came up with some combinations that were 100% original but others I tried to mimic something that already existing on some of the websites I had previously researched to really break the barrier between the virtual and the real world. Once I had decided on about fifteen to twenty pieces I started placing amazon orders and scavenger hunting different objects I needed. Turns out it is rather difficult to find a roman bust for less that 80₏ be it online or in person. After spending all my savings I had to travel on materials I started putting it all together. I collected from old Mac computer screens and bases (found hidden in the library at Barcelona’s Sant Pau Hospital Research Center), old vhs tapes, plants, decorative columns to all kinds of spray paints amongst hundreds of other materials I tried. It was a slow process and slowly but surely the pieces started to come together. I set up my workspace at home on my 1,5mx5m balcony and claimed that space as mine for the following months. Many pieces died halfway since the techniques I was using did not convey what I wanted them to exactly so I just decided to keep producing as many good pieces that I thought would work and be time efficient with each project. If I was waiting for X package to come to complete a piece I would work on another piece while letting yet another piece dry off the 85


THE EXHIBITION | PRE-EXHIBITION

spray paint I used to cover it with very bright pink Vaporwave shades. Once I started seeing the pieces for the exhibition take shape I then started sending emails asking for a place to hold my exhibition to a handful of art galleries that I thought would fit my needs. Turns out, to ask for a place to exhibit your projects you have to apply a year in advance in most cases. On the following pages there are some of the emails i received as a response. After that reality check I had to come up with a whole new plan. From minute one I avoided hosting the exhibition at my University since I thought that would not be very Vaporwave of me. But something clicked in my brain. There is a very dark dungeon looking space at the end of the marble staircase that could possibly work for me. I did not want my exhibition to be easily locatable either or that people would walk into it by mistake so that emergency exit / dungeon space was just perfect, no one ever went there. So I decided to get a move on and asked for permission for that space, reserving it for the 4th and 5th of June and rushed to buy checkered fabric to construct a Vaporwave looking tent exhibition. As time progressed and the date was getting closer I had covered the university with posters promoting the exhibition and I just had to wait.

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MISCELANEA<info@miscelanea.info> mar 22/05, 17:54 Usted;programacion@miscelanea.info Bandeja de entrada Hola Luis, gracias por tu propuesta, pero la programación de la galería se realiza con un año de antelación. Si quisieras presentar la propuesta en la sala LAB el viernes 1 podríamos estudiarlo, pero necesitamos que nos envíes mas información del proyecto, las características técnicas del montaje y cómo planteas el evento en cuánto a público, horario y demás. gracias Fátima Ibáñez

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Alba Arnau- Espacio88<alba@espacio88.com> mar 22/05, 16:37 Usted Hola Luis, Gracias por contactar con nosotros. Muy interesante el proyecto, pero lamentablemente no te podremos apoyar en este, ya que hasta el 31 de mayo tenemos otra exposición en el espacio en nuestro proyecto The White Wall y a partir del 1 estaremos preparando la de la BDW. Mucha suerte! Uh saludo, Alba Arnau

El Diluvio Universal <hola@eldiluviouniversal.com> vie 25/05, 10:41 Usted Bandeja de entrada Hola Luís Gracias por pensar en nuestro espacio, pero lamentablemente no podemos ayudarte, tenemos una exposición en curso y es imposible sacarla para que puedas hacer tu expo pop up.

Espero que lo comprendas. saludos, elisa

Some of the response emails I got back when asking for a place to hold the exhibition

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C. THE EXHIBITION To advertise the exhibition to everyone at my university I came up with a series of three posters that were very fitting to what I wanted the people to believe they were in for when they walked in. Here are the poster I designed (and some of the attempts that did not make the cut). As the visitors came down the staircase they did not see anything but a checkered cube space in a very unusual spot inside the university. They were then greeted by one of the assistants I had on location told them no additional information will be given to them until they had finished observing all the pieces. The space was illuminated by a remote controlled water light projector that shon blue and pink light on the artwork that mixed with my carefully curated Vaporwave playlist created an ethereal atmosphere that was also part of the overall experience. As they walked past each of the pieces they could see right beside each one: the name, the piece number and the price for each piece. Once they had finished walking by all of the pieces and taking pictures they were then handed a questionnaire that had only 3 questions on it: (INSERTAR CUESTIONARIO) Once they had filled in the sheet they handed it in to one of my assistants 90


THE EXHIBITION | THE EXHIBITION

who then handed them a bottle of Fiji water. After that I proceeded to talk to them about what all of this was and what purpose it had. Once I was done with the explanation I handed them a pamphlet that explains Vaporwave in a nutshell just in case someone asks them where they have been and they do not remember or do not know how to explain it. It was interesting to me that many different kinds of people came to my exhibition. People from all different backgrounds (Biology Doctorates, Economists, International business students, all kinds of designers, engineers...) and they all seemed to understand what the exhibition was about and that was later corroborated in the questionnaire that will be analysed in the next section of this paper.

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The pieces exhibited are the following: 1.Floral Shoppe | フローラルの専門店 2. the Internet is Alive and Well |

インターネットは生きている

3. tell me I am Real |

私が本当で

あるかどうか教えてください

4. boneless Water Altar (ltd. edition) | 無骨な水のための祭壇 5. W95_S0FTDRINK (ltd. edition) 6. 日本基準 · 新渇米コシヒカリ | Japan standard · New thirst Koshihikari 7. 早くやれよ.WAV | justdoit.wav 8. diet clorox VHS (ltd. edition) | ダイエットクロロックス 9. クリスタル.mp3 | crystal.mp3 10. i’m fine | 大丈夫です 11. don’t answer | 応答しません 12. risk of dying (please touch) | 死

ぬリスク(触れてください)

13. Overheated.kbd | 過熱キーボード The following few pages contain a brief explanation of each piece and pictures taken at the exhibition of all the art.

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THE EXHIBITION | THE EXHIBITION

1.Floral Shoppe | フローラルの専門店 This first piece is completely inspired by the most famous Vaporwave album, Floral Shoppe. Since the imagery of this piece has pretty much set the tone for what it means to be in the Vaporwave aesthetic. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: neon pink, old mac computer, checker board and roman bust.

2. the Internet is Alive and Well |

インターネットは生きている

This second piece is inspired by a very specific image found on pinterest that shows a palm tree coming out of a computer screen. For reasons that have to do with gravity I had to make it so the palm comes out of the top of the computer. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: white, clean aesthetic and greenery.

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3. tell me I am Real | 私が本当で あるかどうか教えてください This piece was the first piece that was created for the collection. It shows a roman bust face in clear resin looking like it has been trapped between clear blue waters. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: roman busts, water, clear materials.

j 4. boneless Water Altar (ltd. edition) | 無骨な水のための祭壇 This piece is inspired by the constant reference and use to crystal pepsi throughout all kinds of art pieces in Vaporwave From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: roman comlumns, crystal pepsi, cds, clear materials.

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5. W95_S0FTDRINK (ltd. edition) This piece is a literal representation of the special edition of the Sapporo beer released by Windows for their release party, there are currently less than ten in the woeld and they are sold for more than $400 online. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: Windows95, clean, japanese texts.

6. 日本基準 · 新渇米コシヒカリ | Japan standard This piece suffered an inconvenience when setting up the exhibition so there are no available images that are up to the standard of the project but this is what it was inspired by From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: fiji water, game boy color, clear blue water.

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7.

早くやれよ.WAV

| justdoit.wav

This piece is inspired by the many representations I have encountered through the internet of the Nike Brand and its Kanji scripture used in all kinds of Nike unrelated products. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: cd, nike, japanese brand, warped grids and neon pink.

8. diet clorox VHS (ltd. edition) |

ダイエットクロロックス

This piece represents the angst of the Vaporwave community and the constant references to their will to die and mentioning drinking clorox mixed with their superficial belief of diet products. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: vhs, clorox, white, pink and blue.

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9. クリスタル.mp3 | crystal.mp3 This piece represents the obsession with crystal pepsi and bringing it into everything. Bringing diet pepsi to a cassette tape format is the epithamy of Vaporwave aesthetic. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: cassette, crystal pepsi, white, pink and blue.

10. i’m fine |

大丈夫です

This piece is mixing the concept of the classic apple mouse with the colourfulness of the backside of cds splashing out of a clear water bowl. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: fiji water, game boy color, clear blue water.

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11. don’t answer |

応答しません

This piece was born from real fusion of concepts. From badly rendered body pieces (a hand in this case) a roman bust face made out of latex and an old telephone putting it together. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: old technology, neon pink, precarious rendering, roman busts.

12. risk of dying (please touch) |

ぬリスク(触れてください)

This piece was created from the remains of the computer screens in pieces one and two. Making them white maked it look like it is th moody industrial part of a city in east Asia. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: blue and pink lights, city scenery, old computer parts.

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13. Overheated.kbd | 過熱キーボード This piece is a strongly inspired by the deformations in Vaporwave digital art, playing with the materials may give it a new effect that replicates a glitch. From the aesthetic manual we took the concepts: old computer parts, clean, white, neon lights, japanese texts about sadness.

The next few pages show all the pieces at the exhibition.

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piece nยบ1: floral shoppe

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piece nยบ2: the internet is alive and well

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piece nº3: tell me i’m real

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piece nยบ4: boneless water altar

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piece nยบ5: W95_S0FTDRINK

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piece number 6 has been accidentally deleted we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

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piece nยบ7: justdoit.wav

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piece nยบ8: diet clorox VHS

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piece nยบ9: crystal.mp3

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piece nº10: i’m fine

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piece nÂş11: donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t answer

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piece nยบ12: risk of dying (please touch)

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piece nยบ13: overheated.kbd

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general photographs from the exhibition 127


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general photographs from the exhibition 129


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general photographs from the exhibition 131


Posters to advertise the exhibition were placed around the university

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Flyer that was handed to the visitors of the exhibition from where I drew conclusions.

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CONCLUSIONS

First of all and most importantly I would like to state that project has made me grow as a designer, a researcher, an artist and a thinker. I have learnt how to question everything that is around us, to not follow the rules that are established by classic design and art and that there is a gap in the art world for what I think. Trying to break the wall between digital and physical art has shown me that it is possible to transmit digital effects with analogous materials or media. Everything that creates an illusion online can be replicated in the real world we live in. To answer the question that has been on my mind since I started this project; is Vaporwave still as Vaporwave if it is experienced in real life rather than seen on a screen? The routound answer is yes. It is very clear from the feedback that I got from the exhibition I hosted that the attendees had to fill out a form answering which three words came to mind when visiting this exhibition. Only about 5% of the people who came by the event knew what Vaporwave was beforehand so their answers were not taken into consideration during this analysis. The most popular words that came up, in order were the following: Retro-futurist Nostalgia Psychotropic (this one surprised me) Modern Obsolete Consumerism 137


CONCLUSIONS

Reading all the answers that people wrote down (around 80 attendees) I could not be happier with what I was seeing. Everyone got the feeling that I was intending to artificially generate, through the art, the playlist I had previously curated for the exhibition and the lighting. The fact that most of the attendees wrote down the words nostalgia, retro-futuristic and consumerism means that I had successfully transmitted the pure essence of what Vaporwave art is all about. Going through all the different phases of this project; from the research, generating the aesthetic manifesto, organising and creating an exhibition..., has given me so much experience in all that goes into the world of art exhibitions and generally creating art pieces with a purpose. I can see how this art can now generate a conversation that is way larger than my project. I have set a new standard for my way of designing questioning everything from the materials and techiques used and to venture into new ways of creating that I have not previouly tested. Even when something starts as an experiment it can further on transform into a final art piece with some extra work. In conclusion, this project has exceeded my expectations. It represents the journey of how something that started with a purely aesthetic purpose has now made me completely change my personal way of developing projects from now on. 138


CONCLUSIONS

Regardless of anything, this project has successfully broken the barrier between the internet and the world we physically live in, bringing net art into our 3D world and generating genuine discussion about ways of exhibiting and presenting new art. Digital art does have space in our materialistic society and original digital art pieces can exist and not just be a volatile .png file shared around the hyperspace. Vaporwave, eventhough it is in fact â&#x20AC;&#x153;deadâ&#x20AC;? as mentioned in about every post on the internet, has shone a light through this project on how net art works in the real world as well (or even better) playing with even more sensations and senses than a piece of digital art could ever do. Giving net art a new context and playing around with it we can develop new ways of designing and creating new techniques and materials that replicate digital effects or impossible illusions in out physical context.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Reddit.com. (2016). basics - Vaporwave. [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/ Vaporwave/wiki/basics [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. Reddit. (2016). What is the essentials of nailing the cyberpunk aesthetic? â&#x20AC;˘ r/Cyberpunk. [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/ Cyberpunk/comments/38v2dt/what_is_the_ essentials_of_nailing_the_cyberpunk/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. Soapboxie. (2017). 5 Reasons Why Millennials Are so Depressed. [online] Available at: https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Why-areMillennials-so-Depressed [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. Stehlik, L. (2012). Seapunk: scenester in-joke or underground art movement?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www. theguardian.com/music/2012/dec/14/seapunkhas-now-gone-pop [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. Vaporwave. (2018). Costanza, Apartment 5A Seinwave Music - Vaporwave. [online] Available at: http://vaporwave.co/costanza-apartment-5aseinwave-music/ [Accessed 15 Apr. 2018]. Vaporwave. (2018). Vaporwave Aesthetics in Music & Art - Vaporwave. [online] Available at: http://vaporwave.co/vaporwave-aestheticsmusic-art/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. WosX (2015). Vaporwave: A Brief History. [video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=PdpP0mXOlWM [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018]. Resident Advisor. (2018). The online underground: A new kind of punk?. [online] Available at: https://www.residentadvisor.net/ features/2137 [Accessed 10 May. 2018].

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