I love this line from a review of an M.I.A. show in NYC this week:
Teens in stripes, zebra prints, neon wigs, oversized shirts, huge chains, and tight pants were the dominant crowd and they really made the whole place bounce…. And of course, the whole thing pulsed like an awesomely bad website from 1996.
The aesthetic of contemporary streetwear, nu-rave, or whatever you call it, is totally early web. See:
jodi.org screenshot c. 1997
MIA’s website screenshot (taken today)
Unsurprisingly, this is also the aesthetic of MySpace in a lot of ways. I’ve been thinking a lot about media literacy in terms of being able to use visual communication as self-expression. If we assume (big “if”) that young people are fluent in the language of branding, advertising, television, and the internet, then it makes sense that this is the aesthetic that they often use to express themselves. In this case, mixing up music videos, hip-hop, magazine advertisements, kitschy Geocities pages, candy raving. It’s sort of the ultimate bricolage, post-modern pastiche, but it’s also super, uber commercial, very self-consciously performative, and seeped in nostalgia for the 1990s (much as the 90s was nostalgic for the 70′s and the late 90′s / early 00′s for the 80s). (In other words, postmodern pastiche is limited in its “resistive” effects). The muddled, muddy, repetitive, tacky options available for MySpace customization lets people use the same references, media snippets, and tools they understand to express themselves.
But I also think it’s very interesting to see this clear influence of web aesthetics on “real-life” fashion, album covers, parties, flyers, etc. All the Victorian damask/filigree that was so popular last year marks tote bags, couch slipcovers, and Evite templates in the same ways as located in a particular time and place. Cycles of fashion are not my thing, but their extension to the web fascinates me.
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