Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (19/12/2014)
The modernist monochrome street goth sport goth health goth aesthetic lies in the crypts of tumblr networks splintering into accelerated hyper-defined image culture bursting out into a fragmented post-Fordist-crash historical moment for the digitalised immaterial generation in which the present has to be reimagined and reinvented as we understand the future envisioned by the current ancien regime is already sold-off in a macabre maelstrom of financial algorithms. Yes that’s right the over/de/sensitised youth trudging on the treadmill of institutionalist futures are actually capable of cultural intervention as carnivalesque dissent rooted in historical consciousness; it isn’t the exclusionary privilege of twentieth century dislocated cultural exiles, though that might upset a grumpy old man or two. The fragments of the goth aesthetic reconstituted for our secular crisis represents one of the more historically conscious aesthetics that shows potentialities of dissent through culture and association.
With that said, late capitalist cultural logic has had no problem in appropriation with the likes of ubiquitous conglomerate retailer H&M managing our metropolitan streets with images of Alexander Wang’s latest haute goth collection. And well the absurdity of the k hole #normcore trend is high tragic farce at its finest in which contentless ideology is packaged and sold to a gentrified culture of creative industries attempting to live out orientalist fantasies of the ‘poor but sexy’, to quote Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit. The gentrifying accumulation of cultural capital; a governing pathology of social cleansing of subaltern subjectivities attempting to manage avant-garde forms of social reproduction into capital’s flows of ideology.
In “enigmatic” artist Dean Blunt’s work we find a sharp critique and simultaneous counter-construction of the death of the black aesthetic. His most recent album Black Metal (a nod to the Norwegian realms of dysphoric icy metal articulation of a much grimmer counter-point to everyone’s favourite 90s disaffected youth Kurt Cobain) problematising black commercialism’s fetishisation of white pasts and simultaneous subsumption of contemporary avant-garde while he himself crosses textured lo-fi with Stravinsky’s sublime. Case in point, Kanye West’s newest album Yeezus with tracks such as ‘Black Skinheads’ and ‘We are the New Slaves’ epitomises a spectacle’s dearth of #pureideology, much in the same way as black capital’s first lady Beyonce’s ‘Feminism’ or Rihanna’s #seapunk style does the rounds on saturated tumblr image culture. Interestingly Kanye West called on a bunch of slightly more experimental producers for his latest LP, including Caracas’s Arca – by way of New York and London of course – whose latest album Xen is thematically centred around a non-gendered/genderqueer avatar named Xen. This arguably reflects the increasing metropolitan hybrid queer nature of a western avant-garde, although we may also want to raise questions of the historical context of such cultural production, namely the contradictions of the ‘global city’ with its flows of racialised capital and state violence, alongside avant-garde forms of social reproduction that can all too easily be subsumed into ideologies of manageability and institutionalism.
18+ are an American duo playing away in the underbelly of internet, releasing mixtapes for free on their tumblr and screening their videos at the likes of the Venice Biennale with their music consisting of seedy haunting pop sounds evoking the ‘deep web’ while in line with the trend of vaporwave; a kind of embrace and deconstruction of an accelerated hyper-circulative culture while in the process constructing something quite extraordinary across a number of mediums. Until recently they referred to themselves as boy/sis but have since ‘come out’ with their first material release (LP Trust) revealing their IRL personas. Living in hegemonic times of totalised narratives and coercive reductive ‘identities’ integral to our socially reproduction/to live/ carving out a space from fragments to construct something hinting at the ethereal, even sublime, that falls beyond existing taxonomies of articulation offers a potential for unmanageability; unmanageability as dissent against banality. It all lies in the temporal fragments; in the breaks; the avant-garde as gothic; gothic as the distorted mirror-image of banal governing hegemonies.
Classical post-industrial post-colonial kid playing around with electronic sounds, messing with clothes design and of course the more than occasional fashion-shoot,tweeting, naturally / problematising the spectacle of manageable yuppified ‘creative industry’ media forms while satiating an age-old desire for some decent audio-visual culture, as misplaced as that might sometimes seem. Sometimes gratuitous cultural consumption is all you can do to get through the grimy neurosis of post-Fordist traumas and there ain’t nothing wrong with that; it offers other spaces //other narratives//other aesthetics//other[ed] others breaking up psycho-geographical temporalities.
And in amongst containerised creative industries there’s the ever-looming spectre of the kitsch; the epitome of reproduced tat for a people yearning for cultural capital, for taste and status, but falling into a pit of soft nationalist delusions of grandeur. But what if the kitsch is prefigured, even distorted, and weaponised into – yes our good friend – the art of the sublime. With their fluffy cute post-internet/post-digital/post-new post/post-aesthetic London-based PC Music are one of those sublime collectives weaponising pop kitschness in dissent to contemporary laddish bass club culture which unsurprisingly comes across as rather queer. One of the proponents – SOPHIE – presents an ambiguous avatar with hi-tempo hi-energy hi-definition pop via soundcloud, reflective of an accelerated hyper-circulative late capitalist ideology intensified by post-crash no futurism no doubt. In end times of postmodern simulacrum and capitalist realism perhaps all that is left are constructions from distorted mirror-images of temporally fragmented faculties/excavating cultural production/pure gothic/ pure qt.
Postblack postqueer posthuman posttemporal #amirite?
But meh maybe its all privileged posing nonsense, maybe time will tell; though dislocated migrant persons are always dissonant, always queer(y)ing the institutionalised logics of taxonomies; trying to [w]rite//to excavate the displaced multi-temporalities of modernity’s metanarratives, not that its easy//
tl;dr? time’s a right fucker