Cut-down music and tightly edited video. Over time, art in the media is getting closer to perfection, making it incalculable. In these digital contents, there is a sound wave that has risen to silence.
If you are interested in watching YouTube or enjoying media such as music video shot with VHS, city pop in the 80s, visuals with noise, and faded colors, you might have seen it recently. The digital generation that pursued clarity and modernity is now absorbing analog sensibility. Let's see what analog genre is attracting attention in this trend, and how the genre started and developed in recent years.
To pick the most notable genre, VAPORWAVE is the one. 80s sensibility and digital culture mixed with mindlessness, extremely low pitch, retro pop with effects and psychedelic colors. One can guess that it was a kind of craze rather than a simple genre even if he searched a little on the internet.
The beginning of the VAPORWAVE was known in 2000 as a music genre called Chill wave.
A significant artist is Ariel Pink.
(Ariel Pink - Doldrums, 2000)
The sound that was inspired by 80s synthesizer and old pop doesn’t sound awkward even comparing to VHS video and current trend. Chilwave developed into a genre called Hypnagogic Pop by going through several artists, and in 2008 James Frararo came up with a big frame of the VAPORWAVE.
Macintosh Plus drew as the mainstream of the VAPORWAVE via YouTube.
(Macintosh Plus - Lisa Frank 420 of Floral Shoppe, 2008)
The Internet generations felt fresh in these sub-genres and began to produce and spread similar types of mixtape and retro video with YouTube, sound cloud, and so on. Unlike the artists who sampled pop in the early 80s, they tended to mix the 80s media and culture of Japan, which played a major role in attracting Japanese city pop again.
VAPORWAVE, which has made great progress in digital platforms like YouTube, has become a media genre that combines video and music that are not limited to only music. Also, the expression range has been expanded to become a genre that can be made easy and consumable.
In the 2010’s, the emotion of the 90s came back by some designers, and Youths showed the movement to extend the analog sensibility to a culture without confining it to fashion. The same code of the VAPORWAVE was naturally encountered in this flow, so it was printed on clothing, or expanded to tattoo and interior. As such, the VAPORWAVE has evolved along with the retro trends and has now reached the mass media, making it easier for us to reach.
Now, the VAPORWAVE culture can be easily found and enjoyed by everyone but some people started to perceive it as an overused genre. It is presumed that it was considered as a kind of fashion to stay in a season rather than a unique genre as the characteristics of fashion and internet culture that are added to the genre which began with music. Will the VAPORWAVE disappear in the future? Or will different genres appear? I personally think that the fun of 'analog' is not known fully at all. I would like to introduce another genre that I have watched with interest.
(Paik Namjoon - Global Groove, 1973)
I wanted to make my own visual works of Paik Nam-joon in my childhood and to make them myself, but I had decided that it was a difficult task to express myself with my limited electronic knowledge. But I found out that the principle of synthesizers are used in music as video signals and tried to approach them, but the price was too expensive. However, as much as I wanted to try, I investigated it further and found a new genre that was not difficult to access.
At first glance, it could be similar to the VAPORWAVE but you can feel different atmosphere. A little tougher, unusual mood with unexpected variants. Circuit Bending refers to genres that produce unexpected sounds and burns that are caused by intentional errors in the instrument or video output device. It is used in video game machines, digital cameras, and more different applications.
This work of using electricity seems difficult and dangerous, but its principle is simple to make errors in the circuit, so anyone with curiosity can access it very easily and safely.
(Circuit Banding tutorial using old Nintendo)
The circuit-banding culture differs from VAPOR culture in many respects, and although it is not connected with popular culture, it is a category that is side by side with the VAPORWAVE in terms of audio visual genre, so there is a potential possibility. Perhaps for those who seeks for something new can be satisfied in their curiosity. Rather than just accepting trends, digging a little deep inside can help finding a new culture and find elements that can be developed into one’s own. I’m looking forward to what digital generations enjoying analog culture will make and show.