A Collection of Channels is a series highlighting channels we’re paying attention to on Are.na.
The identification and assemblage of different aesthetics underpins a wide array of contemporary cultural practices, from moodboarding to starter packs, from visual art to gallery curation, from wardrobe choices to playlist-making. To the theorist Peli Grietzer, the development of an aesthetic or “vibe” is foundational to the process of artmaking in its entirety. Elements of the real world which share some loose, hard-to-define kinship are identified, pulled together in a work, so that in their condensation they take on an alien alterity.
The following channels are ones that seem to have set out with the primary intent of building, identifying, or communicating an aesthetic.
Urban Outfitters Tarkovsky
In "Urban Outfitters Tarkovsky," Michael Duong explores the visual overlap between the cinematography of midcentury director Andrei Tarkovsky and the branding of clothing retailer Urban Outfitters: soft lighting, faded shots, sparse domestic scenes, solitary figures lost inside ambient-architectural spaces. None of the images are themselves sourced from Tarkovsky or Urban Outfitters—instead, they're the logical continuation of a style, video clips and Polaroids that fit some common, hard-to-articulate vibe.
The research channel for what would eventually become a full-length essay, "Baroque Capitalism," encompasses both a cultural phenomenon and a visual aesthetic, part of a sensibility among some 1%ers and 1% aspirants that fetishizes gilded, ornate excess.
Neon Plants and Lava Lamps
From Are.na Dispatch: ”I yearn for a nonexistent place where lava lamps hide among lush plant life, all lit by the soft glow of neon signs. The thought of someday being there puts my mind at ease. This chan is a gesture towards that place.” The rules for the aesthetic are clear—neon lighting, palm fronds—and yet they evoke so much more through their visual associations.
Vaporwave is technically a music genre of sped-up and remixed 80s easy listening records. But it comes with a visual aesthetic of its own, situated somewhere between 80s glitz, Roman forum, and neo-Y2K, abounding in neo-classical sculptures, spray-paint-can Photoshop jobs, and impossible interior spaces a la Stanley Kubrick.