Aesthetics and identity

DJ Vinyl Turntable in Club

Chances are if you’re old enough to go to university, you’re old enough to feel nostalgic about something. That something can be a time, or a place, or a group of friends, or a general aesthetic that just resonates with you and you can’t quite capture why.

I stumbled across Aesthetics Wiki last night and found agreed names for a whole lot of the scenes that I didn’t realize resonated with so many other people. Apparently I’m not the only one who has always enjoyed the “After Hours” aesthetic of appreciating generally busy public places - now empty, quiet, and usually at night. I knew that I wasn’t the only person who had a particular fondness for mid 90s - early 2000s visual design and music, but I never knew what to call it. So far, I’ve found three different specific styles that make up everything I’ve been seeing in my head: “Vectorheart”, “Metalheart” and “Gen X Soft Club.” I wouldn’t have picked those names myself, but someone suggested them originally and there is enough agreeance that we now have a point of reference to share the experience.

I think it is great that the state of the internet today has allowed more of us to connect with others over such specific cultural tastes. This helps to birth the next evolution of a lot of these cultural styles as people try bringing them back with a modern sensibility. This is why we can have 80s Miami Police style movies, but with modern pacing (so newer generations don’t get bored). It’s a way of passing down culture.

But it’s also worth remembering that, as great it is that it is a shared experience, it is also a highly personal experience. When I look at the Aesthetics Wiki page for “After Hours,” for example, I personally wouldn’t include movies like Blade Runner as I feel they are a lot darker than the peacefulness and quietness I associate with the style. But that doesn’t make it wrong — that is just my personal experience of it. I know other students who connect strongly with styles from the 70s, or the 50s, or the 20s. I don’t personally have that same feeling towards those eras, but by appreciating my own connection to my aesthetics, it helps me to appreciate others’ connection to theirs.

Tagged in nostalgia, identity, What messes with your head