About Vaporwave

The Internet has shaken up the art world majorly by allowing independent creators to be seen by a larger and wider audience without the capital usually required to distribute art. On top of that, more individuals are viewing more art due to the abundance of images and sharing available. Increases in development technology have made design, video editing, and photo editing software accessible to any consumer as well, making them able to create and share their work in their free time.

Vaporwave is a micro-genre of electronic music and Internet memes that came out of a nostalgia and fascination for 1980s and 90s music and early internet imagery. The aesthetic came out of a tendency to see popular culture through a surrealist or nostalgic lens, many times to critique consumer culture. It was very much a counter and sub-culture, complete with a visual aesthetic of internet imagery as well as a musical one which sampled retro sounds. The visual realm features glitch art and cyberpunk elements, including popular video game or internet image samplings. It also utilizes a surreal combination of classical statues and art with 90s computer graphics. The auditory realm took samples from smooth jazz, retro elevator music, dance music, and 90s games. The idea was to have music with looping, effects, and cuts: it was a music that took 90s sources and cut them up and cleanly produced them together. The desired effect was to regulate the mood, in the same way as done on infomercials.

Our Headphones

We chose this counterculture because it is very much a subculture today that has a small but visible following. It is both visual and musical, which makes headphones a logical product that may emerge from it.

For our headphones, we decided to make the band extremely thin to resemble the digital lines of the vaporwave aesthetic. The portion that goes atop the ears features a round segment topped by a cutout star shape. The star is a nod to the graphic, computer shapes. We decided to color the whole headphones gold to bring out the satirical consumer critique, which also makes it bold and fun.

This was from 2017’s ‘Countercultural Headphones’ challenge. The students who made this are: awu lguo rtrivedi ltran.