Pop Culture Did It, So It Must Be Cool (Essay)

I wanted to write this essay because I recently came across the song ‘1999’ by Charli XCX as well as the music video and something that I’ve always wanted to explore is this romanticisation of the 90’s in regards to ‘post internet art’. 

That and also I really fancy Charli XCX so if you’re reading this, hmu bbz x

There’s something about “Post Internet Art” that fascinates me and on the surface, I’m genuinely intrigued by, but then also, I really can’t fucking stand it at all! With a statement like that, I’m aware that my chances of being a critical writer dances in the wind along with my once dream career of being a spaceman when I was 5. The music video in question starts off with the artist on her iPhone X (10) listening to music on wireless Beats by Dre headphones, and she texts on her phone, a Mercades Benz lit up by neon lights pulls up and the artist gets in. We are then transported through some “Matrix” type effects back to 1999 which includes depictions of classical moments from the 90’s (not just 99). 

Opening with the artist dressed as Steve Jobs holding the original iMac, TLC’s Waterfalls reenactment, the classic scene from Titanic at the end of the boat, Spice Girls, Sketchers advert and the list of 90’s references goes on and on. Filled with tacky effects and use of every single piece of nostalgia you can think of. I don’t particularly remember a lot from the 90’s apart from the film Small Soldiers and being absolutely determined to get the actual talking figures, and that they could move of their own accord. The Nokia 3310 purely for the reason of having changeable covers for it but a lot of my time, I was spent playing Doom on my Packard Bell computer/Resident Evil on my Playstation 1 and playing with my cat (RIP Oscar).

But the point I’m getting at is that, I was 8 years old in 1999 so I was very much at an age where I was under the influence of advertisement and capitalism, the only difference being is that I wanted ridiculous gadgets and toys and now as our choice and the more available things have become, we still want those ridiculous gadgets. They just look nicer and have better marketing. This point in time during the 90’s, the Internet wasn’t something that we fixated on or that we relied on, It was something that in our minds seemed like this utopia of what life could be like. Yet here we are, with “Post Internet” Art and relishing on what was once the 90’s/romanticising the aesthetic of a time that in itself was stuck in confusion, between the 80’s and naughties, the 90’s was the epitome of it’s style, ill fitted jeans, awful colour combinations and ill use of hair products. 

There are a few different elements of post internet art and what post internet art is that I want to explore such as what constitutes the aesthetic of post internet art, due to it being like internet explorer on acid. This aesthetic is reminiscent of Windows 98/1990’s technology, and I started to question what “post internet” art actually should be opposed to what it is, and this is purely due to the fact that nostalgia has little to no relation to the growth of the internet or what we are able to predict in regards to the future of the internet and what it holds for us.

There’s several avenues in which “post internet” art can take, concentrating on technology and the mile stones in which the technology we use today has made and the advancements that future technology is capable of. And there’s nostalgic “post internet” art filled with colourful GIF’s and old windows screensavers. I want to differentiate between the two and what relationship either one has to today in regards to where things are going.

I think that’s maybe the one thing thats holding me back from accepting or even allowing me to explore this movement is because I myself, want too see the future of art and whats to come, “post internet”, rather than seeing what is the inability to let go of one’s childhood. Everyone is nostalgic in some way, shape or form however its this that creates a fear of the future and somewhat clouds your judgement of what could be.

“Because it has no shape. It has no face, just this name that describes everything and nothing at the same time.”