A curated screening
VIVO Media Arts Centre, July 8th, 2015

Role: Curator


Vaporwave is an artistic style that has recently emerged as an internet art phenomenon. The form, though somewhat obscure and disparate due to its predominantly online origins, can be characterized by its trippy and ironic combination of visual references that range from the iconography of classical antiquity (white marble, plaster busts), simplistic digital renderings of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and the lo-fi aesthetics of CD-ROM imagery especially clip art or early animation. Discussed at length in Reddit discussion boards and underground internet art communities, Vaporwave is defined and redefined by those who make it. The aesthetic is often deployed as a critique of consumerism through its use of satire and ironic nostalgia. It is related to the movement coined “The New Aesthetic” which considers works that often satirically draw on the visual language of the internet and digital technologies.

Still from “Impossible Dream” by Gerard Olivier aka Hellcom (2:48) (South Africa) (2015)

Selected Works

“Metropolitan Triangle Garden” by Rui Hu (3:54) (LA) (2015)

In this experimental 3D animation, Classical sculptures in the museum participate in a destructive performance triggered by software glitches, distortions, and misused simulation, turning the space into a madhouse theater with both classical beauty and digital chaos. It attempts to connect the sense of space, history, turmoil, and transformation to the idea of technological sublime in a twisted way, breaking the link between advanced graphics technology and high-end cinema production, and the disparity between classical art and the contemporary digital aesthetics.

“Pure Vapes” by Hannah Epstein (1:15) (Pittsburgh) (2015)

A video about videos about vaporwave.

“phonics abrogate” by Erik Zepka (5:22) (Vancouver) (2015)

Textual poetry, sound works, cgi environments from interactive pieces – elements are used then brought back together in a temporary manner, narrative is not quite decipherable. the particular form is as important as how it breaks into its parts,as fragmentation is coupled with a larger context of borrowing and reinventing.

“Rio-me porque és da aldeia e vieste de burro ao baile” by Sandra Araujo (2:52) (Portugal) (2014)

Popular sonorities and imagery combined with computer-based aesthetics. Visual elements feature iconic images, 8-bit, pixel and glitch, whereas sound is the result of sampling.

“Miami Vice – Air Deluxe” by Leonid Kalyadin (2:30) (Moscow) (2014)

Young Russian businessman Ivan is surfing in the Internet everyday to find the girl of his dreams. All, that he knows about her – that she is wearing green tights and white sneakers.

“Pixelord – Biorobots” by Leonid Kalyadin (3:48) (Moscow) (2014)

As a result of system error, Ivan’s computer becomes alive to offer him a new life – virtual life.

“La Primavera Spring Весна” by Leonid Kalyadin (9:28) (Moscow) (2014)

“PC Museum – Model Version” by Leonid Kalyadin (2:20) (Moscow) (2014)

A trip through cyberspace.

“18 Carat Affair – Lonely Eyes” by Leonid Kalyadin (3:29) (Moscow) (2015)


“Impossible Dream” by Gerard Olivier aka Hellcom (2:48) (South Africa) (2015)

Impossible Dream uses free stock footage found on the internet meant for fitness applications and re-contextualizes it into a dreamlike aesthetic. With the backdrop of an altered feel-good British Airways theme, we look at the standard stock footage in an ethereal light.

“Vertical Club” by Gerard Olivier aka Hellcom (3:08) (South Africa) (2015)

Vertical Club is a juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated digital imagery brought together to create a hypnotic flow, emulating the state of mind of a frequent internet user while online. It represents an exploration of the digital landscape. The music consists of a detuned and looped airline commercial, evoking a superficial sense of tranquility.

“Oneiria” by Jeroen Cluckers (3:52) (Belgium) (2014)

Distorted memories from an imaginative zone known as “Oneiria”. In our high-tech world, unpredictable behaviour from technology is often perceived as negative. These glitches however, a.k.a. ‘the ghost in the machine’, can be a starting point to expand the possibilities of image production in the digital age. Oneiria uses datamoshing, a technique in which digital video images are deliberately made unstable, and found footage in different formats (digital HD, VHS, Super 8, …) is literally used as paint, smearing images to create painterly, abstract, dreamlike landscapes.

“Circular Motion” by Laurence Chan (5:48) (Glasgow) (2015)

Linear rotational motion can induce a fascinating sense of hypnotism by it’s repetitive nature, demonstrated in Marcel Du Champ’s Anemic Cinema. The rotational movement in CD players and it’s skipping nature from damaged discs is a form of glitch. A loose overarching abstract narrative forms the structure of the piece inspired by surrealism with non-sequitur elements. The Apollo bust can be said to be the protagonist of the piece. The increasingly distorted, glitched VHS visuals intend to express a form of dystopian, degenerate state. Heavy use of phasers, flangers, panning create a sonic sense of circular motion. *Visual content shot on VHS tape

“Degeneration” by Laurence Chan (1:00) (Glasgow) (2015)

The piece employs VHS generation loss (multiple dubbings to the point of noise). Successive dubs causes various video glitches and are overlayed to show the transition of degradation. The subject is Justin Bieber’s mugshot. It alludes to his reportedly degenerate adolescent celebrity lifestyle. It is an experiment in recontexualising and apppropriating the methodology and aesthetics of Vaporwave to a contemporary subject as opposed to it’s well established retromanic essence. The single audio sample of his debut single ‘Baby’ is rearranged and slowly degraded to noise, furthering the theme of degeneration.


Artist Biographies

Rui Hu is an artist born in China and living in the United States. Working with 3D animation, video, and digital image, he hopes to create poetic or unsettling experiences that could channel some fleeting or buried human emotion. He is a graduate of the film program at New York University and a MFA candidate in the media arts program at University of California, Los Angeles.

Hannah Epstein (AKA hanski) is a new media, textile and video artist. She has studied philosophy at King’s College and Folklore at Memorial University. Often driven by a psychedelic and collage inspired aesthetic, she draws on her multiplexed identity to create work critical of hierarchical power structures and lends focus to the unconventional, highlighting the fringes of cultural practice. Epstein is currently an MFA candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.

Erik Zepka is a conceptual artist, researcher and writer working in the intersections of art, literature, science and philosophy. With a new media focus, the growing technologies of the internet form a hub for his interdisciplinary exploration. Through presentation, publishing, curation, distribution, and exhibition, projects manifest in forms that fail to rest consistently in any given discipline. The work is distributed throughout the social web, linking to the hubs and under different themes that overlap and contradict one another. This evolving body of work has been published, presented and exhibited internationally.

Sandra Araújo is a visual artist that spent endless hours shooting at monsters and strolling through mazes. So, it only felt natural for her to evolve through an experimental and explorative process of the visual culture of video games and popular gif files in her animations. She still plays old school computer games.

Laurence Chan is a sound designer, composer and video artist with a strong background in Sonic Arts (University of Glasgow MA Music) and music production. Recently he has expanded into audiovisual practices, interactive media and video art. His works focus on both experimental sound, noise processes, with audiovisual experimentation in the aesthetics of glitch in it’s myriad of forms.

Leonid Kalyadin was born in Vladivostok, Russia in 1989. Now living and working in Moscow. He graduated from Moscow Aviation Institute ,the department of municipal management. Currently he is a post graduate student of Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.

Jeroen Cluckers (BE) is a video artist and experimental filmmaker. He explores the audiovisual potential of video and film by researching, deconstructing and transforming the language of both media. Then, he attempts to write audiovisual poetry. This often results in dreamlike, painterly images that leave traces and balance on the edge of recognition and alienation. His work is displayed internationally at film and video art festivals, and previously shown on Belgian, Austrian and American television.

Gerard Olivier is a South African-born cross-disciplinary artist who works with sound design, music, image manipulation and video-art. He explores the familiarity and meaning of commonplace ordinary imagery and music that might normally be overlooked and lets viewers re-interpret old narratives through their re-contextualization. He holds a BA degree in psychology and is a digital music producer by day. His focus is on the collective dreamlike experience and ubiquity of the Internet. “Hellcom” is a banner the artist uses to present his online identity.