Category Archives: semiotics

The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year Goes Goblin Mode

“Goblin mode” — a slang term referring to “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations” — has been named Oxford’s 2022 Word of the Year.

Our Homes reveal the story of culture…. Do You Really Want a New Kitchen Counter?

A home plays two essential roles for many people: It’s the place you live your day-to-day life, and it’s the single most important asset you’ll ever have. Housing has served these dual purposes for much of the country’s history, but over the past 50 years in particular, as rising home values have far outpaced wage growth, Americans have begun to stake their financial future even more heavily on their home. If you’re one of the nearly two-thirds of adults in this country who own a home, it’s pretty likely that its potential sale price is a major factor in your long-term financial stability, even if you don’t plan to sell anytime soon.

Our homes reveal the story of culture…

Brutalist beauty

Grotesque art is a slippery category that can be traced back to ancient Roman paintings, which first merged the human form with animals. Throughout history, grotesquery has embodied the anti-beauty aesthetic that pushes conventional boundaries and showcases the allure of extreme transformations. More recently, drag artists have been pioneers of what’s become grotesque content online — it’s partly why The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula show is so popular — and, while it’s not being painted across elaborate ceilings today, the movement still lingers through pimple-popping videos and extreme beauty tutorials

Deep-fried memes: what are they and why do they matter?

By deep-frying a meme, you essentially replicate the damage to an image as a result of repeatedly sharing, resharing and screenshotting through social media’s compression algorithm. “It implies that, whatever the incomprehensible content may be, it somehow resonated with enough people to get to you in this godforsaken state,” says London-based producer Voidboi, who regularly posts deep-fried memes on their Instagram. The content of the meme is almost irrelevant; its formless quality moves beyond representation into a state of pure sensation: the crispier the meme, the more cursed and frightening it feels.

How far-right views became the new edgy aesthetic

What makes a group of twentysomething creatives and socialites want to engage in business with the world’s most shadowy far-right figures is a tricky case to unpack. New York’s downtown is at the epicentre of the so-called ‘internet scene’, which emerged out of the pandemic and spilt out across an endless stream of Adderall-fuelled and schizoid content: Substacks, podcasts and anonymous Instagram accounts. This also prompted an influx of nu-right podcasts, which are long, self-referential and intentionally opaque, stretched across hours of worm-brained audio and rambling text blocks that are nearly impossible to distil into any meaningful chunks of information. They are often led by the sort of terminally online scenesters who listen to Red Scare and wear Praying t-shirts with mimetic slogans like ‘God’s favourite’ or ‘Flop Era’. A similar strain of ironic humour can be spotted across Urbit. An Instagram account, shirts_of_assembly, documents the patrons’ fashion, which includes “I MET MY WIFE AT URBIT ASSEMBLY” and “URBIT MAXIMALIST”.

AI art looks way too European

For an AI model (also known as an algorithm), the past is the data set it has been trained on. For an AI art model, that data set is art. And much of the fine art world is dominated by white, Western artists. This leads to AI-generated images that look overwhelmingly Western. This is, frankly, a little disappointing: AI-generated art, in theory, could be an incredibly useful tool for imagining a more equitable vision of art that looks very different from what we have come to take for granted. Instead, it stands to simply perpetuate the colonial ideas that drive our understanding of art today.

How did these throwback wraparound sunnies come to be favored by athletes, Proud Boys and Balenciaga baddies, all at the same time?

“The wraparounds are emblems of celebification — they hide and protect,” says Shanu Walpita, trend forecaster and course leader at London College of Fashion. “This layer of celebrity concealment and curiosity is played up even more with the Balenciaga designer’s famous friends donning the alien-esque shades.”

The hidden meanings behind fashion’s most dramatic colour

Through history, wearing black has signified power, rebellion, death, sex and more. Deborah Nicholls-Lee explores the inky depths of fashion’s most timeless colour – and how Cristóbal Balenciaga made it iconic.

The colour is also a symbol of subversion. Subcultures such as rockers, punks and goths donned black to rebel against social conventions, playing their “youthful vivacity”, says Harvey, against sombre and sinister clothing choices. But popular culture also sees black associated with protest. When A-listers showed their support for the anti-sexual harassment movement Time’s Up at the Golden Globes in 2018, it was black they elected to wear.

Balenciaga’s next must-have bag? An empty packet of Lays

A couple of months ago, we questioned whether Balenciaga’s next It bag would actually just be… a grab bag of crisps, having spotted Demna sat front row at a graduate fashion show in Antwerp with a packet of Lays perched on his lap or otherwise hooked under his arm as if it were a gorgeous pochette. Cut to the designer’s SS23 show – which took place this morning – and the greasy accessoire was reimagined as a lime-flavoured, calfskin clutch. In Demna’s mind, just about anything can be read as fashion, with the ugliest and most normal of items often engendering the most desire.