Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization from Adbusters.org


(The comments are just as good if not more interesting)

We've reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality. (Cover story of Adbusters Issue #79.)

I'm sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city's heroin district. In front of me stand a gang of hippiesh grunge-punk types, who crowd around each other and collectively scoff at the smoking laws by sneaking puffs of "fuck-you," reveling in their perceived rebellion as the haggard, staggering staff look on without the slightest concern.

The "DJ" is keystroking a selection of MP3s off his MacBook, making a mix that sounds like he took a hatchet to a collection of yesteryear billboard hits, from DMX to Dolly Parton, but mashed up with a jittery techno backbeat.

"So... this is a hipster party?" I ask the girl sitting next to me. She's wearing big dangling earrings, an American Apparel V-neck tee, non-prescription eyeglasses and an inappropriately warm wool coat.

"Yeah, just look around you, 99 percent of the people here are total hipsters!"

"Are you a hipster?"

"Fuck no," she says, laughing back the last of her glass before she hops off to the dance floor.

Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of "counter-culture" have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the "Hipster."

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the "hipster" – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.


Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you'll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh Рinitially sported by Jewish students and Western protesters to express solidarity with Palestinians, the keffiyeh has become a completely meaningless hipster clich̩ fashion accessory.

The American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning. Ten years ago, a man wearing a plain V-neck tee and drinking a Pabst would never be accused of being a trend-follower. But in 2008, such things have become shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class.

This obsession with "street-cred" reaches its apex of absurdity as hipsters have recently and wholeheartedly adopted the fixed-gear bike as the only acceptable form of transportation – only to have brakes installed on a piece of machinery that is defined by its lack thereof.

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

"These hipster zombies… are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents," wrote Christian Lorentzen in a Time Out New York article entitled ‘Why the Hipster Must Die.' "And they must be buried for cool to be reborn."

With nothing to defend, uphold or even embrace, the idea of "hipsterdom" is left wide open for attack. And yet, it is this ironic lack of authenticity that has allowed hipsterdom to grow into a global phenomenon that is set to consume the very core of Western counterculture. Most critics make a point of attacking the hipster's lack of individuality, but it is this stubborn obfuscation that distinguishes them from their predecessors, while allowing hipsterdom to easily blend in and mutate other social movements, sub-cultures and lifestyles.


Standing outside an art-party next to a neat row of locked-up fixed-gear bikes, I come across a couple girls who exemplify hipster homogeneity. I ask one of the girls if her being at an art party and wearing fake eyeglasses, leggings and a flannel shirt makes her a hipster.

"I'm not comfortable with that term," she replies.

Her friend adds, with just a flicker of menace in her eyes, "Yeah, I don't know, you shouldn't use that word, it's just…"


"No… it's just, well… if you don't know why then you just shouldn't even use it."

"Ok, so what are you girls doing tonight after this party?"

"Ummm… We're going to the after-party."


Gavin McInnes, one of the founders of Vice, who recently left the magazine, is considered to be one of hipsterdom's primary architects. But, in contrast to the majority of concerned media-types, McInnes, whose "Dos and Don'ts" commentary defined the rules of hipster fashion for over a decade, is more critical of those doing the criticizing.

"I've always found that word ["hipster"] is used with such disdain, like it's always used by chubby bloggers who aren't getting laid anymore and are bored, and they're just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable," he says. "I'm dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda."

Punks wear their tattered threads and studded leather jackets with honor, priding themselves on their innovative and cheap methods of self-expression and rebellion. B-boys and b-girls announce themselves to anyone within earshot with baggy gear and boomboxes. But it is rare, if not impossible, to find an individual who will proclaim themself a proud hipster. It's an odd dance of self-identity – adamantly denying your existence while wearing clearly defined symbols that proclaims it.


"He's 17 and he lives for the scene!" a girl whispers in my ear as I sneak a photo of a young kid dancing up against a wall in a dimly lit corner of the after-party. He's got a flipped-out, do-it-yourself haircut, skin-tight jeans, leather jacket, a vintage punk tee and some popping high tops.

"Shoot me," he demands, walking up, cigarette in mouth, striking a pose and exhaling. He hits a few different angles with a firmly unimpressed expression and then gets a bit giddy when I show him the results.

"Rad, thanks," he says, re-focusing on the music and submerging himself back into the sweaty funk of the crowd where he resumes a jittery head bobble with a little bit of a twitch.

The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks. While punk, disco and hip hop all had immersive, intimate and energetic dance styles that liberated the dancer from his/her mental states – be it the head-spinning b-boy or violent thrashings of a live punk show – the hipster has more of a joke dance. A faux shrug shuffle that mocks the very idea of dancing or, at its best, illustrates a non-committal fear of expression typified in a weird twitch/ironic twist. The dancers are too self-aware to let themselves feel any form of liberation; they shuffle along, shrugging themselves into oblivion.


Perhaps the true motivation behind this deliberate nonchalance is an attempt to attract the attention of the ever-present party photographers, who swim through the crowd like neon sharks, flashing little blasts of phosphorescent ecstasy whenever they spot someone worth momentarily immortalizing.

Noticing a few flickers of light splash out from the club bathroom, I peep in only to find one such photographer taking part in an impromptu soft-core porno shoot. Two girls and a guy are taking off their clothes and striking poses for a set of grimy glamour shots. It's all grins and smirks until another girl pokes her head inside and screeches, "You're not some club kid in New York in the nineties. This shit is so hipster!" – which sparks a bit of a catfight, causing me to beat a hasty retreat.

In many ways, the lifestyle promoted by hipsterdom is highly ritualized. Many of the party-goers who are subject to the photoblogger's snapshots no doubt crawl out of bed the next afternoon and immediately re-experience the previous night's debauchery. Red-eyed and bleary, they sit hunched over their laptops, wading through a sea of similarity to find their own (momentarily) thrilling instant of perfected hipster-ness.

What they may or may not know is that "cool-hunters" will also be skulking the same sites, taking note of how they dress and what they consume. These marketers and party-promoters get paid to co-opt youth culture and then re-sell it back at a profit. In the end, hipsters are sold what they think they invent and are spoon-fed their pre-packaged cultural livelihood.

Hipsterdom is the first "counterculture" to be born under the advertising industry's microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.

An amalgamation of its own history, the youth of the West are left with consuming cool rather that creating it. The cultural zeitgeists of the past have always been sparked by furious indignation and are reactionary movements. But the hipster's self-involved and isolated maintenance does nothing to feed cultural evolution. Western civilization's well has run dry. The only way to avoid hitting the colossus of societal failure that looms over the horizon is for the kids to abandon this vain existence and start over.


"If you don't give a damn, we don't give a fuck!" chants an emcee before his incitements are abruptly cut short when the power plug is pulled and the lights snapped on.

Dawn breaks and the last of the after-after-parties begin to spill into the streets. The hipsters are falling out, rubbing their eyes and scanning the surrounding landscape for the way back from which they came. Some hop on their fixed-gear bikes, some call for cabs, while a few of us hop a fence and cut through the industrial wasteland of a nearby condo development.

The half-built condos tower above us like foreboding monoliths of our yuppie futures. I take a look at one of the girls wearing a bright pink keffiyah and carrying a Polaroid camera and think, "If only we carried rocks instead of cameras, we'd look like revolutionaries." But instead we ignore the weapons that lie at our feet – oblivious to our own impending demise.

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.


Found GIF

Babs Noir Lustre Noir GIF
Do not know who made this from my photo but GIF'S are neat.



More Nest Dancing!

Thanks Kristin and Teryn!


Nest Dancing

Kristin's dancer Teryn danced the other day for a while in the nest. Kristin asked for opinions and worked with Teryn. Chris took pictures and Danny and I watched and threw random ideas at Kristin. More to come....!


For Danny

Extraordinary Gestures

Extraordinary Gestures

- Noah Simblist -

In July 2007, The Miss Rockaway Armada, a floating art parade buoyed by a handmade barge, set sail down the Mississippi River. This exercise in performative sculpture is a collaboration between multiple artist collectives including the Floating Neutrinos (who assail industrialization in favor of the auratic qualities of craft), Infernal Noise Brigade (Seattle-based arbiters of aural disruption) and Visual Resistance (a coalition of graffiti artists. Miss Rockaway describes itself as made up of individuals who left small towns behind for life in the big city but, in an era in which war and consumption are linked by oil, have decided to return to the heartland, reconnect with their roots and act as a bridge between urban and small-town mentalities.

The boat, built entirely from salvaged materials, is a simple structure powered by two converted diesel engines and a salvaged alternator. In many ways, the activities that surround navigating this craft down the river combine a kind of hippie art party with a rethinking of the elements of everyday life, including sustenance (dumpster diving), fuel (biodiesel), bathing (rarely), laundry (washed in the river and dried in the fields) and the maintenance of a vessel that is barely watertight. The group docks periodically and stages performances for locals: bawdy, carnivalesque freak shows with a touch of drag.

Read more: Link: http://www.artlies.org/article.php?id=1545&issue=56&s=1


This is what I keep saying...

Your Artist Statement: Explaining the Unexplainable
Q: Why do I have to write an artist statement? It's stupid. If I wanted to write to express myself I would have been a writer. The whole idea of my art is to say things visually. Why can't people just look at my art and take away whatever experiences they will?
A: Artist statements are not stupid; they're more like essential. And you don't have to be a writer to write one. And people already look at your art and take away whatever experiences they will. Your artist statement is about facts, a basic introduction to your art; it's not instructions on what to experience, what to think, how to feel, how to act, or where to stand, and if it is, you'd better do a rewrite.
On this planet, people communicate through language, and your artist statement introduces and communicates the language component of your art. People who come into contact with your art and want to know more will have questions. When you're there, they ask you and you answer. When you're not there, your artist statement answers for you. Or when you're there, but you don't like to answer questions, or you're too busy to answer questions, or someone's too embarrassed to ask you questions, then your pal, your artist statement, does the job. So let's get busy and write the damn thing.
Just about all artists want as many people as possible to appreciate their art. A good artist statement works towards this end, and the most important ingredient of a good statement is its language. WRITE YOUR STATEMENT IN LANGUAGE THAT ANYONE CAN UNDERSTAND, not language that you understand, not language that you and your friends understand, not language that you learn in art school, but everyday language that you use with everyday people to accomplish everyday things. An effective statement reaches out and welcomes people to your art, no matter how little or how much they know about art to begin with; it never excludes. Rest assured that those who read your statement and still want to know more will christen you with ample opportunities to get technical, metaphysical, philosophical, personal, emotional, moralistic, socially relevant, historical, environmentally responsible, political, autobiographical, anecdotal, or twisty with jargon-- LATER, NOT NOW.
Like an introduction to a book, your statement presents the fundamental underpinnings of your art; write it for people who are about to read "your book," not those who've already read it. In three to five paragraphs of three to five sentences each, provide basic information like WHY YOU MAKE YOUR ART, HOW YOU MAKE IT, WHAT IT'S MADE OUT OF, and perhaps briefly, WHAT YOUR ART MEANS TO YOU. Don't bog readers down, but rather entice them to want to know more. As with any good first impression, your statement should hook and invite further inquiry, like a really good story is about to be told. Give too little, not too much.
People have short attention spans. When you front-load the details, you risk drowning readers in minutia, readers who might otherwise persevere if you keep it simple. Address and answer commonly asked questions about your art. Save the complicated stuff for those who progress to the next level. Don't worry about pleasing your fans; you won't bore them and you won't lose them. They have ways to get their questions answered. Remember: Your statement is about broadening your audience, not keeping it static. You'll have plenty of time to give the grand tour-- LATER, NOT NOW.
Your statement is about you, so personalize it. Infuse it with your unique perspective. Whenever possible, make it conversational, like you're talking to readers (Note: A good editor can work wonders here). The more complex, theoretical, intangible, or impersonal your statement, the more trouble people have trying to get through it and connecting with your art on meaningful levels. Few readers want to burn energy trying to decipher abstractions; they burn energy all day long. For now, they just want to see your art, take it easy, and enjoy themselves.
Additional considerations:
* Artists are artists, not writers, so think seriously about hiring a professional writer or editor, preferably one with an art background, to help you convey what you want your statement to convey in language that people can understand.
* Make "I" statements, rather than "you" statements. Talk about what your art does for you, not what it's supposed to do for the readers. This doesn't mean that you start every sentence with "I," but rather that you respect people's autonomy and allow them to respond to your art as they wish.
* At all times, give readers the option to agree or disagree with you. Never pressure them or dictate outcomes.
* Avoid comparative or evaluative comments that have been made about your art by third parties such as gallery owners, critics, collectors, or curators. These belong in your curriculum vitae. In your statement, they're name-dropping; in your curriculum vitae, they're testimonials.
* Connect what your art expresses with the medium that you're expressing it in. For example, if your art is about world peace, and it consists of twigs protruding from pieces of clay, explain the connection. Arbitrarily stating that twig/clay protrusions represent world peace leaves people wondering. If, of course, the object of your art or your statement is to leave people wondering, then that's O.K. In art, everything is O.K., but in order to succeed as an artist, someone beside yourself generally has to get the point of what you're doing.
* Be specific, not vague. For example, if your art is "inspired by assessments of the fundamentals of the natural world," tell which fundamentals you're assessing and how they inspire you.
* Avoid obscure references to music, art, literature, history, or anything else that requires detailed explanation. If you have to make such a reference, explain it fast so that people know what you're talking about. If you can't do it fast, do it later.
* Tell the story about what led up to your art ONLY if it's short, compelling, and really really relevant. People are generally not interested in progressions of antecedent events. Something leads up to everything; we all know that.
* Avoid comparing yourself to other artists. If other artists influence you, fine, but don't say, "Like Picasso, I do this" or "Like Judd, I do that." Instead, say something like "Picasso's Blue and Rose paintings influence how I use yellow." Better yet, leave other artists out of your statement altogether. Let the critics decide who you're like.
* Don't instruct people on how to see, feel, behave, respond, or otherwise relate to your art. Nobody likes being told what to do. Instead of saying "You will experience angst when you see my art," say "This art expresses my angst" or "I express my angst through my art." Or go see a therapist and get rid of your angst.
Before you go public with your statement, get feedback. Show your art and statement to friends, friends' friends, and maybe even a stranger or two. Make sure they understand what you want them to understand. When they don't, or you have to explain yourself, do a rewrite and eliminate the confusion. If you need help, find someone who writes or edits and have them fix the problem. Many times, a little rearranging is all that's necessary to make your statement a clean clear read.
No matter how good your statement is, know up front that most people will read it and move on; only a few will want to know more, and fewer yet will ultimately progress to the point where they buy your art. That's simply the nature of art and personal taste. Having said that, never underestimate the power of an effective statement to intensify and enhance the experience of your art.