June 11, 2016
Grafton Tanner discusses his book Babbling Corpse – Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts. This is a two part interview. Part two is here
The age of global capitalism promised all things to everyone; a world of techno-utopian fantasies embellished by endless entertainment, copious consumerism, and instant communication. As the 20th Century finally gave way to the 21st, corporate central control offered a vision of a future free from war, fear, and limitation. In societies increasingly devoid of meaning and purpose, we bought into the promise of this digital dreamland with religious zeal. The future, however, is turning out to be far from that envisioned in the ivory towers of industry imagineers. The events of 9/11 and subsequent years of the so-called ‘war on terror’, and the seismic shock of the 2008 financial crash and it’s fatal fallout have left America, the West in general, and many other regions of the world reeling with no end in sight and with the milk and honey promises of the past in tatters.
Taking Vaporwave – a nascent musical micro-genre – as our starting point, we explore its parodies of popular culture, the changing face of a music business in meltdown, global capitalism’s effect on art, the insidious side-effects of the electronic media which pervade our lives, the death of the old and emergence of new meaning in society, the burgeoning nostalgia industry, and our post-millennial obsession with a past which now resembles nothing less than a vanished golden age.