Visual trends: #1 Digital Decay
– And let’s use this style… You know which one, the one that looks like an old display
– You mean a vintage filter?
– No, more like a broken old phone with glitches and stuff
Knowing the visual trends is one thing, but describing them and making sure everyone knows what you mean is another. Trends come and go, and get recycled and come back again, a bit different, yet the same. That’s why we are starting a new series on our blog on visual trends. From time to time we’ll write about trends, name them and give you their cultural context. Ready? Buckle up, we are going fo a ride!
The dark side of technology…
For years technology was associated with smooth shapes, lab interiors, elegant, discreet and minimalistic power that satisfies our every whim, before we even think about them (Think: all things Apple and the illustration below). It was also synonymous with a huge, complex interconnected system that wires us with the world, but separates from everything that’s biological: flesh, death and decay.
In the past years concerns were raised about the AI and its power. It was the late Stephen Hawking, who said that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” and dystopian TV series, like Black Mirror only fuelled the criticism of the power of technology.
And this is when the Gen-Z, whose defining feature is “growing up with technology” enters the limelight. Gen Z is not impressed with tech anymore – do you like those round shapes and smooth surface of technological aestetics? Ok boomer, youngsters are aware that they are peering in the uncertain future and they know that technology is one of the culprits rather than an answer to the world of climate disaster, viruses and crises.
That’s why the esthetics of glitches and malfunctions appeals to them much more. It’s more real and there is a beauty in its imperfections. Besides, it stands out in the world of visual perfection. The popularity of Instagram Stories filters that allow glitches and even Python libraties made for glitchification speaks volumes. Yet another defining feature of Gen-Z is their love to everything that’s quirky and weird, and this aesthetics fits it very well.
…and digital nostalgia.
There is another side to the popularity of the Digital Decay. It looks very much like the nineties – the childhood of Millenials: the first video games, CRT TVs, first mobiles, very far away from the Retina display, full HD and the smoothed tech aestethics that they are being spoon-fed with the official corporational materials.
Of course, visual trends are not separate phenomena, they are interweaving with each other, and the digital decay as a lot to do with the comeback of chokers and chunky trainers.
Nineties, Gen-Z, technology, dystopia, cyberpunk