We Can’t Stop — A Video Essay

What is incongruity? How does it shape the world around us, both online and IRL? The following video is a short introduction to the ideas inside ‘Incongruity Lolz’, a new work by Elizabeth Holdsworth published for the MA Critical Writing in Art and Design degree show at the Royal College of Art, June 2015.

About ‘Incongruity Lolz — Investigating an aesthetic of absurdity, affect and identity construction in post-digital visual culture’

Is there any meaning behind Miley Cyrus’ Instagram account? Why are there images of pizza slices on everything? What was Shia Labeouf doing with a paper bag on his head at the 64th International Film Festival? The answers to these questions lie in Incongruity Lolz, an aesthetic in current visual culture of absurdity and seemingly incomprehensible juxtaposition which stems directly from the evolution of the internet. Exploring the history of incongruity, collage, net art, the philosophical and cultural question of humour and the structure of memes, the following essay presents the concept of oscillation — a constant swing between irony and sincerity — as a condition of our times, in the wake of postmodern cynical self-awareness and the infinite, instantaneous and constant flow of information across the network. The result is a method of analysing images which calls into question previous notions of collage and juxtaposition, identity and gender, demonstrating art’s role in forecasting trends and Late Capitalism’s obsession with adolescence, and ultimately hinting at a growing concept of art as magic.

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