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Aesthetic is defined as "a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement." While the nature of aesthetics have been around as long as art has, there are some specific forms of "aesthetic" that are unique to the internet and its communities. Perhaps the most prolific use of "aesthetic" online is in the Tumblr community, and then in the music community after that. If one were to begin searching on Google with "List of Aesthetics," Google's second most popular result is "List of Aesthetics Tumblr."
Aesthetics can be both visual or music based, with overlap. Niche genres of music, which are more often than not related to some sort of aesthetic, are called "microgenres."
Tumblr is a large producer of aesthetics online. For example, the Aesthetics Wiki credits Tumblr as being the birth place of the aesthetics "Pastel Goth," and "Trendercore.". The use of popular Tumblr aesthetics often leaks into other websites like Toyhouse, where one is able to heavily customize character profiles.
Many modern aesthetics, especially ones birthed on Tumblr, follow a few naming conventions. They will have the suffix: -core, -punk, or -wave. However, not every aesthetic follows this convention. Other lesser used suffixes are -goth and -kei.
It can be difficult to trace the origins of aesthetics online, especially if they originated on Tumblr where it is hard to archive due to the nature of the website.
Aesthetics serve a number of functions on Tumblr. This includes moodboards, Tumblr themes, and the creation of visual art in general, like in digital college or photo manipulations. Original Species also make use of aesthetics as a means of creating adoptables.
Images in Tumblr's aesthetic tag are frequently stolen without credit then re-uploaded into the tag. Thus, it is often impossible to know whether or not photography in any aesthetic's tag is original or stolen, unless stated. However, those who make moodboards tend to credit the original artists.
The most well known modern online aesthetics that originates from music are perhaps vaporwave and Lo-Fi. Vaporwave does not only involve a specific type of music, but it comes with a visual guideline as well. Vaporwave music involves heavily slowing down music, while vaporwave visuals combine dated computer imagery, the colors purple/pink, and Japanese kanji (or other language outside of English). These aren't the only visual aspects of this music-based aesthetic, but they are still calling cards.
A similar music-based aesthetic/microgenre that also has a visual aspect is called seapunk. Seapunk is a visual aesthetic that later developed a music aesthetic, and is credited as being born on Tumblr and Twitter in 2011.
- Tumblr user Izzybee deciding which aesthetic they prefer
- The Teen Girl Tumblr Aesthetic
- What is Aesthetic and Why are the Annoying Tumblr Type of Teenagers Obsessed with Them
- What are Some Good Online Shops for Tumblr Aesthetic
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microgenre (Accessed 1/14/2020)
- https://aesthetics.fandom.com/wiki/Pastel_Goth Feb 5, 2019 (Accessed 1/13/2020)
- https://aesthetics.fandom.com/wiki/Trendercore Jun 21, 2019 (Accessd 1/13/2020)
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporwave (Accessed 1/14/2020)
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seapunk (Accessed 1/14/2020)