Virtual Plaza - Vaporwave as Workshop


Vaporwave is a genre of electronic music and an Internet meme that emerged in 2010 (and continues today). The music typically features an appropriation (sampling) and mixing of 1980s and 1990s mood music (MUZAK, smooth jazz, elevator music, R&B, and lounge music).The subculture surrounding vaporwave is often associated with an ambiguous or satirical take on consumer capitalism and popular culture, and tends to be characterized by a nostalgic or surrealist engagement with the popular entertainment, technology and advertising of previous decades. It also incorporates early Internet imagery, late 1990s web design, glitch art, and cyberpunk tropes in its cover artwork and music videos.

Is it possible to identify the formal and theoretical characteristics of VW and translate those principles into a system to generate graphic design.


Critically examine and catalogue the principles of a contemporary subculture (VW). Create a workshop using these principles as a model for teaching and examining contemporary ways of cultural production. Contemporary subculture as culture compass.


This lecture and workshop uses Vaporwave as framework in which to discuss contemporary techniques of cultural production: pastiche, appropriation, remixed cultural artifacts, nostalgia, context collapse and post-authored content.

This workshop is NOT about Vaporwave per se, but about encouraging discourse and exploration around (seemingly) new modes of cultural creation (especially design that is phenomenological and participatory). Website as workshop that uses the “digi-modern” principles of Vaporwave to teach about contemporary modes of cultural production. Poster series examining the tropes of the genre.


Vaporwave has many of the same characteristic of postmodern art, but differs in its phenomenological nature (experiencing the “vibe” of the thing, rather than what is or made up of).

VW favours experience over valued content, hierarchies, communication, meaning, or formal innovation.  Experience > Meaning

VW was created by generation that grew up on post-modernism, and therefore based a different value system to the one in which most GD institutions are currently teaching (modernism).

What can a critical analysis of Vaporwave teach graphic designers?

What can it reveal about the future graphic design (aesthetics, practice, pedagogy, criticality)?

If Vaporwave exists in opposition to more traditional and practical occurrences in graphic design practice, do we need to reconsider of the current modes of (post) modernist based educational models?

Website and Workshop
About Me       Contact        Process       1 Hour Poster      CV        ︎