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Alexis Stephens

Alexis Stephens is a blogger (ongakuclub.wordpress.com), contributor to Cluster Mag, and her work has appeared in NYRemezcla.com.

 

Abstract:

"New Jack City: Frenzied Cultures, Transitory Spaces (or, how I learned to stop worrying and embrace the hype cycle)"

The media madness surrounding magazine cover story acts Odd Future and Kreayshawn in Spring and Summer of 2010 were thrilling in their urgency. They were big news only months ago, and now blogging and tumbling “tastemakers” consider the contentious artists to be tired. At the same time, new movements and subcultures are taking advantage of internet-fueled transience and twitter-speed identity shifts. The infamous the Ghe20 G0th1k warehouse party, a 'queer-new-media-art-rave' catalyzed by an exciting, yet difficult-to-market set of sounds and aesthetics, found rapid devotion this summer in Brooklyn, but could soon face obsolescence after another season-long internet hype cycle.

What does this rapid reshuffling of cultures, scenes, and stars mean for the future of music? Media scholar Nikos Papastergiadis proposes that in our highly-networked, globalized future, loosely-bound volatile structures called "clusters" will reign. Papastergiadis argues that people are increasingly forming identifiable but unstable groups unburdened by stifling borders establishing distinct insider/outsider status. These groups are strategically unified but ready to disband when threatened by the presence of strict codes with the knowledge that free and open spaces don't last forever. Is clustering a symptom of the hype cycle that brought Kreayshawn from nobody to Top 40 and back again in less than six months? Does this shorter lifespan mean a less meaningful engagement with music, or is it simply a new social paradigm we have to get used to? In this brave new world, in which subcultures rise and fall as soon "outsiders" attempt to define and impose decay on them, perhaps the strongest movements are the most spectral.