Subculture – Seapunk 22.12.16

Seapunk is a subculture which originally started on the website, Tumblr, in 2011. It often links to an aquatic themed style of fashion and allusions to popular culture of the 1990’s. It also includes a style of music called electronic music, including elements of Southern Hip Hop, pop music and R&B. A Chicago Reader writer once described the music as “a style of music that incorporates bits of 90s house, the past 15 years or so of pop and R&B and the latest in southern trap rap—all overlaid with a twinkly, narcotic energy that recalls new-age music and chopped and screwed hip hop mix tapes in roughly equal measure.” The music includes a variety of different styles, and sometimes even remix songs from people such as Beyonce and Aaliyah. The music that the sea punks listen to is very similar to a style called Vaporwave. It uses a style of electronic music which originated just after seapunk. The style of music quickly spread over the internet in the early 2010’s, on websites such as twitter and tumblr. The music often features smooth jazz and elevator music, mixed between electronic sounds.

The style of Seapunk grew large very quickly over the internet. It started as a trend and internet meme on Tumblr. The name originally started when DJ, Lil Internet, humorously wrote in a tweet on twitter saying “Seapunk leather jacket with barnacles where the studs used to be”. Articles were found about seapunk in 2011, and Cluster Mag quoted Pictureplane (an american electronic musician), who described seapunk as “mostly internet-based phenomenon birthed out of the tumblr and twitter universes as a means to describe a lifestyle aesthetic that is all things oceanic and of the sea”.

Images across the internet started featuring neon flashing colours and rotating geometric symbols floating above oceans of bright water. Many were found with the tag #seapunk on twitter and tumblr. The digital imagery used within seapunk draws largely from 1990’s 3D net art. Many artists have used this style within their own work, including rapper Azealia Banks and singer Rihanna.

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In 2016, a group of seapunk environmentalists protested against BP’s sponsorships of sunken cities exhibition at the British Museum. They called themselves a “Splash Mob” to link with the idea of the ocean. They also dressed up as mermaids and pirates in metallic blue and green clothing.

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