The aesthetics of the self: The meaning-making of Internet aesthetics

Guilherme Giolo*, Michael Berghman

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this study we explore the so-called Internet aesthetics, labels applied on heterogenous collections of materials and activities, which are discussed and constructed primarily on the Internet (mainly on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest). In contrast to established notions, such as genre, style or subculture, Internet aesthetics are characterized by few conventions, but seem fundamentally open for individual interpretations. We conducted inductive qualitative content analyses on text and images of 24 entries of AestheticsWiki, finding that Internet aesthetics display little consistency in their composition and avoid drawing clear-cut defining lines. Rather, they are characterized by presenting an experience of sorts, a subjectively defined atmosphere. We then conducted phenomenological interviews with 11 Internet aesthetics enthusiasts. We observe that Internet aesthetics primarily serve as toolkits, through which individuals give sense and coherence to personal experience, in line with a situation-specific self-image.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFirst Monday
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023

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