Burned Out Myths and Vapour Trails: Vaporwave’s Affective Potentials

Padraic Killeen 1
  • 1 Trinity College Dublin,, Dublin, Ireland


As a “born digital” audiovisual music genre and visual aesthetic, vaporwave channels remnants of popular culture, advertising, and consumer technology from the 1980s and early 1990s. retrieving the strange sense of affective potential that still echoes within the outmoded, depleted myths of that era. In doing so, it opens up a unique vantage-point on our present moment, and our contemporary attachments to digital media and a still unrelenting consumer culture. Just as Walter Benjamin believed “revolutionary energies” to resound in the outmoded objects of nineteenth century culture, vaporwave invites us to recognise the affective potentials still incipient in the sounds and images of the recent past and, in doing so, to acknowledge the affective potential available in our own cultural moment.

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Journal + Issues

Open Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal exploring the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts. It interprets culture in an inclusive sense and promotes new research perspectives in cultural studies. The journal aims to enhance international collaboration among scholars from the Global North and the Global South and help early-career researchers. It is also committed to increasing public access to scholarship on cultural studies.