October 2015
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Exploring Cool 3D World, a Vine account that’s terrifying and wonderful at once


An account called Cool 3D World appeared on Vine 18 days ago with ths introductory video:
Since then the account has posted 8 other vines, all with a similar mix of franticness, glee, and body horror.
The account is the work of brianbrianbrian (aka Brian Tessler) and popcorn10 (Jon Baken), enigmatic viners/artists/musicians/who knows whats. Asked for more information about themselves over email, they told me they both “originally come from musical backgrounds” and “were drawn to the idea of creating a fully immersive world with music, sound, and visuals”.
The two described Cool 3D World as “a collaboration space for artists and musicians” that they put together because they “wanted to create a fun space for animated 3D content as well as original music and sound design.” Tessler and Baken say they’ve “already done a few animations with [designer and developer] George Brower and [are] also working on web stuff with Neil Cline.”
You can definitely see the similarities to the work each of them creates on their own. Here’s a vine popcorn10 recently posted:
And here’s a video from brianbrianbrian’s Instagram:

All the videos apparently take place in the same world, according to the viners: “the Cool 3D World.” They also advised to “stay tuned for music videos, shorts, games, and lots more content.”
For now, we can definitely see some emerging themes, like incredibly muscular men:
And birds:
At least one also seems to inspired by the (spooky) season we’re in right now, too:
I asked brianbrianbrain and popcorn10 for their favorite piece so far. Turns out it’s this one, called Rex Runs, because “[i]t keeps the viewer immersed and doesn’t quite give away what’s about to show up” :

"Goth" Appropriation and the Demise of Subcultures

by Andi Harriman
An image of a stunning girl with Cleopatra eye makeup, defined cheekbones, pale skin, and black crimped-and-teased hair shows up on your Tumblr feed. You can guess that it’s an image from the past, as the colors are faded and there is a bend in the corner, which leads you to conclude that the original is a physical picture scanned and uploaded to the Internet. It has over 500 likes and reposts with no information of its origins—no year, no names given as credit or to the model. Discovering even who posted the picture on Tumblr is difficult to find after a certain number of reposts; the image becomes further removed from its source. The image itself decays, too, each successive copy becoming a more distorted version of the original photograph. Soon its lines are blurred and faded, merely a ghost imprint of the original. This is the way I think of the 1980s goth subculture. The 1980s goths, even though they molded and set the foundation for subsequent goths, have unwittingly become fodder for the Tumblr generation.

Photo by Sean Chapman, early 1980s.
If the aim of a given subculture is to present an alternative to mainstream culture, how can it survive if its aesthetics are cannibalized and displayed on every fashion website and photo gallery? Subcultures once thrived on the pursuit of shock value and on the ideology of “confrontational dressing,” as first described in the 1970s by the queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood. To confront or offend the public through visuals alone—which was often done by dress, accessories, the usage of symbols—distinguished a member of the subculture from the rest of the world. But over-exposure leads desensitization, and “shock value” loses its luster.
Of course, it’s possible to argue that the Internet has helped make subculture more ubiquitous in the Western World, introducing people to a community of like-minded individuals and helping them connect with those who have similar interests. Still, since the internet started making information and imagery more readily accessible in the mid-1990s, it’s also led individual subcultures to blur together somewhat. There has been shift in the past twenty years from group commitment to the focus of the individual—mainly because the computer is an individualistic device, confined within one’s own private space. Danny Fury, a UK-based original goth told me, “The kids these days, it’s not the same. They all just stay home with their [computers] nowadays. No scene, no movements… they don’t have much interest apart from wanna-be famous. But for what? They don’t seem to know or care… just be famous.”
The change from group to individual, I argue, is why the ideology of subculture is dead. During the latter part of the 20th century, there was no doubt as to how to differentiate between a goth or punk from the so-called “normals.” Dedication to an individual subculture was shown by its members through dress; in turn, the visual elements of the subculture—be it hairstyle, makeup, clothes, or accessories—became integral parts of the movement’s formation.  Wearing black (which was the case most, but not all, of the time) in Western culture symbolized mourning—goths were grieving over the dissatisfaction of everyday life.  They were not afraid of death and emblazoned the iconography of death in their fashions and often assembled in cemeteries.  Wearing black symbolized much than mourning attire: it represented the desire to stand out amongst the mainstream, to challenge societal norms which can be found in the makeup clad, dress wearing feminine men and uber feminine women of the subculture.  The other vital element was the music. Punk was simplistic, loud, and straight to the point; goth was atmospheric, moody and somber. These adjectives used to describe the music matched the visual aesthetics of the subculture as well. 
I have interviewed a large number of old-school “traditional” goths from around the world since I have begun this area of study for my book Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace. And it was echoed from scenes as far as Russia and Argentina that there are two things that a subculture depends on for survival: commitment and music. Subcultural identification, at its strongest, can be an all-consuming, twenty-four hours a day job. Sean Chapman, an early iteration goth, active from 1980, describes the importance of commitment: as a teenager he never left his squat without full makeup on. It was as natural as brushing his teeth. “I would spend anything up to two and a half hours putting on my makeup and doing my hair,” he told me. “I always made sure that I never looked the same twice.” Goth’s poster boy Robert Smith of The Cure echoes this sentiment in his 1984 song “Dressing Up,” summing up more than the goth subculture’s ethos, but every subculture’s ethos: I’m dressing up to dance all week/ I’m dressing up to sleep.
* * *
In the 1970s, punk became synonymous with a do-it-yourself philosophy; the goth look embraced that ethos, combined it with dimensions of Ziggy Stardust’s alien-like presence, and cloaked it in darkness. Even though the term “goth” did not exist in the early 1980s, the basic visual outline of goth was born, for both sexes: black clothes, white face, and dark makeup. According to those I spoke to, members derived social stature from their commitment to the subculture; goths with the most knowledge of the movement’s foundations and had the most unique visual looks were revered in the group. Without the World Wide Web, inspirational sources for goth fashion came from bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees and Bauhaus. The DIY aspect was important to goth fashion, as  it was more difficult to purchase ready-made goth items at the time, especially outside of large cities. Therefore, a goth had to rip, dye, sew, and stud clothing in order to capture the basic goth look a lá Siouxsie or Robert Smith,  just as the punks had done with the Sex Pistols.
Fast forward to today, and this used and abused “look”—refurbished band t-shirts, distressed, ripped and patched cutoffs—is back in vogue, inspiration for manifold high end and fast fashion retailers. The look is simulated to be real but is, in fact, a fantasy—one that has replaced the original dream of crafting a completely original outfit from scraps, thrift store throwaways, or even old curtains. In 2013, Urban Outfitters released a line of “one of a kind” vintage men’s leather jackets with hand-painted logos of widely popular bands such as The Clash, Crass, GBH, and the Sex Pistols for $375. Sadly, these “DIY” jackets convey the opposite of the punk anarchist ethos in that one can view, click, pay, and receive them in a matter of days.  Sadly, it is impossible to retain sentimental value in the purchase of a vintage jacket obtained and then decorated by a popular retail chain.
Culture is now created by virtual reality—a set of clicks, downloads, and instantaneous rewards. It’s the detachment from real life engagement with others in this pseudo-modern world that destroys subcultures. Alan Kirby, in his article “The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond,” from Philosophy Now, coined the term pseudo-modernism.  The term is described as “ the tension between the sophistication of the technological means, and the vapidity or ignorance of the content conveyed by it.” Those of us who were born after 1980 are most likely victims of such a historical development, all-engulfed in computers and a fantastical world that allows us to be despondent to any sort of commitment—subcultural or otherwise. A quick scroll through Tumblr, especially when searching the term “goth,” reveals an endless succession of empty subcultural symbols and signs.  Dyed hair, black lipstick, Doc Martens, and mohawks are the carcass of the goth subculture—void of commitment and, most of all, the music.
* * *
The Internet’s flow of data and ease of accessibility to information brought about a change to the subcultural framework of pre-internet alternative youth culture.  Subgroups of goth did not exist until the 1990s when members’ interests strayed to other fashions and music outside of the original framework of the subculture in conjunction to the new territories that the Internet provided.  The creation of these subgroups appropriate basic elements of goth, especially the use of black.  One such example is the emergence of the Internet sensation “health goth,” a fashion trend that does not actually correspond to the subculture’s foundations of moody atmospheric sounds and feminine looks (albeit knowingly). Health goth’s aesthetic emphasis is on black sportswear. It caused a small blip in the mainstream and managed to receive write-ups in both The New York Times and Marie Claire. Originally a Facebook page run by Chris Cantino, Mike Grabarek, and Jeremy Scott from Portland, health goth bloomed into something bigger than itself due to its media portrayal, which often missed the point, suggesting the idea that wearing black is goth. The health goth Facebook page began as a collection of images the three friends found aesthetically pleasing, pictures of sportswear, bionic and robotic super creatures and sports ads. Health goth, bore little parallel to goth’s subcultural lineage right from the start. Where goth’s dark androgynous creatures helped redefine beauty—often embracing alternative body shapes, and dressing in considerably less comfortable clothes, such as corsets and pointy shoes—the black-clad gym go-ers of health goth aimed to replicate mainstream beauty standards of a svelte, fit body. Goth welcomed the other, not the ideal.
The originators of health goth discussed the fashion phenomenon with i-D Magazine late last year, stating, “We reject the idea that [health goth] is a lifestyle choice, it’s an aesthetic and you’re welcome to pick and choose whatever bits inspire you.” The idea of pseudo-modernism is reflected in this statement, connoting a lack of commitment to a movement, of having no roots to even grasp onto. Likewise, health goth detaches itself from any subcultural substance when its originators comment, “We haven’t paired it with specific sounds, because we’ve seen other aesthetics become less relevant when the music stopped progressing.” As Chapman put it to me, to have longevity, a subculture needs a foundation in sound. “I think music always gives you an ‘attitude’ that you can shape and translate into a ‘look,’ he says. “I could never separate the music and fashions, for me they always go hand in hand.”
Our ephemeral Internet fantasy world has swept society into a Pavlovian nightmare. We see it, we get it—and that culture of instant gratification can hamper our creativity. Chapman sees himself lucky as having come of age in the 1980s: “Today, young people are served youth culture on a plate,” he says. “[Us goths] also had to seek things out for ourselves, and there were very few ways of sharing information, music, and other influences. I think that can only have made us a more creative generation. You couldn’t buy what we wanted; we had to invent it [ourselves].”
Our inherent desire to create has not died out but is much more difficult. The individualism of the Internet has brought about more independent record and fashion labels, while urging artists to be more entrepreneurial in order to sell their craft. A challenge of all artists in the Internet age is to stand out even it seems every aesthetic and idea has been produced. I do believe that there are varying levels of devotion beyond the Tumblr generation that will connect individuals who have a desire to grasp every ancestral nugget of the past in order to continue to forge new underground movements. But, perhaps, the movement must begin internally rather than through aesthetic decisions just as the pioneering goths did before us—fueled by music and a desire to challenge what is  in this pseudo-modernist society. Until then, just like the Xerox machine, we are blurring the DNA of our subcultural histories, copies of copies piling up.





There’s more music at our fingertips today than there was twenty years ago, and as great as that is, finding genuine talent is becoming increasingly difficult. Music discovery is easier and more immediate, but the weight of all this new music is building pressure. It feels like the internet is beginning to fold in on itself.
Until recently, SoundCloud was one of the finest sites for music discovery as well as streaming. Due to the rise of Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and other music streaming behemoths, Soundcloud has been forced to reevaluate their business model. Instead of sticking to their independent roots, they started seeking out major label approval. In the process, they’ve lost some of the fundamental characteristics that appealed to music junkies in the first place. With the gradual introduction of advertisements, new rules, restrictions, and general hindrances to artists and listeners alike, the freedom the website was built on is being taken away piece by piece.
As music becomes less of a paid commodity for the typical consumer, why would one of the platforms initially praised for its lack of advertising and major label interference poison itself with the worst elements from its competitors? The answer to that is, of course, an obvious one—money—but that makes it no less disheartening. Like Turntable.fm—an interactive music-sharing service that was closed in 2013 after less than three years of existence—SoundCloud is losing the sense of camaraderie that once made it so special.
As is the case with SoundCloud, when the overall user base gets too large, a focused scene can turn into a bloated mess. The sense of community is lost.

As we’ve seen with Grooveshark, few companies are capable of overcoming the immense hurdle of scaling their business and competing with the corporate giants who dominate the music industry. With popularity comes interest from big business and a responsibility to cater to the masses, and that’s where a lot of the magic is lost. When something in the music industry starts to catch on, everyone jumps at the opportunity to profit from it, and quite often, services and artists have no choice but to submit themselves in ways that diminish the overall quality.
As communities grow, those on the outside begin to take notice. As is the case with SoundCloud, when the overall user base gets too large, a focused scene can turn into a bloated mess. The sense of community is lost.
Romil, Kevin Abstract’s go-to producer and one of Brockhampton’s key members, says, “It’s amazing that you can upload your song and the whole world can stream it, but it’s getting really over saturated.” One of the key reasons for this saturation is the introduction of the repost feature, something that many artists and listeners initially praised. Viewed as an opportunity to easily share songs on the service itself instead of an outside social media site, the function has since turned certain sections of SoundCloud into a sort of massive circle-jerk.
Niche scenes on SoundCloud which were born out of a desire to offer something new and foster a sense of community are defeating their very purpose by only circulating their own music via reposts. Scenes develop and remain interesting by welcoming new artists and integrating new ideas, but a few of the big players in the current wave of known collectives seem more concerned with maintaining an aesthetic than evolving.
You know those people that retweet all of their friends a little too much? Well, imagine that but with a three-minute long track instead of 140 characters, clogging your feed from numerous sources. As well as endless reposting of the same music, artists have been flooding the service with new music, as a result oversaturating their own discographies. To see higher numbers on their profile, a lot of producers feel the need to put out a new track every day. There’s so much music on the internet already, why make your own music another few drops in an ocean of mediocrity?
Thousands of bootleg remixes of ‘Trap Queen’ later, the real diamonds in the rough are now even more obscured. The community is simply too big at this point to really capitalize on what made it the go-to place for unearthing talent in the first place.

That’s a very broad question to ask of artists, but now it applies to SoundCloud more than ever. Thousands of bootleg remixes of “Trap Queen” later, the real diamonds in the rough are now even more obscured. The community is simply too big at this point to really capitalize on what made it the go-to place for unearthing talent in the first place. While SoundCloud hasn’t helped itself in any way with its recent developments, the real problem comes from its immense growth.
An easy way to put this into perspective is to talk about the growth of video games since the ’90s, when they really started to enter mainstream consciousness. Games got flashier and technically “better” as they advanced, but for a lot of people the magic is no longer there. Video games weren’t big business back then, and it showed in the fearless creativity of some video game studios and publishers. Greed has overtaken much of that spirit, and at a certain point, the end products look less like art to the consumers, and more like a business. Ultimately that’s what music and videos games are, but no one wants to their art to be looked at like that in the grand scheme of things.
The barriers to entry in music as a whole have diminished from the days of vinyl and compact discs, mainly because of illegal activities and YouTube replacing MTV as the go-to place for music videos. SoundCloud prided itself on not having any barriers, on allowing everyone in and excluding no one, but now there are users making it harder for newcomers to get heard. Just like the internet itself in the early days, people have found dubious ways to make money through SoundCloud—paid reposts, bot followers, and fake plays have led to an overall decrease in quality. But these same trends encourage artists to push themselves even further, a vicious cycle perpetuated by the necessity to stand out.
The slow death of SoundCloud’s sense of community begs the question: What’s next? For every movement that dies, another is born in its place. Out of necessity, small artists will always need a safe haven to develop, experiment, and band together—otherwise they’re nothing more than a whisper in a sea of shouts. There are many small communities like Soulseek and SPF420 flourishing away from the spotlight, and away from the pressure of cooperating with the powers that be.
To put it simply, SoundCloud spoiled us. “It made it easy to discover whole worlds if you just knew where to look and how,” says P&P contributor Jon Tanners. “It has become an ecosystem capable of supporting other ecosystems, but that means SoundCloud now has big dollar signs attached to it.” Artists are asking how much it will cost for a repost from better-known SoundCloud artists, and some are actually accepting offers. It’s a means to an end, but when you’re promoting art only because money is exchanging hands, the impact is diminished.
We use it for everything now, from memes to major label releases, which means it’s not as exciting to the kids who want to do something different. They’re going to be looking for alternatives. They are looking. – Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth, a producer and prominent user of the platform, told us via email, “SoundCloud will remain strong until a real threat arrives that can offer what we loved about SoundCloud in the beginning, while simplifying and improving the formula.” It’s very possible that a new service could rise up out of nowhere, but it needs to have the same user friendly interface and inherent shareability. “I think we always love a fresh idea in the earliest stages. Discovering new ways around the technology, ways to use it that other people haven’t thought of, and so on. We use it for everything now, from memes to major label releases, which means it’s not as exciting to the kids who want to do something different. They’re going to be looking for alternatives. They are looking. ”
In conversation with Liz from the online music venue SPF420, she mentioned that artists are only willing to pay for reposts “because they’re blindsided by the audience that is portrayed by the artist.” There’s a high chance that when they pay for a repost, they’ll just get lost in a mess of other tracks by like-minded artists. “I think that maybe it helps people sleep better at night to know that their music got a little tiny boost, even though there was a price to pay for it, rather than no one listening to it.” Casual listeners following their favorite producer on SoundCloud won’t necessarily pay attention to a repost as it appears automatically in a feed, so in the long run a paid repost doesn’t do the artist a lot of good outside a boost to their numbers.
Hemsworth isn’t a fan of the concept of reposts as a business, either. Annoyed at even the prospect of asking for a repost, let alone paying for one, he stressed that “if you’re an artist or someone running a page that accepts money for reposts, no one will give a shit about your page very quickly because good music will prevail. Sounds cheesy but I’ll always believe that.”
Paying for coverage removes the original intent of the repost and damages the service in the long run. Paid reposts are unfortunately something that artists feel they need to seek out, but they’re frequently sold to those who don’t know any better under false pretenses, effectively robbing both involved parties of their credibility.
The legalities getting songs removed for use of samples and full songs in the case of mixes are, of course, inevitable. It’s something that the internet has been adjusting to ever since the days of Napster. The reposts, however? It seems to be something that could be easily solved. As a Twitter user, you’ve been able to turn off retweets for a long time, and it’s a valuable function if you follow Lil B. SoundCloud has yet to offer such a function.
For the most part, the features added to the service over the years have been valuable. SoundCloud isn’t dead just yet—in fact it’s far from it—but it’s certainly starting to feel like it’s on the verge of overdosing. It’s an integral platform for artists and music lovers, but the community that fuels it is slowly disbanding. A SoundCloud embed will always be useful, but while aspirations of major label deals and new revenue streams become the focus, the core users are getting fed up. It’s time to say RIP to SoundCloud as a community, and hello to SoundCloud as a service.


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