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8 triptychs - Onty


The featured work, entitled 'Eight Triptychs' is an experimental film which serves as an exercise in the novel filmic genre known as 'CoreCore'. CoreCore emerged in 2020-22 during the peak of the pandemic. CoreCore was first known as 'NicheTok', as it emerged first on the social media platform TikTok. The research I intend to develop at Foreign Objekt is precisely an investigation of the cultural and ideological significance of CoreCore as a genre. Briefly, CoreCore is a kind of pseudo-Dadaist avant-garde film genre whose method deliberately precludes any 'external' element such as a narrative scaffold or hidden meaning. CoreCore must be understood as an attempted surmounting of 'Core', which has become a dominant memetic format in digital culture, originating arguably in the 'moodboard' era of Tumblr circa 2014. In a few words, 'Core' is a suffix which indicates that its object has assumed the status of an aesthetic category. Thus for example 'cottage', when taken as 'cottage-core' assumes the position of an agalma, a kind of hidden 'center' around which various other objects of experience orbit. Wooden beams, candles, rain on windowpanes, mason jars, etc. all are 'authenticated' by virtue of their proximity to the 'core' of 'cottagecore'.

Crucially, however, the 'cottage' in cottagecore is itself a member of its own set, which reduces the 'core' in cottagecore to a kind of zero-signifier implying the meaning-bearing property of the category despite assuming no particular meaning itself. The infinite proliferation of 'cores' thus cannibalizes any object of experience and 'voids' it in assigning it the status of a center. 'Core' effectively represents the ultimate example of naively dualistic, essentialist thought -what Hegel would call 'external reflection'- in that appearance is constantly pushed up against a hidden 'essence' which escapes it, motivating an indefinite paranoiac quest for identity, authenticity, brand... indeed, of 'core'. CoreCore, however, represents an attempt to supersede the logic of 'core' and push into the 'appearance as appearance'. Rather than assembling a series of appearances in reference to some external voided 'core', CoreCore incorporates this gap between 'essence and appearance' (Core vs. its object) into the very series of appearances itself. This move, which is arguably a form of 'sublation' of Core, presents 'CoreCore' as a sort of 'speculative moment'. It is for this reason that CoreCore seems ‘empty’ or ‘uninterpretable’ - for the consciousness caught up in external reflection, CoreCore’s lack of ‘external referent’ presents as a lack of essence. In reality, CoreCore exceeds this logic by incorporating the gap between the ‘cottage’ and ‘core’ into its very form : i.e. ‘Core-Core’. What is one to make of a culture that invents CoreCore? This is the question I seek to address at Foreign Objekt.

My contention, and what I intend to articulate at Foreign Objekt, is that CoreCore is an inevitable consequence of our ‘spectacular’ society; which has been overtaken by phantasies and images designed to forcefully mediate the means by which its citizens enter into thought and relation. When the relationship to others and oneself is mediated by the proliferation of memes, narratives, images, and various other late-modern spirits which constitute the ‘society of the spectacle’, something like CoreCore can be read as an attempt to express the emptiness of such a habitus and an attempt to supersede said limit. In other words, CoreCore is what you get when a society of images, a society constantly shelled by the appearance-essence gap constitutive of the paranoiac quest for identity, brand, and authenticity; attempts to think itself out of itself. I argue that this desire to supersede the superegoic demand to disclose a ‘hidden’ authentic essence (as Byung Chul Han puts it, the conversion of a subject to a ‘pro-ject’), i.e. the cultural exhaustion with external reflection, is also visible outside of CoreCore in the explorations of novel forms of Irony which do not figure irony as being in opposition to a hidden ‘authentic’ sincerity that can remain unthreatened by any missteps the subject might commit. In sum, I intend to explore the origins and potential of ‘CoreCore as a cultural micromovement.

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