The Contemporary: Gabriel Z. Ellis

The Contemporary: Gabriel Z. Ellis
Fri February 25th 2022, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall, Bldg. 460

Speaker(s): Gabriel Z. Ellis, PhD student in Musicology, Stanford



Gabriel Z. Ellis on Hyperpop

"Aesthetic Autonomy and the Commodity Form"

Hyperpop, one of the first musical genres to come of age in the streaming era, is an art form that makes no bones about the fact that it is also a commodity.

Hyperpop tracks are hyper-catchy, hyper-short, and hyper-repetitive, almost explicitly designed to compel us to repeat them as often as possible. ⁠— They are also hyper-ambiguous.

On one hand, hyperpop seems to confirm the Frankfurt School’s fears about the “culture industry.” Rather than “autonomous” artworks free from the demands of the market, hyperpop tracks can be heard as incoherent grab-bags of ear-worms, “advertisements for themselves” totally complicit with the culture of consumerism.

On the other hand, as works that confront rather than conceal their commodity character, hyperpop tracks can also be heard as theoretical texts dedicated to self-consciously working out the affordances and limitations of their own conditions of production.

In the February 25th session of the Contemporary Research Workshop, Gabriel Ellis will lead a discussion about both these possibilities.

We will be discussing the following "primary texts":

Tommy Cash's “X-RAY”
100 gecs' “mememe”

Nicholas Brown, introduction to Autonomy: The Social Ontology of Art under Capitalism [Brown raises important questions about the relationship between commodification and aesthetic form.]

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Gabriel Z. Ellis is a Ph.D. Candidate in musicology at Stanford University. He writes on aesthetics and affect in popular music and culture.