7. Kimberley Peel

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Irony – the elixir of cool.

Irony, as defined by a quick google search, is ‘the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite’. To break this down, expressing something ironically, i.e. saying one thing and meaning another, is cool because it signifies that the communicator has inside knowledge of good taste and is intentionally doing the opposite to make a point. When applying this logic to further self-expression, a world of polarities was opened.

The first polarity explored was the idea of loungewear becoming a high fashion item. It appears a typical class aspiration to be hanging around in track pants all day as it symbolises freedom. Perhaps, inspired by the hours of Kardashians available on the Internet, to watch them also sit around in loungewear in-between glammed up photoshoots. It appears, in this instance that when the function of an item becomes irrelevant, it is elevated to a higher status and acceptable for all leisure occasions.

The location explores the polarity of posting ‘throwback’ travel selfies on social media in the Covid-19 era. Airports are currently sites of collective trauma, once seen as a symbol of freedom and mobility, now reduced to relics of technological nostalgia.

Inspired by J-pop and K-pop boy band album covers, the pose embodies the androgynous and ultra-constructed nature of the subcultures. This music was a key influence during formaAve years for both artists who are from Asian backgrounds. When listened to within the Australian context, the music reflects cringeworthy popular taste.

From these examples, the ‘elixir of cool’ is argued to be the conflation of good and bad taste by using irony as a mechanism to break down symbolic meaning.