Luke Turner: Annunciations, 2010/2011
1. Metamodernism strongly emphasises its contemporaneity or present-ness, and its rooting in the post-millennium. It is an attempt to periodicise the 2000s, not just as a decade, but a defining ‘period’ in cultural history – a period that is characterised by a new political engagement, storytelling, post-irony, affect. Luke Turner wrote a manifesto-like piece earlier this year, which introduces the term:
“[…] rather than simply signalling a return to naïve modernist ideological positions, metamodernism considers that our era is characterised by an oscillation between aspects of both modernism and postmodernism. We see this manifest as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism, a moderate fanaticism, oscillating between sincerity and irony, deconstruction and construction, apathy and affect, attempting to attain some sort of transcendent position, as if such a thing were within our grasp. The metamodern generation understands that we can be both ironic and sincere in the same moment; that one does not necessarily diminish the other.”
In other words, metamodernism is the attempt to gather what we have learnt from modernism’s construction and postmodernism’s deconstruction (although these two things are arguably very different) of culture – and try to look forward in a new way. In this new ‘cultural toolbox’ we bring the naïve sincerity (and belief in grand narratives) of the modern and mix it with the unravelling irony of the postmodernism – to once again engage with the historical while looking toward the future with a certain optimism.
2. As such, metamodernism is also a counter-act or critique of the form of cynical, ironic and pastiche-ridden form of culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s – and insists on a strong emphasis on optimism in this new cultural mode. Gone are the emo’s and Nirvarna’s melancholic scepticism of life, replaced by the happy-go-lucky, neo-hippie free-folk movement of Mumford & Sons, for example, which “suggests other possibilities after the original hippie movement and grunge.” In cinema, the same tendency is visible in the ‘quirky’ work of the immensely popular Wes Anderson: instead of the disengaged and cold dramaturgy and cinematography so typical of the ‘90s, Anderson makes film that “engages in a sincere way with its fictional universe.” This can equally be extended to fashion, where a new wave of neo-romantic designers like CSM graduate Ed Marler re-engage historical silhouettes in an idiosyncratic and celebratory manner.