The Death Of Authenticity

Trends / Realness
Klaus Vedfelt
Tristen Norman
Aug 14, 2018

For the last ten years, the democratization of photography has been shaking us free from the highly stylized, slick imaginings of the world and introduced us to the concept of “authenticity.” And yet, creative expression of late is bringing us back to the more playful, dream‑like aspects of reality. Whether it’s the yearning nostalgia for the styling and accouterments of yesteryear or the invention of new worlds altogether, creators across all mediums are shirking the real for the fantastic. Getty Images Creative Planning Manger, Tristen Norman dissects the idea of whether the allure of authenticity is dead.

If you were to take a snapshot of the media currently dominating our screens, billboards and magazines it would seem that the lure of authentic imagery has dissipated. Consider the ethereally kitschy, glamourous ‘70s styling found in the recent music videos of the rappers’ Cardi B’s Bartier Cardi or Migos’ Walk It Talk or the singing duo St. Beauty’s Not Discuss It. Or the playful, color‑forward ‘80s class portraits of Camper’s Summer/Spring 2018 campaign. Or Gen Z’s penchant for recapturing the grainy, over‑exposed look of ‘90s‑style snapshots, complete with an artificial date stamp courtesy of an app called Huji cam.

Conversely, brand new colorfully subversive worlds are being imagined with work like Janelle Monae’s futuristic Dirty Computer “emotion picture” or Boots Riley’s new ode to surrealism with the film, “Sorry to Bother You.” Both substantial departures in their own ways from reality complete with powerful messages reflecting the times.

Perhaps this drive to visually escape to old, new or different worlds is a consequence of the overwhelming social unrest and tumult we’re experiencing today. Escapist, surrealist art has long been a respite for the world through times of upheaval. What’s known is that creators are forging new paths forward, one that’s a departure from prescribed notions of “authenticity” and introducing new ways of transcending reality altogether. 

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