Countering Culture: Corecore and rejecting the Void

George Metcalf on 10 March 2023
Patrick Bateman swinging an axe in American Psycho

Art and culture take on new forms in anxious times. Corecore is just the latest example of such a phenomenon.

We are perpetually online. As a culture, as individuals, as students, friends, lovers, consumers, whatever box we may fall into at any given moment, we will always have a foot in both the online and IRL worlds.

In many ways, this is actually pretty great. We’re more connected to culture, information and entertainment than ever before, and with the way technology is advancing we’re definitely going to see some mad sci-fi stuff in our lifetime. 

But, and not to sound too Boomer-y, unbridled access to all of the information in the world is fucking terrifying. Anyone who has spent an evening doom-scrolling, illuminated by blue light with only influencers and text-to-speech voices for company can attest to this.

Back in the day, the void and the fear of it came from uncertainty and the unknowable, these days fear of the void comes from knowing too much. What do creative people do in the face of the void? Make something out of it. Enter Corecore…

What is Corecore? 

Adding the suffix ‘core’ is a chronically online way of labelling subcultures - Cottagecore, Blokecore, Goblincore - so with that in mind, Corecore is both the epitome and anthesis of being online. 

Corecore videos follow a collage format, splicing together some (usually pretty bleak) clips that perfectly sum up the doom-scrolling experience. 

@derekbxxx Social media ruins lives #corecore #coretok #nichetok #mentalhealth #fyp #xyzbca #foryou #foryoupage ♬ origineel geluid - 🎧

Snippets of Joe Rogan spouting nonsense about manhood, overlapping voices not really saying anything, old-school Apple and Microsoft ads talking about the “wonders of the internet”. It’s really just anything you might see on a nightly scroll, but presented in a way that’s actually saying something. 

@httpshyo #corecore #parentissues ♬ QKThr - Aphex Twin

How depressing the content is depends on the creator but the themes of anti-capitalism and anti-consumerism are a constant. 

Is Corecore art? 

In short, yes. Corecore is often compared to the Dada movement of the early 20th century, wherein young people channelled the fear and anger caused by WWI into an absurd portrait of society. 

Beyond that though, collaging has been a valid form of artistic expression since it was first invented. Old punk zines, Barbara Kruger’s Supreme-inspiring work in the 80’s, whenever people have been pissed off about something they’ve found a way to express it by cutting stuff up and making something new.

But there is Hope(core)

Although the output is often pretty deep, a new branch of Corecore has begun to emerge that is far more optimistic. Hopecore exists to break up the doom scrolling, utilising the same video collage format but from a more positive perspective. Pictures of nature, motivational speeches, and general uplifting content can get lost in the ether.

@hopecoreman There is hope #corecore #hopecore #nichetok ♬ aisatsana [102] - Aphex Twin

Many will see these movements as a flash in the pan in an ever-changing kitchen, but the Corecore and Hopecore hashtags have garnered 1.6 billion views and 153.3 million views respectively. So regardless of whether or not they’re art (they are), they’ve clearly struck a chord with the chronically online. 

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George  Metcalf
George Metcalf on 10 March 2023