Postmodernism referred to modernism, justifying itself by taking apart what it referred to. Postmodernism stopped once what it opposed was defeated. Once it had nothing left to be opposed to, it ended.
Post-post modernism seems out of place now. Thirty years later we would need to call it post-post-post modernism, still referring to postmodernism, an aesthetic movement which was formulated some 40 years ago as a response to modernism, an idea which was formulated some 130 years ago.
Strangely, it seems we got no aesthetic categories for the present.
Every artistic movement started by referring to something else: Modernism referred to classicism, historicism and its many varieties, which in the eyes of designers at the turn of the century increasingly seemed out of place.
Referring to an ever-receding past cannot go on forever. Contemporary culture therefore now offers self-referentiality.
Self-referentiality is evident with selfies, chatbots, and online advertisements playing back to you what you searched for. The digital world of today is a mirror - of your identity, your likes, your opinions.
Users are consumers of algorithms, and the way these algorithms are designed determine how their online selves are put together.
Online selves are not social constructions, but constructions of social media looking for validation in a space constructed by social media. They are alter egos interacting with other alter egos in a constructed social space.
As it becomes a real-life social necessity to have a social media self to maintain relationships in the real world, more and more time is spent on the upkeep of this social media self. Consequently, the ego and its social media alter ego get increasingly intertwined.
"We tend to come from nowhere. I live in one continent, was born in another, but originate from a third. So I am not even from where I am from. I grew up in an ambiguous social class in one of those zone four neighbourhoods that are neither metropolitan nor Metroland. We have no identity to resign from."
Janan Ganesh
Coming from nowhere: This is the contemporary condition.
The digital alter ego has become our existential condition. Placed into a digital construction, we are actors in a construed virtual space.
The International Data Corporation estimates that by 2020, user-generated content will make up over 70 percent of the entire digital universe.
Where is home for people from nowhere? Self-referentiality mirrors whatever there is and locks out whatever there could be outside of us.
We create critical digital projects to open up questions and create differences. Ultimately, we will need a reason other than ourselves to be able to exist beyond ourselves.