Weirdcore Aesthetic: The Fascinating World of the Oddly Familiar

Weirdcore by rainbowsandtornadoes on Tumblr
Source: rainbowsandtornadoes on Tumblr

Weirdcore is an aesthetic centered on amateur or low-quality photography, art, and videos constructed to evoke feelings of nostalgia, confusion, and discomfort. 

Origin of the Weirdcore aesthetic

Weirdcore art. Nice house by Gabrielle Traversat
Nice house by Gabrielle Traversat

Although the exact origin of the Weirdcore aesthetic is unknown, Weirdcore art was seen as early as the 2010s. Also known as Oddcore or Strangecore, it became popular after David Crypt, a YouTuber posted a video explaining Weirdcore imagery.

Most of the early Weirdcore images were posted on Tumblr and are now all over internet on platforms like Pinterest, YouTube, Discord, etc.

Weirdcore visuals

Weirdcore art. Source: Liminal Spaces on Twitter
Source: Liminal Spaces on Twitter

If you want a quick idea of how the Weirdcore aesthetic looks visually, think of low-quality, early internet pictures (think early 90s to mid-2000s) that look distorted and familiar. Now pair that with images with no connection or context. This gives a pretty good idea of what the aesthetic looks like. Weirdcore artists generally use tools such as Photoshop and MS Paint to create such images. 

The amateur editing, primitive digital graphics, lo-fi photography, and image compression may look like poor choices, but this is the exact kind of editing that gives off feelings of dread, disorientation, alienation, and anemoia.

In case you’re wondering anemoia means, don’t fret. It was a term coined in ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,’ a book that, quite coincidentally, talks about the feeling of nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. And that is exactly the feeling that Weirdcore artists want you to feel when you look at their art.

What’s the point of Weirdcore aesthetic: ?

Weirdcore by Haleyhalcyon
Weirdcore by Haleyhalcyon

Having no point is quite literally the point of Weirdcore. It just taps into the strange side of the internet that takes you away from reality for some time. If you’re like me and obsess over it for days, the Weirdcore aesthetic can make you feel as though you’re in a simulation. 

Nevertheless, it can be used as a tool to explore feelings of anxiety, disassociation, our greatest fears, and other subtler dimensions of your subconsciousness. It also plays on your survival instinct and some viewers find it hard to ground themselves at times. 

Weirdcore Motifs

The aesthetic makes use of several elements that can be almost seen in every other image.

Some of them are:

  • Bad quality images – They play with your emotions and perspectives. 
  • Liminal Spaces – These are locations that may be quite familiar to you from your childhood, like playgrounds, classrooms, malls, etc. What makes them a liminal space is the fact that they’re empty and devoid of humans, or life. These spaces are used as a base for Weirdcore edits. 
  • Eyes – To give you the feeling that someone’s watching you all the time, which is very unsettling.
  • Repeated Text – Repeated texts can make you feel as though you’re going insane, trapped, or like someone is screaming. 
  • Some famous Weirdcore lines: “I can feel your eyes,” “We’re all lost in our ways,” “Baby it’s going to be okay,” etc.
  • The Arial Font – This is the most basic, simple font out there. When you put it in a weird context, however, it becomes a source of anxiety.
  • Lights and orbs – To give an otherworldly feeling.
  • Black Void – Black voids in a picture feel like you’re left on a cliffhanger. It makes you feel as though something crucial is being left out and adds that element of mystery.

Weirdcore Music

Pilotredsun, Aphex Twin, Lyriaka, Boards of Canada, The Future Sound of London, and VLIF are some of the most popular Weirdcore musicians. 

Spotify also has a separate playlist dedicated to this genre called ‘Weirdcore Mix.’

Weirdcore games

Screenshot from 2004 cult-classic Yume Nikki
Screenshot from 2004 cult-classic Yume Nikki

Many games are inspired by the Weirdcore aesthetic:

  1. Yume Nikki – A 2004 Japanese adventure game where the player controls a girl named Madotsuki and explores her dreams. It was created by a pseudonymous Japanese developer called Kikiyama.
  2. LSD Dream emulator – A 1998 exploration PlayStation game by Asmik Ace Entertainment. The game explores surreal environments without any objective. 
  3. Greetings from Cornhenge – A simple point-and-click type game where multiple choices are depending on your choices. 
  4. Cow game – A Weirdcore–inspired game all about cows. 

The Psychology of Weirdcore 

Weirdcore aesthetic draws from our fundamental yearning towards the strange and surreal (for more of that, check out our Subculture section). It taps into our desire to explore and know the unknown. 

The juxtaposition of the familiar and the unfamiliar gives you feelings of disorientation, loneliness, and confusion, but also has a strange grounding effect due to the nostalgia. 

The play on human primal fears is the main appeal of the Weirdcore aesthetic. This can give fans a sense of community and relatability. 

Weirdcore and Dreamcore: Similarities and Differences 

Weirdcore by u/DocMcMoth on reddit
Weirdcore by u/DocMcMoth on reddit

The Dreamcore aesthetic can take inspiration from – you said it – dreams. And sometimes nightmares.

The Dreamcore art, like Weirdcore, has themes of nostalgia, familiarity, anemoia, and confusion. It puts together the kind of stuff we see in our dreams and in places where time stands still. Both the aesthetics make use of liminal spaces and the familiar in different, unimaginable ways. 

However, unlike Weirdcore, Dreamcore makes use of lighter-toned, bright, pastel, and vivid edits. So that makes Weirdcore the younger, creepier sibling of Dreamcore. Dreamcore also focuses on the feeling of being in a dream itself, which evokes feelings of wonder, intrigue, and comfort. Weirdcore, on the other hand, is all about the nostalgia, dread, and startling you awake. 

Weirdcore aesthetic today 

Needless to say, Weirdcore today is evolving. With the current nuances and technological advancement, Weirdcore has some new themes and sophisticated designs, with, of course, the occasional nod to the past. 

This Weirdcore aesthetic today shows how fluid art styles can be in today’s day and age. 

Weirdcore – a spiritual experience for both the artist and the audience

Weirdcore art Source: webcrawler2k on Tumblr
Source: webcrawler2k on Tumblr

Although the Weirdcore aesthetic can be… weird, it can be seen as a time of learning and play. It is a fun exploration into the realm of the subconscious mind and gives people a sense of community. As humans, we naturally orbit to self-discovery, growth, and creativity. 

The aesthetic can be an quite the experience for those who want to confront the unknown and their deepest fears.

Written by Kusumitha Vasanth

Kusumitha is a creative and dynamic music journalist, who spends her time between India and the UK. She's been actively reporting on India’s music scene through various publications. Kusumitha is also a professionally trained vocalist trained in Hindustani classical music.

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