Goth: A Very Visual Subculture
Goth is an unashamedly visual subculture. The visual impact of Goth identity remains one of the core characteristics which attracted me (and many others) to the scene and which generates curiosity. Where other subcultures such as Hippies or Skinheads adhere to a social or political ethos, Goth for the most part relies on its spectacular visual representations and aesthetics to express its culture.
Goth music undoubtedly plays a vital role in the scene, a topic which I will discuss in future posts, however the visual elements of Goth hold significance for subcultural identity in isolation from music, and influence a broader spectrum of mediums independent of musical connections.
Moreover, non-Goths are often familiar with the various visual characteristics of Goth without awareness of the nuances within the diverse musical styles and subgenres of the subculture.
For outside observers, the striking appearance of Goth is what sets it out as a subculture in its own right; typified by a visual language reminiscent of the melancholic decadence of the Victorian era, with primarily black clothing accented with lurid hair colour and opulent, heavily ornamented footwear and accessories. To undertake any discourse on the Goth phenomenon without first reflecting on this very visual nature would be to devalue its primary cultural signifier and give a partially occluded view of the style, design and preoccupations of the subculture.
As a starting point for this research, I have been collating a library of imagery intrinsic to Goth as a point of visual reference and as a catalyst for discussion. Using the social networking image site Pinterest I have sourced indicative images from all over the world under various categories (boards) to articulate the preoccupations of the scene; some themes are very familiar to me, others are entirely new which in itself is exciting.