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OK with uncool

Javier Lourenco is the Buenos Aires-based creative director of visual studio Flamboyant Paradise and founder of TheUncoolHunter, a website throwing a cheeky middle finger to the trendoids of the world by insisting on filling in the often-ignored aspects of popular culture Wallpaper and Visi decide to give a miss. [video]
OK with uncool

Lourenco, who co-directed the short film The Blindness in the Woods (think fairy tale meets Nordic erotica), is visiting Cape Town as a guest speaker at the Toffie Pop Culture Festival & Design Conference organised by creative agency The President, where he will be discussing filmmaking. The festival runs 24 - 26 March 2011 at the Cape Town City Hall.

Bizcommunity: What is uncool at the moment?
Javier Lourenco: Uncool does not have the same meaning as it used to five years ago. It has a new connotation; uncool is not used as a pejorative word as before because we incorporated the uncool as part of our consumption. The elite incorporates uncool stuff to their daily consumption and, because of that, it becomes trendy.

Anyway, for the time being, we are in the presence of two kinds of cultural products and both of them are subjects to be studied:

  • The genuine uncool

    It is a product that comes from the research of a field that is not known or it is slightly known. It is not referenced in other things. This is everything we have to point out in The Uncoolhunter's primary study: the kitsch, the bizarre, the freak, the sub-professional, the eccentric, the extravagant, the pretentious, the expensive sold at a lower price, the cheap sold at a higher price, the incoherent, the surreal... This material is what we mainly publish and basically we pay attention to it but, on the other hand, sometimes we publish other kinds of articles that have to do with the Genuine Uncool.

  • The non-genuine uncool

    This product derives from the research of those professionals who can differentiate between the cool and the uncool (artists, filmmakers, designers, creatives, etc) and who can produce by referring from a genuine uncool product or an aesthetic reference coming from their own world. The final result is an aesthetically uncool product but with a cool meaning.
Biz: Why do we choose to ignore significant parts of our popular culture?

Lourenco: Because the elite think that being massive (after a product becomes main stream) becomes popular and we the trendy tend to ignore that.

Biz: Do you see a cultural trend towards 'real' (underground restaurants etc) that leaves our preconceived notions of cool/uncool behind?

Lourenco: Nowadays, [the] limits between cool and uncool are totally blurred. I believe in original things more than cool/uncool. It doesn't really matter if they come from the supposedly cool (elite) or uncool world (emerging).

Biz: The rise in emerging nations and the decline in western cultural hegemony - uncool right? Seriously, though, to what extent are 'emerging' nations starting to drive popular culture?

Lourenco: Of course, the decline of western hegemony opened the chance for emerging countries to show their cultural products. The elite are tired [of digging] in the same data all the time. The trend is to look for hidden info; "difficult to find" in this case becomes original, not known for the majority. Shanty-town organised tours are a well-known example of this.

Biz: What is the point of your Unstyle site, other than being a gallery of interesting characters?

Lourenco: It depends on the twist you give to the word "interesting". For me, bizarre, kitsch, surreal, extravagant is interesting.

Biz: Since you started Uncool, a lot more people take you very seriously. Is the last laugh on them?

Lourenco: Yes, for instance, TheUncoolHunter.com was awarded as one of the most 12 ultracool blogs of the year 2009 by Trends Update. Contradictory.

The Blindness of the Woods - Short Film from Flamboyant Paradise on Vimeo.

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About Herman Manson: @marklives

The inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011, Herman Manson (@marklives) is a business journalist and media commentator who edits industry news site www.marklives.com. His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines locally and abroad, including Bizcommunity.com. He also co-founded Brand magazine.

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