Aesthetic Exploration 2020: Oceanic

For my Aesthetic Exploration, I am focusing mainly on the “Oceanic Aesthetic”. This aesthetic conveys natural power and the contrast between the many shades of blues against the whites of the crashing crests of the waves. The visuals and themes can be centered around the calmness of the ocean surface, the power and rage of the crashing waves, the other worldly nature of the underwater viewpoint, and of course the marine life theme. Many categories of sub-aesthetics are based on the main oceanic aesthetic. A prime example of an aesthetic based off oceanic is the Ocean Grunge aesthetic. Ocean Grunge is a music-centric aesthetic that is loosely based off of the Seapunk aesthetic that started in 2014. It has a darker air and color palette which are blacks, greys, and muted blues [1].

Figure 1. Example of the Ocean Grunge aesthetic, showcasing its use of the darker color palette and oceanic themes.

The main theme of the Oceanic Aesthetic like I mentioned previously, can take many forms and is up to the desire of the artist to focus and interpret. The age-old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is perfectly exemplified by the ocean, as it constantly changes shape and form based on its environment and influence. Shown below is one of the sub-themes mentioned earlier. The “Power” aesthetic as I call it shows a deep contrast between the violence of the crashing waves [2], the dark palette of the water to convey the depth of the ocean, and can aim to invoke fear and respect of the ocean [3].

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Figure 2. The white-blue contrast of crashing waves.

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Figure 3. The dark palette of deep ocean shots.

Another sub-theme worth exploring in the Oceanic aesthetic is the “Peaceful” aesthetic. This focuses on the combination of sunlight against the ocean, incorporating a light palette [5] with the sparkle of light, against a calm surface of water. People choose to reference and explore this aesthetic when seeking a calming effect of the ocean, or to frame the ocean as non-threatening natural existence [4].

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Figure 4. The Peaceful aesthetic showcasing the balance between reflection of light against a calm ocean surface.

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Figure 5. Showcasing the light palette used in the peaceful aesthetic to convey feelings of calm.

The Marine life theme incorporates the powerful animalistic themes from the animal kingdom, and the oceanic aesthetic. This sub-theme is largely flexible, based on the artist’s intentions behind the picture. A dark or light palette can be used to convey peace or ferocity. This is largely based on the marine life being showcased. Sharks and other predators (sharks, squids, etc.) [6] typically contrast against a darker palette, while friendlier peaceful animals are contrasted against lighter palettes (turtles, dolphins, etc.) [7].

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Figure 6. A Great White shark, the apex predator of the ocean set against a darker palette to convey strength, power, and fear.

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Figure 7. A sea turtle, set against a light palette and calm seas to convey peace, happiness, and a friendly feeling.

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Zach, I really like your choice of aesthetic! I believe that the ocean is one of the most strong and beautiful forces on Earth. I like the .gif you use in Figure 1. I’ve never heard of the term “Ocean Grunge” before, but the image is really cool and I’m curious where you found it? What inspired this as your choice for the first featured image in this post? I appreciate that you created names for your own sub-aesthetics, I think it was a very helpful way to organize the post.

    • Emily,
      Thank you for the comments! I found them after searching the internet for strange ocean aesthetics. I chose the Ocean Grunge as my first image to showcase the complexities and variance of the ocean aesthetic, and how it is open to interpretation! I had alot of fun with this research and I agree the Ocean is one of the most strong and beautiful forces on Earth.

  • Nathaniel Wang
    January 26, 2020 8:42 pm

    Zach, great post and I love the uniqueness of this chosen aesthetic. Growing up around different bodies of water (oceans, bays, lakes rivers, streams) I definitely relate to this aesthetic on a personal level. I think what makes the oceanic aesthetic quite powerful is how humans can relate directly what they are seeing on a canvas to a personal feeling that situation may have had on them. To some it may stir up emotions of fear while to others it may bring back cheerful, peaceful memories – depending on the human experience with it. The ocean aesthetic is a dichotomy similarly to the aesthetic I chose which was fire.
    – What other aesthetics do you think the oceanic aesthetic blends well together with? are there some that clash?
    – What platform of art have you seen this aesthetic capitalized on most frequently? i.e. paintings, photography, realistic art, abstract, etc.

    • Nathaniel,
      Some great comments here! I also related the ocean aesthetic to my own experience and close proximity to bodies of water growing up. In direct regards to you I think the Ocean and Fire aesthetics can play very nicely off one another, the best example being a bonfire on the beach! Thanks for your comments, keep em’ comin.

  • George Faraco
    January 23, 2020 5:13 pm

    Zach, great association of power with the ocean aesthetic. Although it is not always present in all art about the ocean, it is an enormous part of how I connect with water. The featured picture as well as figures 2 and 3 all display this power characteristic of the aesthetic. They really make me think and imagine of a time I was near water and experienced this power first hand. What about the featured image, figure 2, and figure 3 creates this power characteristic of the images? I think that the aesthetic of water is so cool becuase you can make analogies for almost everything, similar to fire. What other analogies or characteristics do you see with water that you did not mention here?

    • George,
      I very much agree about the association of power with the Ocean, I think it is one of the main driving themes of the Ocean. I would argue that the power characteristic comes from a Human’s inherent fear of water, as that is an environment not suitable for our survival. It invokes an almost primal feeling in everyone who sees it. That is why I think so many people choose to live near the water! Thanks again for all your comments, very helpful.


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