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Personal Experience - Melchior Philips

Vibing with Vaporwave: Melchior's project

You may know it: vaporwave. It is a microgenre of music that was especially popular on the internet in the 2010s. Melchior Philips has taken a closer look at this genre for his Honours Project. “I am working on an online exhibition in a video game.”

Why did you start with Honours?

I liked English very much, but I noticed that I could handle more challenges. I was in doubt about what I wanted to do for my project. I wrote the entire research plan over a few beers the evening before the application deadline. Since then, I have never regretted my choice to do Honours!

What is your research about?

My project is about vaporwave. It is a musical microgenre that is often characterised as postmodern. I myself thought that this characterisation did not quite fit, so I called it “post-postmodern”. When I signed up, I did not know that there is another name for post-postmodernism: metamodernism. Metamodernism is a kind of combination between modernism and postmodernism. There happen to be some people at Radboud who are doing research on this, like my supervisor Dennis Kersten. So I had accidentally found a good example for their research topic. The nice thing was that nobody had really researched metamodernism in music, so my project was pretty much uncharted territory.

''My project was pretty much uncharted territory''

How did you design your project?

I first wanted to make a vaporwave exhibition in a museum. That was not possible due to COVID, so I chose a different form. I am working on a virtual exhibition in the 2007 game Team Fortress 2. In this game, I want to exhibit 20 album covers from vaporwave artists and then play their music underneath. Visitors can also read my meta-analysis of the album covers and the music. This game isn’t really the best-looking, but it suits vaporwave very well to do the exposition in such an old game.

Do you want to enter the academic world later on?

No, that is not really my ambition. I knew that even before I started with Honours. I love science, but I am too critical of academia to function there. I would rather do something that has to do with science, but is a bit more creative. Yet I think I will never completely disappear from the academic world. After I finish English, I plan to study Artificial Intelligence. This is completely different from English, but it does have a small connection to my Honours project. Metamodernism is about the future of our culture and I think AI will shape this future.

Is there anything else you would like to pass on to future Honours students?

You have to think carefully about what you want to achieve with your Honours Project. Your supervisor cannot figure out what your goals are for you. But you don't have to worry about knowing everything right from the start either. You will be given enough time to develop your idea and goals. Afterwards, your supervisor can help you in further shaping this idea. Be sure to manage your time, because there are only 24 hours in a day. But apart from that, I have this message: Honours is something you should do: it's fun.