#ae features the natural and artificial co-existing, here with old PC photoshopped next to a flowering tree

#ae (pronounced 'hashtag ay-ee') is an aesthetic pionereed by tumblr user bitterplant, which while not as present in the public mind as more well known subcultures derived from supersubcultures (such as healthgoth and pastelgoth, both derived from the supersubculture, goth) it maintains a consistent and intriguing brand identity that is not obviously derivative of any singular supersubculture, but a unique collection of visual hallmarks and symbols that coalesce to a complex aesthetic whole.

common imagery of #aeEdit

ae, like any well developed aesthetic, has common reoccuring imagery. a few of the most common subjects found in #ae images

Cut oranges and porcelain birds on a solid tone but textured background. very #ae.

  • religious iconography (eg porcelain angel statuettes, renaissance cherubim paintings & the crucifix)
  • fruit (in particular cut oranges, japanese peaches and forest berries)
  • geometric shapes and tesselating patterns (tiles or swatches of colour feature prominently)
  • "old internet" graphics (windows 98 & 95 most common)
  • plastic supermarket bags with print, either images or text
  • plants and flowers (either unusual themselves or growing in unusual places)
  • hands (usually from a first person perspective)

    an amateur decorated cake featuring an eye crying presumably tears of blood

however, the subject matter of #ae images do not alone define the cohesive aesthetic. the true hallmarks of #ae are just as about the quality of the image as they are about the subject matter of the image.

ae images can also be defined by having these visual criteria

  • defined shadows and high-lights
  • well discernable textures
  • solid colour or patterned backdrops OR unstaged backgrounds (ie apartments)
  • muted, faded or contrasting colours

#ae definedEdit

ae is not strictly defined by the subject matter of the images, but with the overall tone of the image.

ae images often evoke the feeling of 1970s-1990s furniture and decor catalogues, modern consumerism, and most of all a sense of human artifice. plastic bags, novelty statuettes, tacky furniture, old internet icons, and cut fruit all invoke the spirit of the modern consumer, surrounded by artificial and commercialized commodities.

ae revels in both the beauty of the artificial, captured organically through the mundane perspective, and the organic, juxtaposed in artificial environments.