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After Hours is an aesthetic inspired by the forlorn atmosphere of empty or seemingly abandoned places that are usually bustling with people. After Hours isn’t defined in terms of a specific artstyle or media, but instead by the imagery of various abandoned places such as empty streets, schools, and parks. However, the aesthetic is not limited to physical settings either; online settings such as abandoned blogs, empty game servers, and inactive websites can also elicit similar feelings.

The concept is built on the contrast between the memories or expectations associated with a place and the current reality of it being abandoned or devoid of human presence. These feelings, which have collectively been coined as kenopsia, include a mix of nostalgia, melancholy, and a sense of surrealism. The emptiness of the abandoned space and the remains of its former vitality can create a powerful emotional response. For some, it might cause them to reflect on the passage of time, the transience of life, or the impermanence of human activities. The always-present tranquility of After Hours distinguishes it from the adjacent aesthetic of Liminal Space, which is intentionally designed to be unsettling and foreboding.[1]

Several people who identify with this aesthetic like to explore such places, while others - such as graveyard shift workers - have no option but to be active during night. These night-crawlers love silence and quiet settings. Being away from everyone and everything is comforting to them.

The aesthetic is commonly seen in Post-Apocalyptic media to convey the effects of the world becoming empty.

History[]

Sometime about March 29th, 2015, John Koenig coined kenopsia for his online project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.[2][3][4][5]

Visuals[]

Visuals for After Hours tend to be dimly lit public areas usually bustling with people, but are shown as empty. Photos usually have streetlights that are on 24/7 as the rest of the street is dark and lifeless. Unlike the Liminal Space aesthetic, these empty areas are not always intended to be unsettling; rather, they are supposed to invoke a feeling of rebelliousness and tranquility. To people that participate in this aesthetic, the late hours are mysterious and contemplative, a moment filled with the imagery of light poles, shady corners, clocks, trash blowing, quiet urban scenery, wanderers and cat's eyes lurking.

The visuals associated often convey a haunting and surreal atmosphere. When exploring abandoned or empty spaces or locations, certain visual elements tend to be highlighted. These visual elements can include decay, emptiness, silence, nostalgia, and stillness. Often these evoke feelings of despair or uneasiness. Anything with these characteristics is usually identified as evoking kenopsia. Often these things are also related to liminal spaces, so there is crossover in that regard.

Activities[]

Nightwalks

Nighthawks, Edward Hopper

After Hours activities usually involve interacting with empty public areas; whether it be traveling through or waiting for someone that may never come. Some activities related to After Hours are illegal or dangerous and will vary according to the urban area where it takes place.

These include:

  • Nightwalking
  • Nightdriving
  • Studying
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking
  • Working on the night shift
  • Avoiding the public eye and crowded areas at night, such as crowed bars, clubs or other establishments
  • Watching TV
  • Speaking on the phone in a poorly lit area

Media[]

Kenopsia has inspired various forms of media, including photography, literature, film, and art, where creators capture and convey the unique atmosphere associated with abandoned or desolate spaces. Some examples that utilize kenopsia include:

Movies[]

  • The Man Who Sleeps (1974)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • The Warriors (1979)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Escape From New York (1981)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • The Terminator (1984)
  • After Hours (1985)
  • Red's Dream (1987)
  • Night On Earth (1991)
  • Strange Days (1995)
  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • Fallen Angels (1995)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Dark City (1998)
  • Irréversible (2002)
  • Last Life in the Universe (2003)
  • I Am Legend (2007)
  • Good Time (2017)
  • Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
  • The Kirlian Frequency (2017)
  • The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
  • Uncut Gems (2019)
  • Five Nights at Freddy's (2023)

Books[]

  • Night Cars (1988)
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (2014)
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  • The Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (1972)
  • The Stand by Stephen King (1978)

Anime & Manga[]

  • Yofukashi no Uta (Call of the Night) (2019- )

Video Games[]

Music[]

As an aesthetic based heavily on ambient, ambient-based, and adjacent music genres can be seen as complementary to this aesthetic. There are many ways one can communicate the feeling of kenopsia and some do through music by evoking feelings of emptiness, nostalgia, or solitude, similar associated things.

Artists[]

  • Mr.Kitty
  • Conan Gray
  • Clairo
  • Mild High Club
  • Cavetown
  • Yo La Tengo
  • MGMT
  • Cigarettes After Sex
  • Tv Girl

Songs[]

  • "505" by Arctic Monkeys
  • "Idle Town" by Conan Gray
  • "Comfort Crowd" by Conan Gray
  • "Homage" by Mild High Club
  • "Poison Tree" by Grouper
  • "I. Flight of the Navigator" by Childish Gambino
  • "Faith" by The Weeknd
  • "Night Shift" by Lucy Dacus
  • "Night Bus" by Burial
  • "Nightcall" by Kavinsky
  • "After Dark" by Mr.Kitty
  • "0% Angel" by Mr.Kitty
  • "Heartless" by The Weeknd
  • "Little Dark Age" by MGMT
  • "After Hours" by Alex Ernst
  • "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd
  • "When the Moon's Reaching Out Stars" by Yumi Kawamura
  • "Beneath the Mask" by Shoji Meguro
  • "Color Your Night" by Atsushi Kitajoh and Lotus Juice
  • "I'm a Member of the Midnight Crew" by Eddie Morton
  • “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
  • Acid Rain by Lorn
  • Agent Orange by Depeche Mode
  • Holocene by Bon Iver
  • "i was only temporary" by my head is empty and .diedlonely
  • "No Surprises" by Juliana Chahayed
  • "Recurring" by Bonobo
  • "Samskeyti" by Sigur Rós
  • "Still Life" by Sitcom
  • "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" by Radiohead
  • Blue Light by Mazzy Star
  • Getaway Car by Taylor Swift
  • Midnight Rain by Taylor Swift
  • Ribs by Lorde
  • Supercut by Lorde
  • Homemade Dynamite by Lorde
  • Black Heart by Carly Rae Jepsen

Resources[]

External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic.

Playlists[]

Pinterest Boards[]

YouTube[]

Gallery[]

References[]

Other Resources[]

  1. https://www.kith.org/words/2020/07/04/kenopsia-and-other-obscure-sorrows/
  2. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/kenopsia
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