PAINS / Post Avant Internet Surrealism

PAINS / Post Avant Internet Surrealism

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PAINS (acronym for Post Avant INternet Surrealism) is a style of abstract computer art that emerged in September of 2012 on 4chan’s music board /mu/. PAINS is recognizable by its heavily distorted style, vivid contrasts and banal color harmonies. Recurring themes include Rage Faces, screenshots of posts on 4chan, pop culture, image exploitables and obscure memes close to the 4chan and /mu/ community. Usually, a PAINS artist uses a wide variety of image processing methods like compression, noise generators or posterising in order to achieve a distorted and abstract composition. Many works are have a negative, dark or vulgar nature; thus, most recurring memes are only used to mock other internet communities.

Origin and spread

Mockeries, collages and distorted images have existed for a longer time on 4chan. But in the first half of September 2012, the PAINS community took a flight by defining itself and by purposely producing art. Contributors felt that the ever refreshing nature of 4chan wasn’t beneficial to the preservation and spread of PAINS works and therefore started communities on other sites like tumblr and
On Sept. 9th, a Tumblr by the name of “post-avant-internet-surrealism” was created, as well as a group, which had 68 members by Sept. 22nd. A week later, on Sept. 16th, a Facebook page was created, which acquired 45 likes.


PAINS is meant to be disturbing. Most works are negative with regards to composition and theme. The indecipherable, distorted images create a sense of distance and unfamiliarity. PAINS is completely bizarre, it reminds of other styles like pop-art, surrealism, expressionism, dadaism, op-art and glitch-art.

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