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TikTok’s #CoreCore videos are becoming increasingly popular. What are they exactly?

A video-editing style that some have compared to visual poetry is becoming more common on TikTok’s “For You” pages. The style, which is intended to elicit strong, often unnamed emotions in viewers, has been dubbed “CoreCore.”

The “CoreCore” TikToks combine images and video from various mediums — such as memes, headlines, movie and television clips — with emotional, rousing musical scores. The videos, which sometimes focus on a single topic, can be used to showcase social commentary in an artistic way. “CoreCore” is defined as “a kind of deconstructed art” by Urban Dictionary. Invoking emotion from a series of (visual) clips that you create your own meaning for. The content in Corecore is introspective.”

A popular “CoreCore” video, for example, juxtaposes several TikTok video clips of girls and women describing their flaws with a clip of actress Margot Robbie’s crying face in the film “I, Tonya.” Later in the video, clips of men criticising women appear, followed by women-related headlines. All of this is set to Elijah Fox’s “Wyoming,” a quiet piano song.

In 2020, the term “CoreCore” appeared on Tumblr. Its use as a hashtag on TikTok dates back to July 2022. However, the video phenomenon appears to have grown in recent weeks, as the hashtag “#CoreCore” had more than 322.6 million views as of Friday.

The creator of the trend is still unknown.

Some TikTok users point to a video collage from the user @masonoelle from January 2021 as the platform’s first prominent example of the form. It includes footage of the melting Arctic sea ice over a 35-year period, influencer Charli D’Amelio, the horror film “American Psycho,” and people shopping. The hashtag “CoreCore” is not included in the caption.

However, many consider content creator John Rising, also known on the platform as @HighEnquiries, to be the father of “CoreCore.” Rising, 40, said he wanted to take his viewers “on a short journey while only using scenes from current and old media, film, TV, and the ‘art’ world” when he began experimenting with the art style in May 2021.

Rising does not consider himself an artist or the creator of this type of video art; he attributes that to Korean American mixed media artist Nam June Paik. On TikTok, he said he has enjoyed introducing others, particularly young adults, to new forms of art.

“If I can take images, sound, and music and display them to you, the viewer, with a theme or message that you feel after watching it,” Rising said in an email to NBC News. “And I genuinely find a joy in just the creative process of making them … it has seemed to have become somewhat cathartic for me and also now with the viewers. That’s fantastic.”

Some “CoreCore” creators believe the term itself reflects how “meta” the internet has become.

“I think this is a natural progression of generations growing up through different stages of the internet and becoming increasingly meta about it over time,” said TikTok creator Rob Dezendorf, 29.

The name “CoreCore” is also a play on how many online niches are labelled as “core.” Someone who enjoys Disney, for example, might be described as “DisneyCore,” while someone who collects ceramic frogs might be described as “FrogCore.” So “CoreCore,” a cyclical term, is, in some ways, a joke. On TikTok, there are also other editing styles that take the “core” suffix.

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