An essay on the new aesthetic
Sterling characterizes the New Aesthetic through the imagery that it accumulates, most visibly on Birdle's New Aesthetic Tumblr: "Information visualization.
An essay on the new aesthetic
We borrow the aesthetic of satellite views for our work not because we've been counseled by the machine, but because we have personally judged the results of this functional system as beautiful. This attitude manifests in the low-level Luddite response to almost every technical innovation; in the stigmatisation of geek culture and interests, academic and recreational; in the managerial culture of economic government — and in the elevation of sleek, black-box corporate-controlled objects, platforms and services, from the iPhone to the SUV, over open-source, hackable, comprehensible and shareable alternatives. Surveillance cameras. Bogost ends the first chapter of Alien Phenomenology with a vivid evocation of this process of speculation: "Our job is to amplify the black noise of objects to make the resonant frequencies of the stuffs inside them hum in credibly satisfying ways. Every satellite image posted is a meditation on the nature of mapping, that raises issues of perspective and power relationships, the privilege of the overhead view and the monopoly on technological agency which produces it. I believe that much of the weak commentary on the New Aesthetic is a direct result of a weak technological literacy in the arts, and the critical discourse that springs from it. I'd like to use this space to muse on a few of the words and concepts invoked by Sterling in his "Essay on the New Aesthetic. And they're exciting, or interesting, or, at least, easy to make. Many of the New Aesthetic's advocates hope that this new movement can change that. There is always some part of each object that remains inaccessible. Are we getting too wrapped up in style? This intention of keeping the field open was, and perhaps remains, naive.
We just mined the design constraint from the engineered devices that permeate our contemporary life. Regardless of what you call it or define it as, or whether you feel it's significant or not, the New Aesthetic isn't going to disappear.
The new aesthetic and its politics
In fact OOO is part of a larger philosophical movement who's name, Speculative Realism , derives from this very process of imaginative empathy. As a result, it remains largely illegible to them, despite frequent public statements of the present kind. The fact that your laptop is arguably "less intelligent than a goldfish" does not stop us from collaborating with machines to access new experiences and augment our creative capacity. As a creative who mostly types a lot of words in a row, I have some other personal creative problems. It remixes too much from what already exists. The computer didn't make these judgements, and we're not claiming that a computer would 'like' the work. Sterling pins The New Aesthetic in time by contrasting it with post-modernism, surrealism, situationalism, futurism. The internet, ironically, has allowed us to create a cut and paste culture from the trends of previous generations. He's giving the movement some tough love. On immediate reflection I'd say "good job" and "go easy on the drones". The concept has provoked and prodded, -- the haters pick up on the title, anything with 'New' in the title is likely to be dismissed as anything but. Advertisement …and because of that, it's been called flawed… Some accuse the New Aesthetic of superficiality. The computer didn't make these judgements, and we're not claiming that a computer would "like" the work. The culture of technology is a human culture and a human experience. Feel free to email if you have something to say, or leave a trackback from your own site.
In this sense, from my perspective, it is as much work as criticism: it does not conform to the formal shapes — manifesto, essay, book — expected by critics and academics. The core of his complaint is that the visual objects Bridle has assembled under the New Aesthetic banner don't add up to a coherent philosophy.
There is a justified and rising opposition to drone warfare and in the last week, to issues around computational surveillance and intelligencewhich may or may not produce lasting political change; but even if successful this will only change the images and objects employed, not the modes of thinking, coupled to technological mastery, which drive it.
Now, let's return to Sterling's essay. It's just reality. Bridle is circumspect about his own role and feels that other members of the panel, Ben Terrett, Joanne McNeil, Russell Davies and Aaron Straup Cope did an excellent job of broadening the discourse to encompass the impact of the concept on politics etc.
That place has always been very deliberately obscured, we don't like to talk about that". Look at all of them: Information visualization. Half of the New Aesthetic Tumblr seems to be about identifying themes that emerge from functionalist design especially computational design.
The new aesthetic and art constellations of the postdigital
And they're exciting, or interesting, or, at least, easy to make. Surveillance cameras. Sterling pins The New Aesthetic in time by contrasting it with post-modernism, surrealism, situationalism, futurism. So, what, in particular, does OOO have to say about objects? He tinkers with language, hacking together existing terms to fashion widgets for our use. It's an attempt to imagine the inner lives of the native objects of the 21st century and to visualize how they imagine us. Sterling's critique is not subtle: stop gawking sci-fi robot-vision screen captures, slapping labels on them and presenting it as an aesthetic. The crux of what he thinks is interesting comes down to this: we are surrounded by new hardware and it's doing some unpredictable and provocative things. Those who cannot understand technology are doomed to be consumed by it. That would be a big deal in itself. The New Aesthetic, as it exists in drone technology and Google Maps imagery and data surveillance, represents a ground-level change in our existence. The fact that your laptop is arguably "less intelligent than a goldfish" does not stop us from collaborating with machines to access new experiences and augment our creative capacity. They lack perception. It is easy to critique the culture of sharing as a proliferator of vacant memes.
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