[-empyre-] The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines
plichty at colum.edu
Wed Sep 12 04:48:38 EST 2012
September on –empyre soft-skinned space: The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like
Moderated by Patrick Lichty (US) with invited discussants:
Rahel Alma, David M. Berry, Ina Blom, Nick Briz, Amber Case, Marcelo
Coelho, Michael Dieter, David Golumbia, Julia Kaganskiy, Michelle
Kasprzak, Jon Lebkowsky, Patrick Lichty, Joanne McNeil, Hrag Vartanian
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The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines
It’s been months since Bruce Sterling delivered his endnote talk at SXSW
highlighting James Bridle et al’s panel on The New Aesthetic, and there
have been furious conversations about it. If we take the replies by Watz
et al on the The Creators Project blog as an indication, there is a bit
of dismissal of the idea from my interpretation. However, many of us are
still talking about the idea, but why? I still believe that a cultural
chord was struck that is a result of extant developments in contemporary
digital art of the 2000’s that lead right to The New Aesthetic blog, or
something like it. Where I and others argue that The New Aesthetic might
be a non-movement, I would like to re-imagine that it is actually
indicative of other cultural phenomena and New Media proto-movements.
These have to do with issues of curation, precedents in New Media
“movements”, and the shape of culture in New Media society. Where I
think Bridle et al might have done a disservice to the idea of NA is
through a partial superficiality in the case of a subject, while
ephemeral, is not superficial at all.
Why? It is for the reason that in the current day and age, ephemerality
is often mistaken for superficiality. Net.culture by default is
mercuric, and technoculture is typified by the fact that things like the
iPad and tablets have become nearly ubiquitous within two years of the
technology’s emergence. This is reflected in online culture, through the
torrent (pun intended) of images spilling through social media like
blogs, Facebook, image boards, and tumblrs like The New Aesthetic. Love
or hate it, what Bridle describes is a phenomenology of this torrent of
images as an aesthetic and their generation by technology. For this
month’s discussion on Empyre which will last only three weeks due to the
disappearance of a week in the black hole of the start of the academic
semester, we will have a floating group of key correspondents on the
subject who have been posting and publishing around the Net on The New
Week 1: Whither the New Aesthetic: Histories, Emergence, Context , Genres
(9/8-16, Michelle Kasprzak, Patrick Lichty and Jon Lebkowski)
In March 2012, Bruce Sterling set loose the meme of the New Aesthetic on
the mass blogosphere through his endnotes at SXSW, but James Bridle had
been looking at the idea for a year before. Where did The New Aesthetic
come from? Does it really exist, or is it a set of practices that think
about the current state of imaging? Or, is NA the outgrowth of
computational aesthetics born in the 60’s born through investigators
like A Michael Noll, and Ken Knowlton? Also, what are the ethical
concerns of NA, like the detached aesthetics of drone surveillance.
In addition, another question is whether NA is a set of aesthetic
practices rather than a unified movement, NA has been attached to
aesthetics like Lo-Fi, Glitch, DataViz, Robot Vision, and Drone
Surveillance. IS NA a cloud of practices, what are they, and if so,
where does it point?
Week 2: The New Aesthetic;: How Much Weirder Does It Need To Get?/Notes
on Banality/Eternal Newness
In the second year of discussion of The New Aesthetic, critical voices
emerged about the purported movement. Ian Bogost stated in The Atlantic
that NA “needs to get weirder”, Marius Watz critiqued NA as a site of
“Perpetual Newness”, and Robert Jackson looks at NA in terms of sheer
banality. What is evident is that NA has created conversation about
SOMETHING. What are the metanarratives that NA begs for us to address?
Is this the argument about New Media’s newness, the weirdness of
divergence from history, or the idea that a “movement” gets stumbled
upon in a blog?
Week 3: The New Aesthetic: Where To Go From Here?
In Patrick Lichty’s post at RealityAugmented, he muses whether the
nature of the movement is as ephemeral as online culture, and perhaps
interest in NA should be limited to a year (roughly March 2013).
Although this is an ironic statement, does NA have enough staying power
for lengthy cultural investigation, or will it blow away like a Facebook
post? Or, is it an indication of the shape of culture’s future….
This month’s September edition of –empyre The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like
Machines is moderated by Patrick Lichty (US)
http://www.patricklichty.com, Assistant Professor of Interactive Arts
and Media at Columbia College Chicago and Editor-in-Chief at Intelligent
Agent Magazine http://www.intelligentagent.com.
Rahel is co-editor at THE STATE. Her research focuses on the
intersections of magic, radical politics and future technologies. She is
currently based in Brooklyn.
David M. Berry
David M. Berry, born 1972, is a Lecturer in Media and Communication in
the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University.
He has published on intellectual property rights, ‘copyleft’ and
open-source software, Art and creativity, and the politics of code. His
book Copy, Rip, Burn: The Politics of Copyleft and Open Source was
published by Pluto Press in 2008. His next monograph is titled
Philosophy of Software: Code and Mediation in the Digital Age and will
be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.
Ina Blom is an art critic, curator and art historian. Since 2001 she has
been an Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Classics,
History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo, Norway, specialising
in modernism and avant-garde studies, and contemporary art and
aesthetics, with a particular focus on media art practices and media
aesthetics. A former music critic, she has also worked extensively as an
art critic and curator, contributing to frieze, Parkett, Afterall,
Artforumand Texte zur Kunst. Selected writings include: On the Style
Site; Art, Sociality and Television Culture (Sternberg Press, New York
2007); How to (not) Answer a Letter, The Postal Performance of Ray
Johnson's (MIT Press, Oslo / Kassel / Sittard, 2003); Joseph Beuys
(Gyldendal, Oslo, 2001).
Nick Briz is a new-media artist/writer/thinker/educator/organizer living
and working in Chicago, IL. I am co-organizer and co-founder of
GLI.TC/H, an international noise and [dirty] new-media
festival/conference/gathering. I also co-organize Upgrade!Chicago, a
monthly art and technology series held at the Nightingale Theater. As an
educator I've developed and taught courses on new-media art, Internet
art + culture[s], remix art + culture[s] and experimental music. I
develop digital/web/interactive projects for various clients with
Branger_Briz. My work has been exhibited at festivals and galleries
around the world including the FILE Media Arts Festival in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, the Sydney Underground Film Festival, the European
Media Arts Festival in Osnabruek, Germany, and the Images Festival in
Toronto, Canada. My video work is distributed through Video Out
Distribution in Vancouver, Canada as well as openly and freely on the web.
Amber Case is a cyborg anthropologist and the founder of Geoloqi, Inc.,
a company bringing the future of location to the world. She has been
featured in Forbes, WIRED, and many other publications, both in the
United States and around the world. Her main focus is mobile software,
non-visual augmented reality, the future of location, and reducing the
amount of time and space it takes for people to connect. Case has spoken
at TED on technology and humans and was featured in Fast Company 2010 as
one of the Most Influential Women in Technology. She’s worked with
Fortune 500 companies at Wieden+Kennedy and on major applications at
Vertigo Software. She was named one of National Geographic’s 2012
Emerging Explorers. She is @caseorganic on Twitter.
Marcelo Coelho is a designer and researcher whose work dwells in the
intersection of human-computer interaction, materials science and
design. He is an inventor of paper computers, shape changing composites,
interactive garments, and digital gastronomy.
Marcelo holds a BFA in Computation Arts, with highest honors, from
Concordia University in Montreal, where he was also a Research Partner
at XS Labs developing wearable technology and interactive textiles. He
is currently based in Cambridge, MA, where he is on leave from his
studio Zigelbaum + Coelho to complete his doctorate at the MIT Media Lab.
Marcelo’s work has been exhibited internationally, in venues such as Ars
Electronica, Design Miami/Basel, W Hotels, Societe des arts
technologiques, Gallerie Sequence, Digifest, Dutch Design Week,
Collision Collective and Seamless Fashion Show, and has won several
grants and awards, including Designer of the Future Award by Design
Miami/Basel, MIT Council for the Arts Grant, VAV production grant, US
National Congress on Computational Mechanics Award, Golden Key Visual &
Performing Arts Achievement Award, and CHI Best Video Golden Mouse Award.
Academically, Marcelo’s research has been widely published in books,
popular press and academic conferences such as SIGGRAPH, ISEA, ISWC,
Ubicomp, TEI and CHI.
Marcelo has given numerous classes, workshops and public lectures at
MIT, Fordham University, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, The
Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Banff New Media Institute and
Canada’s National Research Council. He currently co-teaches a course on
Techniques for Design and Fabrication at the MIT Media Lab with a focus
on interaction design and organizes the Transitive Materials workshops,
a series of multidisciplinary gatherings that bring together artists,
designers, scientists and researchers working at the shifting boundaries
between people, materials and computers.
Michael Dieter is a lecturer in New Media at the University of
Amsterdam. His current research interests focus on relations of art,
media, ecology and politics. He is a PhD scholar on contemporary
technoscientific art practices, entitled Reticular Aesthetics. His
publications have appeared in Fibreculture, M/C and the Australian
David Golumbia writes about contemporary digital culture and theory,
computational issues in philosophy, and linguistic diversity. He worked
as a software designer in the financial information industry in New York
City. He teaches in the Department of English and the PhD program in
Media, Art, and Text at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the
author of The Cultural Logic of Computation (Harvard UP, 2009) and of
many articles, and maintains the digital culture blog
http://uncomputing.org as well as the widely exhibited net.art project
Julia Kaganskiy is Global Editor of The Creators Project and organizes
The Creators Project meetups in NYC. She lives and breathes all things
art and technology. She's also the founder and organizer of the Arts,
Culture and Technology meetup and co-founder of Blue Box Gallery.
FastCompany once named her one of the "Most Influential Women in
Michelle Kasprzak is a Canadian curator and writer based in Amsterdam,
the Netherlands. She has appeared in Wired UK, on radio and TV
broadcasts by the BBC and CBC, and lectured at PICNIC. She founded one
of the world's leading art curating blogs, Curating.info. She has
written critical essays for Rhizome, CV Photo, Mute, Spacing, and many
other media outlets.
In 2006, she was awarded a curatorial research residency at the Nordic
Institute for Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland, in 2010 she
attended the Summer Seminars for Art Curators in Yerevan, Armenia, and
in 2011 was a guest of the BAM International Visitor’s Programme in
Flanders. She has a BFA in New Media (Ryerson University, 2000) and MA
in Visual and Media Arts (Université du Québec à Montréal, 2006).
The results of her curatorial work have appeared in venues worldwide.
Most recently, she co-curated Constellationswith Karen Gaskill, an
exhibition featuring artists Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Kitty Kraus, Katie
Paterson, and Takahiro Iwasaki at Cornerhouse in Manchester, UK. She has
also been appointed as part of the curatorial team for the 2012 ZER01
Biennial in San Jose, California.
Michelle is currently Curator at V2_ Institute for Unstable Media,
Project Director at McLuhan in Europe 2011, and a member of IKT
(International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art).
jon.lebkowsky at gmail.com
Jon Lebkowsky writes about culture, technology, media, sustainability
and other topics for various publications, and has been blogging
regularly since 2000. He's an acknowledged authority on social media and
In 1991 he cofounded the pioneering online company FringeWare, Inc., the
first company to attempt e-commerce. The company published the
influential magazine FringeWare Review, which had an international
distribution. he was involved in online community and e-commerce
projects throughout the 1990s, and worked with bOING bOING (as associate
editor for the original paper zine), HotWired, The Whole Earth Catalog,
Electric Minds, and many other web and cyberculture projects and
endeavors during the World Wide Web's first decade. In the late 90s, I
was actively involved in the creation of various e-commerce and
community initiatives for Whole Foods Market (and gained quite a few
pounds, for obvious reasons).
Patrick Lichty (b.1962) is a technologically-based conceptual artist,
writer, independent curator, animator for the activist group, The Yes
Men, co-founder of the virtual performance group, Second Front, and
Executive Editor of Intelligent Agent Magazine. He began showing
technological media art in 1989, and deals with works and writing that
explore the social relations between us and media. Venues in which
Lichty has been involved with solo and collaborative works include the
Whitney & Turin Biennials, Maribor Triennial, Performa Performance
Biennial, Ars Electronica, and the International Symposium on the
Electronic Arts (ISEA).
He also works extensively with virtual worlds, including Second Life,
and his work, both solo and with his performance art group, Second
Front, has been featured in Flash Art, Eikon Milan, and ArtNews.
He is also an Assistant Professor of Interactive Arts & Media at
Columbia College Chicago.
Joanne McNeil is a writer who has covered the intersection of technology
and culture for over a decade (back when there was a distinction.) As
Editor of Rhizome.org, she oversees all content published on Rhizome
News and the Rhizome blog. She commissions and edits features on art,
digital culture, new media, and gaming. She writes about a range of
subjects including augmented reality, copyright policy, the future of
publishing, and robotics. Her writing has appeared in Modern Painters,
Wired UK, The LA Times, the Paris Review Daily, The Boston Globe, n+1,
and other web and print publications. Previously, she founded and edited
the blog The Tomorrow Museum. She studied economics at George Mason
University, where she was a University Scholar. She met the Philip K.
Dick android before it lost its head.
Hrag Vartanian is editor of Hyperallergic and a member of the Triangle
Arts Association board.
He's a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and art critic who has written
extensively about street art, performance art, the internet and issues
of multiculturalism. He maintains a tumblelog notebook, called “A
Brooklyn Art Critic’s Notebook.” He tweets a lot.
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