[-empyre-] The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Thu Sep 13 22:56:09 EST 2012

Well, I actually see a lot of The New Aesthetic, as with much of what is happening in New Media blogjournalism as being infinitely strategic/self-reflexive.  There are many examples for evidence of cultural entrepreneurism/branding, not just in the blogs, but also with the tech/craft cluster of Make, Makerbot/Sparkfun/evilmadscentist/adafruit.  The fact that so many of us hve flocked to kickstarter is talked about in the NYT:

All right - this potentially bifurcates the conversation.  Is NA actually a cultural branding scheme meant to capitalize through recognition or whatnot the idea od a disparate set of machine imaging practices, or is it a rigorous curatorial statement? 

This might be a little polemic, but I might say it could be a little of both.  

However, I am interested in what, as a curatorial vision, NA seeks to accomplish as a serious curatorial statement.

If we want to talk about NA as a cultural placement strategy for James Bridle, we can do that, but I think it is much less interesting.

For example, in my Robotics class this semester, we are building a UAV to create drone art.  Fortunately this is so far off my colleagues' radars that they're not commenting much.  I think that if they realized that I'm trying to to do drone art in the heart of a major city, they would probably have an aneurism.  But I think this is the bleeding edge of NA.

Patrick Lichty
Intelligent Agent Magazine
c/o Columbia College Chicago
916/1000 S. Wabash Ave #104
Chicago, IL USA 60605
"Better to live on your feet than to die on your knees."
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of mez breeze [netwurker at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 6:44 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines

Nice timing, seeing Bridle has reactivated the New Aesthetic tumblr in the last two weeks or so.

The more I think about NA, the more I'm inclined to ponder whether Bridle is using it as an adjunct promotional strategy that mimics start-up/entrepreneurial frameworks: grab a manifest-yet-still-edge-worthy-to-some spinable idea, run it through a concept grinder and link it with a delivery system (in this case, the dangling carrot-bait of merging digital concepts with physical that theorists/academics/creatives/intellectuals just can't resist, with high profile figures being drawn to pontification + publicizing). This "debate bait" then actualises as an emergent discourse with assured (built-in) funding/exposure strategies through clever generation of its own marketing/PR machine - complete with monetisation through conference creation + academic publications/hype/circuit creation - rather than it acting to ideologically frame a legitimately culturally relevant paradigm that highlights "new" corresponding forms of cultural interpretations regarding the fusion of the digital and physical?

I'm not trying to assert that Bridle is intentionally aping this entrepreneurial strategy, but just having a quick examination of his previous attempts to kick-start (using this term in an oldskool sense, not in the crowdfunding model sense) buzz-worthy/coinable frames of reference such as his 2010 labelling attempt: "I want to give it a name, and at this point I’m calling it Network Realism" http://booktwo.org/notebook/network-realism/, or ideas evidenced on his "hand-drawn" website: http://shorttermmemoryloss.com/moleskine/ to his audition "tape" for TED2013: http://talentsearch.ted.com/video/James-Bridle-A-new-aesthetic-fo makes me curious?

And if Bridle is indeed covertly emulating an entrepreneurial model, and is in fact a concept-"manifestering" mastermind, we're all playing our roles perfectly, with me more than most: http://www.facebook.com/TheNewAesthetic.


| http://www.vizify.com/mez-breeze
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On Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 4:48 AM, Patrick Lichty <plichty at colum.edu<mailto:plichty at colum.edu>> wrote:
September on –empyre soft-skinned space: The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines

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

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 Aesthetic.

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