[-empyre-] The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Machines - "Drones at Home"

rrdominguez2 rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Thu Sep 13 23:35:18 EST 2012

Hola all,

While I am not sure to what degree NA is participating in dronology-it 
probably does have connections to the same machinic market in general 
and to
the wider frame of cultural optics that our feral drones bring home to 
us, as well as, the "bleeding edge" of the kill lists that we have 
sanctioned as well. Perhaps NA is
seeing like machines and making a killing like machines. But what is the 
aesthetic sense or riff that can constitute a critical optics between 
the speed and inertia
of the dronology rather than just the lure of the "new." For me this 
question is always a difficult one and one that must be done with others 
artists on multiple scales.

Here is a current drone project that is coming to an end this Fall 2012 
at gallery at calit2:

"Drones at Home," a new exhibition opening at the gallery at calit2 March 7 
2012, explores the strange allure of drones and the push for their 
domestication — by governments, corporations, and everyday citizens.

"Home" is understood at multiple scales: At the level of the individual, 
backyard, community, border region, and homeland. The San Diego region 
is featured prominently and regional issues are explored as exemplars of 
global phenomena. The exhibition also departs from any strict 
interpretation of the form that a drone must take; the project expands 
on the "unmanned" nature of the drone as symbolic of a larger condition 
-- ecologies where the status of the human is called into question, 
distributed and embedded in a wider field of shared intelligence.

"Drones at Home" will be presented in three phases. Phase 1 includes an 
exhibition; Phase 2 consists of panels and a workshop; and Phase 3, 
which continues through the summer, will include the creation of new 
drone projects in collaboration with invited artists and research groups 
at the University of California, San Diego division of the California 
Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). 
Co-curated by Sheldon Brown, Jordan Crandall and Ricardo Dominguez, this 
first phase will feature the work of Matthew Battles, Trevor Paglen, The 
Periscope Project, Alex Rivera and Angel Nevarez, along with additional 
work drawn from research in the field.

Short video of Phase 1:


More videos (Phase 2 Panels etc.,) here:


We are excited about the Phase 3 projects coming soon.

Very best,

On 9/13/12 5:56 AM, Lichty, Patrick wrote:
> 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:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/opinion/sunday/the-entrepreneurial-generation.html?pagewanted=all
> 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
> Editor-in-Chief
> 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.
> Chunks,
> Mez
> | http://www.vizify.com/mez-breeze
> | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mez_Breeze
> 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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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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> .

Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2

email: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

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