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

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Fri Sep 14 17:21:07 EST 2012

Dear <<empyreans>>,

David, there's nothing obscure about computational systems of control 
where the deus ex machina is a counting machine and a graphing machine.

Mez, I enjoyed your breakdown of the self-promotion across academic / 
theoretical / technical lines implicit in the New Aesthetics. I think 
also that the ad hominem aspect needs to be addressed simply because 
part of the disease is the production of culpable subjects. Is there 
anything disinterestedly stand-alone in the concept? New Aesthetic?

I can't see anything particularly admirable in it myself, but then... 
the old aesthetics seems to me to be a grabfest at the process of the 
new. Which it never quite gets.



> David
> On 13 Sep 2012, at 13:56, "Lichty, Patrick" <plichty at colum.edu 
> <mailto:plichty at colum.edu>> 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.
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> ---
> Dr. David M. Berry
> Senior Lecturer in Digital Media
> (Associate Professor in Media Studies)
> Department of Political and Cultural Studies
> Swansea University
> Singleton Campus
> Swansea
> SA2 8PP
> Tel: 01792 602633
> http://www.swan.ac.uk/staff/academic/ArtsHumanities/berryd/
> Room: Room JC015, James Callaghan Building
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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