[-empyre-] The New Aesthetic - questions and conclusions

Bishop Zareh xchicago at gmail.com
Sun Sep 30 06:34:35 EST 2012

Bruce Sterling's original NA article spends more time describing what NA is not, so there is quite-a-bit of open space when discussion what NA is.

When the new aesthetic.tumblr blog first went dark, I started my own attempt to articulate an NA curation:

I'm sure I have a different take than James Bridle, and there is no question that I have certain visual proclivities, however the phrase "Navigating Density" has helped me to sort out the placement of NA, at least in my own head.

I think NA tries to be a cross-scale aesthetic. I would describe it as an attempt to identify and articulate the changes in aesthetics, art and consciousness, due to the ever increasing changes in our technological, economic and political environments.

Humans change, fast and faster these days, and I see NA as one attempt to describe those changes and what they suggest about our respective disciplines.

In that way, I see NA as a response to 'drowning in information'. Sterling made careful steps to commend New Media and glitch practices while conceptually separating them from nostalgia systems like 8-bit. I think a large part of what Sterling said was about the confusing landscapes between art and commerce, the strange interplay of craftsmanship, commercial innovation and the regime of signs.

Everything requires further explanation, and this is just the problem right here. The last century of academics will be the last academics to have the hubris to think that they 'have it all covered' and are just 'working out the details'. From Manuel DeLanda's latest book, "If scientists had to build models that captured all scales simultaneously no scientific field would ever succeed in explaining anything." Imo, the same could be true of artists and ministers as well.

NA is the first to offer any real hope of humans withstanding the coming onslaught of information. More than simply 'a light at the end of the tunnel,'  NA offers a theory that even in the face of extreme complexity, even when science and technology have surpassed their ability to model and explain our situation, aesthetics can still offer perceptual maps that provide predictive conscious value.

What does it look like? It can look like most anything depending on the scale. NA specifies neither content nor context, but can exchange one for the other by simply shifting scales; thus NA teaches us about systems, enabling us to generically express beautiful and bewildering insights though any style or medium.

So, What does it look like? From a visual, cinematographic viewpoint, I think NA is trying to align glitch-hacker-make technology with popular aesthetics by providing some general principles that allow artists to speak in many languages or contexts at once. NA differs from Ameture Media but can employ it, NA might also employ Hollywood polish or FED style authenticity. In this way NA disconnects medium from the message, making artists more into storytellers than artisans.

What is the best NA artworks? Whose on first? I'd put Prix Ars out there:
Pixar in 1987, Wikipedia in 1995, Wikileaks in 2009

Whose after next?

On Sep 29, 2012, at 7:47 AM, Rob Myers wrote:

> On 09/28/2012 03:22 PM, Jon Lebkowsky wrote:
>> I think NA so far is more acknowledgement than movement, more
>> curation  than active construction. What would it take to transform NA from
>> passive to active force? Or does it make more sense to look for activist
>> forces to emerge?
> TNA is managerial capital's digital bleedthrough into the everyday. Things finding their own use for the street. It's something that you experience rather than do. It's something to ironise [further] rather than embrace directly IMO.
> TNA is a quantitative shift big enough to represent a qualitative shift. We weren't doing this in the gallery and in the faculty twenty years ago because it wasn't the pervasive aesthetic epiphenomena of logistics technology.
> With regards to "cool", the TNA tumblr can be certainly be seen as design fiction cool hunting (Bigend would love it). But the history of the creation and instrumentalization of cool (pace Liu) sits productively uncomfortably with this particular distillation of cool.
> The question that TNA cries out is "why does the world look like this"? The answers are obvious, but the devil is in how we cross-reference the details.
> - Rob.
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