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Genealogies of The New Aesthetic

Malcolm Levy & Christiane Paul

Christiane Paul

on 15 October 2017

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Transcript of Genealogies of The New Aesthetic

Genealogies of The New Aesthetic
Christiane Paul & Malcolm Levy
The New Aesthetic is not new (or it has always already been perpetually new). The fact that the NA has recently hit some sort of pop-meme coagulation tipping point (and acquired an ontological name) is merely evidence that technology has finally accumulated to the point of being easily and widely recognised as a collection of Tumblr images without needing to be supported or explained by any underlying theory whatsoever.
- Curt Cloninger
James Bridle
"Since May 2011 I have been collecting material which points towards new ways of seeing the world, an echo of the society, technology, politics and people that co-produce them."

"The New Aesthetic is not a movement, it is not a thing which can be done. It is a series of artefacts of the heterogeneous network, which recognises differences, the gaps in our overlapping but distant realities."

"The New Aesthetic is not criticism, but an exploration; not a plea for change, rather a series of reference points to the change that is occurring. An attempt to understand not only the ways in which technology shapes the things we make, but the way we see and understand them."

Bruce Sterling
"The New Aesthetic is image-processing for British media designers."

"This is the attempted imposition on the public of a new way of perceiving reality."

"The New Aesthetic concerns itself with 'an eruption of the digital into the physical.'"

"The 'New Aesthetic' is a native product of modern network culture. It’s from London, but it was born digital, on the Internet. The New Aesthetic is a 'theory object' and a 'shareable concept.'"

"The New Aesthetic is 'collectively intelligent.' It’s diffuse, crowdsourcey, and made of many small pieces loosely joined. It is rhizomatic, as the people at Rhizome would likely tell you. It’s open-sourced, and triumph-of-amateurs. It’s like its logo, a bright cluster of balloons tied to some huge, dark and lethal weight."

"It is generational. Most of the people in its network are too young to have been involved in postmodernity."

Sterling, Bruce, “An Essay on the New Aesthetic,” beyond the beyond, WIRED, April 2, 2012 http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic/
Curt Cloninger
If, according to Debord, ‘the spectacle is capital accumulated to such a degree that it becomes an image’, then the New Aesthetic is technology accumulated to such a degree that it becomes an image. The New Aesthetic (NA) image is a special kind of image – an image which is bodily, affectively sussable by humans.

The New Aesthetic is not a single aesthetic. Drone technology produces its own visual aesthetics. Google Maps produces its own visual aesthetics. Generative Processing code produces its own visual aesthetics. Glitches across various media, compression algorithms, and hardware displays produce their own visual aesthetics.

Cloninger, Curt, “Manifesto for a Theory on the New Aesthetic,” MUTE, October 3, 2012, http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/manifesto-theory-‘new-aesthetic’
Visual Genealogies
glitch aesthetics / corruption artifacts / data-mashed video frames
machine vision (drone imagery / satellite views / surveillance cameras)
information visualization / generative / algorithmic art

architectural entourage (render ghosts)
parametric architecture / voxelated 3D pixels in real-world geometries
Theoretical & Philosophical
Perception / Psychology
Systems / Aesthetics
Politics of Vision / Image
Aesthetics of Mediation
Phenomenology /
to trace the multiple art-historical and theoretical influences that informed the imagery, definitions, and statements accumulated in James Bridle's New Aesthetics Tumblr

to unpack the collage of images and influences on Bridle's Tumblr and tracks the visual and theoretical histories of all of these areas throughout the 20th century, creating a lineage for practices, artifacts, and their aesthetics.

Form: Prezi, essay
Genealogy: Nam June Paik, Dan Sandin, 5Voltcore
demo scene / retro 8bit graphics
robotics / machines: Tinguely / Ihnatowicz / Cybernetic Serendipity
software vision
(pre face recognition etc.)
generative algorithmic -> Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Roman Verostko, Harold Cohen, Chuck Csuri, Herbert Franke, Frieder Nake (The Algorists - http://www.verostko.com/algorist.html), Ernest Edmonds, George Legrady
the Internet of Things
Sigmund Freud, The "Uncanny" (1919)
"New Aesthetic images are uncanny (unheimlich, un-homelike). [...]
We recognise ourselves in NA images, but also something other than ourselves; or rather, still ourselves – but ourselves complicated, enmeshed, othered."
-Curt Cloninger
Norbert Wiener, "Men, Machines, and the World About" (1954)
J.C.R. Licklider, "Man-Computer Symbiosis" (1960)
Jack Burnham, "Systems Esthetics" (1968)
Human-Machine Interface
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (1967)
"This is the principle of commodity fetishism, the domination of society by "intangible as well as tangible things," which reaches its absolute fulfillment in the spectacle, where the tangible world is replaced by a selection of images which exist above it, and which simultaneously impose themselves as the tangible par excellence."
"If, according to Debord, ‘the spectacle is capital accumulated to such a degree that it becomes an image,’ then the New Aesthetic is technology accumulated to such a degree that it becomes an image. The New Aesthetic (NA) image is a special kind of image – an image which is bodily, affectively sussable by humans."
- Curt Cloninger
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975)
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (1927)
Denis McManus, Vorhandenheit and Zuhandenheit Revisited
"Graham Harman interprets Heidegger's vorhandenheit (presence-at-hand) as an eruption of the thing out of its normal function in the world (its normal function is zuhandenheit, ‘readiness-to-hand’). The thing was there all along; but we never saw it this way until now. This eruption is a useful way of understanding NA images.
NA images are visual eruptions of everyday functioning systems in the world, systems humans never saw in this way until now. [...]
New Aesthetic visuals don't necessarily ‘reveal’ a hidden ‘truth’. It's not as if readiness-to-hand is false and presence-at-hand is true, or vice versa. They are just two simultaneous ways of being in the world."
- Curt Cloninger
Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, Timothy Morton, Ian Bogost et al., OOO (Object-Oriented Ontology)
"[T]his Alien Aesthetics would not try to satisfy our human drive for art and design, but to fashion design fictions that speculate about the aesthetic judgments of objects. If computers write manifestos, if Sun Chips make art for Doritos, if bamboo mocks the bad taste of other grasses--what do these things look like? Or for that matter, when toaster pastries convene conferences or write essays about aesthetics, what do they say, and how do they say it?"
- Ian Bogost
Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology or What It's Like to Be a Thing (2012)

Christian S. G. Katti and Bruno Latour, Mediating Political "Things," and the Forked Tongue of Modern Culture: A Conversation with Bruno Latour in Art Journal, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Spring, 2006), pp. 94-115
"… transition from an object-oriented to a systems-oriented culture. Here change emanates not from things but from the way things are done. … A systems viewpoint is focused on the creation of stable, ongoing relationships between organic and non-organic systems, be these neighborhoods, industrial complexes, farms, transportation systems, information centers or any other of the matrixes of human activity."
- Jack Burnham
Bruno Latour, On actor-network theory. A few clarifications plus more than a few complications
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1935)

Bill Nichols, "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems" (1988)

Douglas Davis, "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction" (An Evolving Thesis: 1991-1995)
Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (1929)
Digital Aesthetics
computable -- determined by numerical methods and mathematics (divisible into
small units)
time-based -- requiring an extended viewing period (as video, performance)
non-linear -- assemblage (with or without interaction) in new configurations:
recombinant aesthetics
real-time -- relying on instantaneous communication processes or constructing
themselves “on the fly”
algorithmic -- requiring a certain media literacy with regards to the rules of
generative -- able to self-produce
automated -- new balances between authorship and programmability
interactive -- new media works require an understanding of response as a medium
aesthetics of the characteristics of the digital medium
aesthetics of forms of the medium
(networked) installation
net art / networked art
'software art'
virtual / mixed / augmented reality
locative media art
network evolution
Blast Theory, "Can you see Me Now?" (2001 -)
ManifestAR, "We AR at MoMA)"
Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico, "Face to Facebook"
Hito Steyerl, HOW NOT TO BE SEEN
why have technological developments over the past century now reached a tipping point where they become a (pop)cultural meme and images and their underlying aesthetics are widely recognized as "new"?

can the so-called new aesthetic offer a new way of understanding aesthetics on the basis of evolving subject-object relationships?
why genealogies? does the new aesthetics try to arrive at a radical questioning of aesthetics itself through a flattening of history and genealogies?

history and aesthetics have to be seen in the context of social functionality (which resists flattening)
Immersive Labs Intelligent Billboards at SXSW
Clement Valla, Postcards from Google Earth
converging realities
Edward Ihnatowicz, The Senster (1970)
Vladimir Bonacic,
(1969 - 1971)
Nam June Paik,
Participation TV

(1969, replica 1984)
Nam June Paik, Wobbulator
(with Shuya Abe, 1970s)
Dan Sandin, Image Processor (1971-73)
Shockbot Corejulio
Amy Alexander, Wojciech Kosma, Vincent Rabaud, Jesse Gilbert, and Nikhil Rasiwasia,
SVEN -Surveillance Video Entertainment Network
Edward Ihnatowicz, SAM
A.Michael Noll, Computer composition
with lines (1964)
RomanVerostko, Algorithmic
Pen Drawing (1987)
Artificial Mondrian (1967) Rendered in Gouache on paper
Frieder Nake,
13/9/65 Nr. 2

("Hommage à Paul Klee")
Genealogies of The New Aesthetic
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