[NetBehaviour] Reflections on the _New Aesthetic_

Pall Thayer pallthay at gmail.com
Thu Apr 19 02:14:39 CEST 2012

Here's my knee-jerk reaction to a possible knee-jerk reaction. I think
we have this tendency to dislike the word "new" in any label (that's
the other knee-jerk reaction). Having only skimmed Bruce Sterling's
essays as well, I'm always skeptical when it comes to the term "new".
Especially when combined with a term that I personally think is often
misunderstood, like "aesthetic". If you look up "aesthetic" in the
dictionary, it will probably tell you that it has something to do with
"beauty". But in a philosophical context, it really has very little to
do with beauty. It has more to do with tastes and interest. Being
drawn to something regardless of whether a person is drawn due to a
sense of beauty, revulsion or something in-between.

So, let's think about this. "Aesthetic" refers to a "sensibility", so
"New Aesthetic" would mean that we've developed a new sensibility(?).
Is that really the case? Let's take the "glitch". When things don't
perform as they should, is the notion that we might be aesthetically
drawn to that really something new? I don't know about others but I
always find it very curious when something "glitches". It peaks my
curiosity. So, is the "New Aesthetic", as it pertains to the "glitch",
really a "new" aesthetic or does it simply exploit an existing
aesthetic? Art is not something that re-invents itself periodically.
It's more like an evolving being. Nothing is "new" but rather a
progression of the things that came before it. How about "Next

Keep in mind that I'm just entertaining a brain-drain here. Maybe I
should read the Bruce Sterling essays.

On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 7:28 PM, mez breeze <netwurker at gmail.com> wrote:
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Find below a modded version of part of the discussion raging on an alternate
> list regarding the "New Aesthetic". Enjoy [or don't].
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In an effort to keep this manageable [lump me into one of your keeerazzzy
> glitch/net.art/web-point-
> infinity/relational & new aesthetically-defined "artistic" categories if you
> will] here's some [non-random + IMO relevant but not necessarily cohesive]
> points:
> 1. I've only skimmed the Bruce Sterling essays [both of them] and don't have
> an in-depth overview of the term "New Aesthetic" [henceforth now to be known
> as "Phrase That Will Not Be Named" in an effort to reduce the ridiculous
> amount of verification we are bubble-developing around it]. So there.
> 2. My flickering attention-focus [hullo, continuous partial attn syndrome]
> has honed in on this particular attempt at avant-garde labelling because of
> how it perpetuates the tradition of "name the new art phase in order to
> perform/get x" [whether x = ego aggrandisement/monetary wealth/extend an
> individuals prosperity>cred value]. To employ a relevant phrase: it just
> smells wrong. And by smelling wrong I'm in no way referring to Bridle or his
> content [I have been rss_internalising his tumblr for some time now = it
> rawks: though I had no idea of his name until this whole labelling
> blerghness blew up] or any other glitch-luvin' practitioners or creative
> types. After all, I'm one of them.
> 3. My seeming lack of attention to research regarding the "Phrase That Will
> Not Be Named", or lack of "deep (articulated) thought" regarding the issue
> isn't indicative of a negative outlook on "the glitch". Nor is it due to
> lack of engagement with the actual material/pulsing creative output that's
> [possibly, hopefully] superseding many flattened contemporary "art scenes"
> [read: institutions as opposed to practices]. My lack of focused attention
> is due to the fact that *i'm_actually_living_the_aesthetic_in_question* +
> have been for years [New? bah!]. The life of a "Phrase That Will Not Be
> Named" advocate *requires* continuous partial attention: it *requires* a
> profound adherence to deriving substantiated [yet seemingly ephemeral]
> meaning from "the now" [ie connective novelty formation, expressive +
> anonymous appropriation devoid of ego/exclusive monetisation, the continuous
> fact of networked/communication immediacy/recursion, a burgeoning
> maker/hacktivist practice-aesthetic, the growing irrelevancy of standardised
> content/institutionalised values + associated comprehension loadings].
> Dragging an antiquated, faux-trendoid label and slapping it over set of
> practices that have been in operation for as long as directed digital
> communication/tech platforms have coalesced = bad whiff, not to mention
> downright offensive. It's the problem of seeking to stuff uncategorised,
> non-art-defined forms into format [+ vice versa], of assigning crusty
> paradigms/terms to output [like Bridle + his tumblr] that's being subsumed
> into a discourse designed to pinpoint/catalogue/perpetuate. Drawing a
> [restrictive labelling] box around a set of expression[s] that exist as
> working practices seems like inverse encouragement: this disappointing need
> to contextualise>label>scene-create>institutionalise>monetise = sad[panda
> making. Google "sad panda" if you don't get the reference].
> 4. Content curation isn't art. The urge to perform it may be similar to what
> drives artists to produce: in many cases, content curation is a ceaseless
> search for connection through firehosed content streams/"novelty"
> verification that may just ellipse the need for art/culture classifications.
> Is it possible to conceptualise a world where the need to frame
> practice/process/product through cultural or artistic filters is largely
> obsolete? [reddit.com + 4chan.org + 9gag.com + tumblr.com = giving it a
> decent go.]
> 5. Appropriating + remixing graphic markers/standards from marginalised or
> "other-fied" disciplines/decades does not a new genre/paradigm make,
> especially when begging to be [or deliberately engineered to be] monetised
> by a system and/or individuals determined to emergent-capture [yes, this
> includes institutionally sanctioned galleries + alternative galleries +
> oldschool curators + newskool aggregators + conference-merry-go-rounders +
> theorists + panels + karma-seeking discourse boffins]. Codify, hipsterise +
> aggrandise at your leisure, but be prepared for watered-down, digestible,
> bastardised versions of worthwhile social + expressive currencies.
> 6. And so it goes.
> 7. This too will pass.
> [Mostly-too-large-2-chew]Chunks,
> Mez/@netwurker
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Pall Thayer

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