[NetBehaviour] Not Now James, We're Busy

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Sat Apr 21 17:08:52 CEST 2012


This post does not include the phrase "frantic academic clopping".

James Bridle's "Where The F**k Was I?" (2011) is a book containing 202 
maps depicting his movements over the previous year. The maps were 
produced using OpenStreetMap (2004) to plot the secret location database 
that iPhones (2007) had been discovered to be keeping (April 2011). It 
is printed as a hardback book using Lulu (2002), although images from it 
can be seen on flickr (2004).

In writing about this project, Bridle reflects on the impact of 
discovering that he was being spied on and takes this as a leaping off 
point for wider and deeper reflection on the nature of memory and of the 
mediation of experience by technology. In doing so he discusses 
contemporary art, contemporary literature, and contemporary 
cybercultural theory.

I would like to make two points about this project.

The first is that it would have been impractical before 2007, and 
unnecessary before 2011. I appreciate that in the 1990s JODI were 
multi-billion-dollar companies profiting from pervasive digital devices 
and logistics that meant the virtual tail of the 
military-industrial-fashion complex was wagging the actual dog of 
society in ways that were bleeding through into everyday experience, but 
I think we all have to admit that they didn't have a Tumblr (2007).

The second is that the project is a serious and literate consideration 
of personal experience as shaped by our present situation that uses 
aesthetics not due to Theoretic inarticulacy but precisely to 
communicate the full impact of its subject effectively.

I am arguing that Bridle's project of The New Aesthetic (TNA) is indeed 
considering both the new and the aesthetic, and that both these aspects 
of it are critically valuable and cannot be reduced to historical or 
textual surrogates.

My favourite responses to TNA so far have been:

David Berry critiquing Object Oriented Philosophical approaches to TNA 
and providing three different ways of considering it that come from 
within cyberculture -


Saul Albert providing some very useful historical comparisons to net.art -


And Honor Harger pointing out the gap between the straw man of TNA that 
many people are attacking and what it actually is -


- Rob.

More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list