On the New Aesthetic, and Laziness

Will Wiles offers some salient observations on the ‘New Aesthetic‘, countering some of the more short-sighted and blunt critiques (generally from art and architecture directions) that the New Aesthetic’s role was just as a collection of glitchy tech-artifacts, and that *yawn* we’d seen it all before in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

Talking about Bruce Sterling, and helping define what role the ‘New Aesthetic’ might serve, this passage perhaps best sums up its potential value: “He called it a ‘gaudy, networked heap’, and better than that, a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities — geodes, two-headed lambs, bits of coral — that were assembled by hungry minds in Enlightenment Europe. The wunderkammer is part of the first act of modern science — astonishment at the oddities of the natural world, which whets the appetite for inquiry. ‘A heap of eye-catching curiosities don’t constitute a compelling world-view,’ Sterling wrote. Perhaps not, but it’s a start.”

Mariuz Watz, in the video below, does a good job of addressing this issue. He also rather succinctly addresses algorithmic laziness, but what I think is useful is that this critique could be applied to any creative technique or tool, applied unthinkingly. The same goes for assuming that the New Aesthetic’s only value is as a sort of visual amalgam of modern digital ephemera, rather than as a signpost for a way of processing the world that has further to run and far greater depths to be investigated. All these tools, collections and observations offer us a lot, but only if we thinkingly engage with them, use them as a starting point, and make up the distance ourselves.

Eyeo2012 – Marius Watz from Eyeo Festival on Vimeo.

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