Monday, December 1, 2014

The New Aesthetic: The Great Pretenders


Let me begin by stating that I have not had such difficulty assimilating the contents of an article in quite some time. I am referencing the WIRED article written in 2012 by Bruce Sterling titled An Essay on the New Aesthetic.  As I read, I found it difficult to keep up with all of the various and turbulent metaphors in the reading.  It was like watching a bouncing super ball in a concrete room. Did you see what I did there? I began to wonder if in fact Bruce Sterling really knew what he was trying to talk about in his descriptions of the New Aesthetic.  I managed to gather a few key points from his essay that make an attempt at defining the New Aesthetic. The article is older, but the ideas presented are timeless.
The New Aesthetic is according to Sterling;
  • A creative movement
  • A Collective
  • Internet based
  • Built by and for working creatives
All very true points, I like to take this one step further and say that not only is it these descriptive terms but the New Aesthetic also has a TECHNICAL DYNAMIC to it.  It is an ever changing design faction of technically professional people and their ideas all trapped within the semantic web. Sterling makes note of the traditional definition of aesthetics as being how beauty is perceived by the human senses and says that no amount of programming or data beautification will put the human in the New Aesthetic.  That the human side can only go so far to create a new technology, or art from that technology.  
The machine, by itself cannot create.  Artificial intelligence isn’t going to happen.
This idea, gives credence to the thought that the New Aesthetic is therefore different than any other movement in the history of movements. Other art movements by comparison were created by visual artists using tools to propel design into new eras. People were behind the brushes, and ink blotted presses and their works were visible and understood by all.  I think that the New Aesthetic might be faulty as it takes a highly technical knowledge to visualize and understand the output of a New Aesthetic visual creative.  While it is created as open source and highly visible to the entire world, people may not have an understanding of what is being presented to them.  Coders and designers understand it perfectly, the other billion people around the world might not.  So IS the New Aesthetic really happening or is it just a small segment of creative people that are becoming the great pretenders?  The great pretenders that have created and coded themselves into positions in the workforce over the years so much that they have grown bored with their cubicles and feel the need to stretch their creative wings by starting a New Aesthetic. That remains to be seen, but Sterling does say that The New Aesthetic is here to stay and the niche is gaining momentum so fast.  I for one, am excited to see what comes next.
I do think about the previous art movements and how each had it's own definitions and sets of individuals working on creating sort of an outline of what each movement would be. There are clear definitions and clear rules of applying a particular technique for the movement.  With the New Aesthetic, there are none.  This may be what Sterling was trying to say in his article, that because the New Aesthetic is so different and includes new methods of creation that there really is not a definition that fits. It is vague and far reaching and ever inclusive of new technologies that change constantly.  If we were to assign a new 'movement' to every new technological development we would find tat movements would overlap and cross over and lines would blur as a result.
So until the thinkers and the tech tinkerers get together to formulate an ideology of the New Aesthetic we are left to try and discern genre and movement on our own. We will see where the technology takes us.

Please take a moment to view just what examples of the new aesthetic are at the tumblr site that Sterling shared with us!

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