Tuesday, April 03, 2012


We're in the middle of a blind spot in time, and everyone's mad about it. Science fiction's move toward the present leaves a lack of inspiration for real-world innovators, as Neal Stephenson noticed. Russell Davies sees it in fashion, too, in all that military-derived heritage wear. NASA can't launch a man into space, let alone the moon, anymore. Neil DeGrasse Tyson weeps for the future. Is this a Great Stagnation, or are we just having an idea breather before coming up with the new New New Thing?

Well, Chairman Bruce thinks these New Aesthetic kids have caught onto something, with their See Like a Machine, pixellated reality follies. It's the opposite, or maybe just the next iteration of the blobject; it's the incursion of mobile screens into the 3D world. James Bridle is the theorist, or maybe just the blogger, behind the movement, but the core inspiration is Minecraft. Will we be wearing 8bit pixelpunk clothes to our New Aesthetic get-together at the next SXSW? Who knows. I just like the bright colors.


Look at those images objectively. Scarcely one of the real things in there would have made any sense to anyone in 1982, or even in 1992. People of those times would not have known what they were seeing with those New Aesthetic images. It’s the news, and it’s the truth...

It’s contemporary. It’s temporal rather than atemporal. Atemporality is all about cerebral, postulated, time-refuting design-fictions. Atemporality is for Zenlike gray-eminence historian-futurist types. The New Aesthetic is very hands-on, immediate, grainy and evidence-based. Its core is a catalogue of visible glitches in the here-and-now, for the here and for the now.

It requires close attention. If you want to engage with the New Aesthetic, then you must become involved with some contemporary, fast-moving technical phenomena. The New Aesthetic is inherently modish because it is ferociously attached to modish, passing objects and services that have short shelf-lives. There is no steampunk New Aesthetic and no remote-future New Aesthetic. The New Aesthetic has no hyphen-post, hyphen-neo or hyphen-retro. They don’t go there, because that’s not what they want.

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