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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  April 2012

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING April 2012

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Subject:

Re: belatedly new

From:

Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 11:13:56 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Hi Sarah (and all),

I like that Sterling brings up Surrealism and Situationism. The 
surrealist celebration of intuitive human subconsciousness turned out 
to be vacuous. Arguably (and Sterling fails to mention this), the 
Situationist celebration of an intuitive, desire-driven drift through 
the gridded, spectacular city also turned out to be vacuous -- all 
"intuitive" paths turn out to be subconsciously braded vectors 
leading toward (or "oppositionally" away from) Starbucks. (Dada 
critiques both presuppositions, but contains its own critiquable 
presuppositions as well.)

Personally (and I'm not a curator), I wonder if it is going far 
enough to merely aggregate and celebrate new looking stuff because it 
is new looking stuff. Ryder Ripps says he always wants to see new 
images, and there are new images on the web daily. OK... next? The 
mere production, aggregation, consumption, and celebration of new 
images seems more like a promising start than a satisfactory end in 
and of itself.  It is fascinating and significant that the machines 
and networks we are currently using wind up generating images with a 
(human-recognizably) "new" visual, textural, "aesthetic" sheen. 
(Actually, it's not a single sheen. There are dozens of different 
sheens.)  More fruitful questions:
1. How are these aesthetic sheens related to their processes of production?
2. How are their processes of production related to human-beingness 
and object-beingness in the world?
3. How might we allow these new sheens to re-tool our prior human 
criteria of "aesthetics?"

To fail to ask these questions leads to a kind of reversion toward 
evaluating these new image as discrete, hermetic, "aesthetic" objects 
rather than as the residue/result of a series of cultural processes, 
networks, and relationships (which is what images have always been, 
and what these new images particularly are).

The complexity of tracing/delineating Latourean (or Whiteheadean) 
networks of vast entanglement can cause humans (particularly 
non-theoretically inclined humans) to throw up their hands, abandon 
rigor, and simply celebrate the pure aesthetic pleasure of new forms 
of visuality. BUT... do increasingly complex systems 
finally/ultimately overwhelm/exhaust the need for theoretical 
thinking and propel us forward (backward) into a carefree curatorial 
age of positivist pop fashion, OR.. do they prompt and give-rise to 
newer, more nible (yea, even "funner") critical curatorial ways of 
investigating/provoking?



Here are two things I've written previously on other topics that seem relevant:

///////////////////////////////////////////

1. On "surf clubs" (relevant to tumblr-ing new visual aesthetics):
I find a lot of surf club "work" not so much pathos-inducing as 
"pathetic" (and not necessarily in a derogatory sense). It feels kind 
of like gleeful children making absurd sculptures out of strewn body 
parts in a land-mined field that they have always known, a field 
inherited from a war they can't remember. All very post-Dada. If 
[Joseph] Cornell's work enacts the slippages of memory; then artistic 
surfng enacts the manic, doomed attempt to manufacture any kind of 
memory at all in the fluorescent light of an eternally modern present.

This fetishistic fascination with junk has its promising aspects and 
its dangerous pitfalls. When done well, this kind of surfing plunges 
into the stream of corporate detritus, inflecting and modulating it 
from within (it tactically enacts and externalizes ways of 
connecting). When done poorly, this kind of surfing lapses into a 
kind of banal wallowing whose wakes are no more transformative than 
the original detritus through which they move (it simply becomes 
about a fetishistic love of junk). As George Santayana wryly 
observes, "Americans love junk; it's not the junk that bothers me, 
it's the love."

+++++++++++++++++

2. On "glitch art" (relevant to curating new visual aesthetics):
Glitch Your Own Criteria of Glitch Reception

There are two main categories -- signal vs. noise. Signal has two 
sub-categories: signals that matter vs. signals that don't. Likewise, 
noise also has two sub-categories: glitches that are worth 
pursing/keeping/archiving/posting/claiming vs. glitches that get 
edited/ignored/not captured. The glitch artist and the "wild glitch" 
collector are their own curators at every turn -- deciding which 
outcomes to keep and which to ignore; but...

1. Based on what criteria? Based on marvel, surprise, authenticity 
(unstaged-ness [related to surprise]), messed-up-ness, kitschy 
retro-ness, "beauty," promise/fruitfulness (a potential to lead 
somewhere new)?

2. How can we glitch our own criteria of glitch reception? How can we 
glitch ourselves so that we don't always select the same old 
glitches? Cagean aleatoric systems? Oulipean systems of constraint? 
Collaborative systems?

Warning: there are some inherent problems when glitching your own 
"aesthetic" criteria. At some point you are going to have to fall 
back on meta-criteria in order to determine whether your newly 
glitched aesthetics are aesthetically successful. It is a bit like 
shooting at a moving target, like using drugs and then trying to 
objectively evaluate the effect of the drugs while you are still on 
drugs.

///////////////////////////////////////////

Best,
Curt



>Hi CRUMBsters
>
>I would welcome opinions on this question of 'the new aesthetic' 
>from those on here who know more about it than I do.
>Was anyone on the list at the South by Southwest panel a month ago now?
>
>I am intrigued by Bruce Sterling's article
>http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic/#comments
>
>It is reminiscent of some of the things which he and others 
>discussed at the conference 'me you and everyone we know is a 
>curator' organised by the Design Museum in the Netherlands. 
>http://www.motimuseum.nl/en/events/calendar/symposium-me-you-and-everyone-we-know-is-a-curator/455
>No one spoke of tumblers at the time, but perhaps we should have.
>
>I particularly like Sterling's quote that,
>"You can have all the machinic imagery out of CERN that you want, 
>but the question is: what does it mean, how does it feel, what you 
>do with it, how can you create? Is is beautiful, ugly, worthy, 
>worthless, how is that good or bad, how does it change us?"
>
>as I think these are the questions that curators try to answer with 
>their curatorial projects, beyond their tasks of collecting and 
>taxonomizing.
>
>I recognise that discussion on 'the new aesthetic' also raises some 
>interesting questions about how the 'new media art' world and the 
>'interaction design world' get along, as it would seem they are 
>further apart than we first thought. Perhaps the exhibitions of MoMA 
>could make an interesting case study here in that regard.
>
>Friday afternoon thoughts,
>Sarah

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