On Apr 13, 2012, at 10:11 AM, Sarah Cook wrote:
> Was anyone on the list at the South by Southwest panel a month ago now?
I was at the panel and I thought it was great, easily my favorite of the conference. It was fun and performative, a bit challenging (by SXSW standards). I could see that the cleverness and slickness might have been distracting, but I think there are solid ideas behind it. The notes I've seen posted by the panelists seem to follow pretty closely with what they actually said. There was no Q&A, but I'm glad to see it being discussed as much as it has been.
> I am intrigued by Bruce Sterling's article
Yeah, this is the best thing I've read, and probably has a lot to do with the discussion carrying on like it has. I've found some of these to be useful as well:
Two bits that have stuck with me from Sterling's essay, as someone who thinks about the "'new media art' is its own thing" vs "'new media art' is just part of contemporary art" debate:
"Modern creatives who want to work in good faith will have to fully disengage from the older generationís mythos of phantoms, and masterfully grasp the genuine nature of their own creative tools and platforms. Otherwise, they will lack comprehension and command of what they are doing and creating, and they will remain reduced to the freak-show position of most twentieth century tech art. Thatís what is at stake."
"An intellectually honest New Aesthetic would have wider horizons than a glitch-hunt. It would manifest a friendlier attitude toward non-artistic creatives and their works. It would be kinder with non-artists, at ease with them, helpful to them, inclusive of them, of service to them. Itís not enough to adopt a grabbier attitude toward the inanimate products of their engineering."
> 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.
A lot of my New Media Art friends seem to want to avoid this conversation, or have adopted a "tell me why this matters" stance. I guess that's understandable, it's easy to look at the Tumblr blog and not see much substance. Plus it's a broader cultural thing, it doesn't exclude fashion and advertising, it is probably generationally divisive. It seems to highlight my own provincial in-groups.
Last night at the Q&A of Aram Barthol's book launch he seemed either unfamiliar with the New Aesthetic or hadn't formed an opinion about it ("it's too new!"). And he's certainly been featured on the New Aesthetic Tumblr. Bruce Sterling has an essay in his monograph. Lindsay Howard, Eyebeam's new curatorial fellow who was moderating, responded with "it's an essay in the works."
The response that doesn't make any sense to me is "this has all been discussed before." The point is that we are in this particular situation now, with its drones and GPS phones and face matching algorithms. The New Aesthetic label might be a useful shorthand for discussing those conditions. I could see taking the stance that our conditions are not in fact changing so drastically, or that this particular shorthand is flawed. I'm just glad to see this stuff being considered outside explicitly art/academic/activist circles.
I do think it's related to some of the stuff being curated by Paola Antonelli at MoMA, but the show that comes to mind to me more is Re:Group (also at Eyebeam) from a couple years ago. Or maybe early 2000s Resfest?