Since the abundance of technology is subverting the centrality of humanity, the mutation of our aesthetics comes as no surprise; in fact it’s no longer useful to separate the man from the machine/the digital from the physical when you swim in a muddied ocean of pixelpunk, because today, their intersectionality has to some extent reached everyone, and it’s literally finding its way into everything, which means that we have to deal with this technology-generated aesthetic sensibility with a new consciousness, that is already in its proto phase. One thing we can all agree on: there is a change occurring and something other is challenging our perception, a little frightening isn’t it? Yes, but worthy of serious analysis. From my perspective, it’s an opportunity to explore a new approach; it may help us in our attempt to understand the shifting but also to decipher the powerfully digitalized language. This is what copulating with New Aesthetic feels like, it’s already here and people who are stuck with their craving for simplism can do nothing about it. Some of you don’t even know what to make of it, and probably wonder if the word aesthetic still has meaning or if the whole thing is a blur, while others are trying to climb onboard to get in the game simply because NA speaks to them.
Like any messy art meme, New Aesthetic has been quite busy, spitting pixels and throwing 8-bit shades of controversy all over our e-faces. It stayed three years, maybe more in gestation to finally deliver a vision that has muscles strong enough to appease our appetite for the alien. As its name suggests, it’s related to a new climate change; in this case, it’s our augmented humanity with all its mother lode of digital delights that have been documented, transferred in James Bridle’s Tumblr of the same name. He dropped the bomb in 2011 and managed to conceptualize a term that agglomerates everything the Internet has produced and delivered that is aesthetically influential, to the point of confusion between real and virtual. Given the state of computing we currently live in, it’s normal to be curious about it, even a little, and to have thinkers, artists, and techno enthusiasts actively trying to further the creative conversation, is pretty much inevitable – they will undoubtedly push our techno-positivist excitement to a new level. Because that’s what’s New Aesthetic does best – push the envelope to understand the complexity of our contemporary experiences. With the numbers of essays and exhibitions dedicated to NA it’s fair to say that the controversy has been super productive, and now that we have the doors wide open for creative tinkering, more visual artists and designers are mingling with the dirty pixel, hooked to their desktop as newborns to their umbilical cord but no longer bound to the conservative. However, we must keep in mind that NA has really opened a special case here, it provided an absolute freedom for artists to shape a future that is everything but a fantasy, and with these cyber Dadaists, the technological revolution is getting the reflection it deserves. But emphasizing with screens and desktops is not enough for New Aesthetic, its boldness is ‘happening’ in fashion too and it may pierce you to the heart at first click. No part of our lives remains untouched, even the way we dress. Don’t roll your eyes, it’s really not that surprising to have New Aesthetic clothing popping up all over the fashion mood boards, just look around, fashion’s engagement with online culture has never been so strong. It is absorbing internet like a vacuum and it is happening at all levels.
There are quite good designers out there working on the transference, feeding the digital magma and making the translation from New Aesthetic to clothing a lot more obvious, this is probably due to the fact that we had people like Sterling Crispin to curate a fashion art project (Netstyle) which allowed young Internet-Based Artists to design a limited edition-line of t-shirts, creating works that capture (surprisingly well) the very loaded tension between us and the machine – and I’m talking about something that took place three years ago, it was bloody good but still embryonic. Now the baby is all grown up, the aesthetic is assimilated and easily recognizable, but if you really want to know how fashion is being toyed with, check out the work of Cory Arcangel. You may have heard about him – he’s a programmer and artist who mostly works around the internet and new media – and for reasons that are easy to pin down his latest art project, a collaboration with Bravado CEO Tom Bennett, has made lot of noise. Arcangel came up with this crazy idea of a clothing line made specifically for hardcore surfers using one of the most powerful NA ropes, the gradient. The artist succeeded in highlighting the rapid obsolescence of technologies by using Photoshop to work on sweatshirts for when we go hard on the net; this is a pure act of New Aestheticism .
If you can take anything from the whole mess that is New Aesthetic, it would be that you shouldn’t be afraid of investing in it: log in, drop in, and dare to embrace it .