This week has seen an explosion of writing about James Bridle’s new-aesthetic project (if one may call it that), from Bruce Sterling’s essay, through calls to politics, references to art history, and riffs on music. Finally, today, there was a collection of responses from several artists on the Creators Project blog (as referenced here earlier).
I found that interesting, because when I visited the Creators Project show in San Francisco in the middle of March, I found it one of the biggest outbreaks of new-aesthetic I’ve seen in a while; probably since decode at the V&A in late 2009 (although Talk To Me definitely had its moments too). In particular, there were a number of works - Strata #4 by Quayola and Overscan by Sosolimited spring to mind - that seem to me to really sum to embody parts of the NA “thing”, whatever it is.
Strata #4 is a work that uses scans of Flemish classics in the collection of the Palais de Beaux Arts in France as a starting point for an animation based on polygonal deformations. It’s probably easier to watch the video, but it certainly ties in to the sort of low-res rendering some have connected with NA. Meanwhile, Overscan was easy to overlook, as it’s designed for a bar, not an exhibition space. It consists of five screens, one showing live TV, with the other four processing that data in different ways: showing visualisations based on word usage (from the closed captioning / subtitles), face detection, image manipulation, and so on. It’s a lovely piece that, like Strata #4, is easier to watch than describe.
That’s just two of the dozen or so projects that were on display, which (naturally) varied in quality, longevity, and impact, but which generally felt like some sort of now, if not some kind of future. Some of the friends I went with were annoyed that the event had been bundled with talks and music, but I think my regret was that this wasn’t an exhibition that ran for a couple of months in a museum (SFMOMA, or perhaps San Jose’s Museum of Art) so that there would be time for word of mouth to get people interested.
Perhaps the point of this is that the collection of new-aesthetic works and influences on Tumblr is a recognition that this stuff is already out there, and that if a curator (as in, someone actually employed by a museum, as opposed to the looser internet definition) decided to organise an exhibition at an established venue, the work needed would be out there. There’s already a movement- it just didn’t have a name.