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The New Aesthetic
June 17, 2011 4:05 AM   Subscribe

The New Aesthetic For a while now, I’ve been collecting images and things that seem to approach a new aesthetic of the future, which sounds more portentous than I mean. What I mean is that we’ve got frustrated with the NASA extropianism space-future, the failure of jetpacks, and we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder.
posted by jack_mo (57 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is 2011. Where is my flying car?
posted by Renoroc at 4:14 AM on June 17, 2011


It's delivering your cure for cancer as soon as it fills up with pollution-free fuel.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:32 AM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, computers and cameras then? And a lot of grey.
posted by happyroach at 4:48 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yay, someone else who is convinced that what they think is cool is so cool everyone should see it.

Grmblgrmblgrmbl.
posted by TheRedArmy at 4:52 AM on June 17, 2011


Grmblgrmblgrmbl.

MutinyMutinyMutiny.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:58 AM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


No robot butlers, but we do have captcha.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:06 AM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


No Search Results for Segway.
posted by three blind mice at 5:09 AM on June 17, 2011


Where we're going we don't need roads.
posted by bwg at 5:10 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has nothing to do with the actual subject of the blog, but I am just so freaking sick of people using the word portentous when they mean pretentious. Pretentious comes from pretense, like you're putting on the pretense of being better or smarter than you are. Portentous comes from portent, like a portent of doom: ominous or foreboding. It's right there in the beginning of the word, for everyone to see!
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 5:17 AM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Disappointing. The blog, that is. Though the future isn't too far behind, either.
posted by tommasz at 5:25 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The phrase "new aesthetic of the future" is portentous and pretentious. It's a pretentiously expressed portent of what's to come, which is apparently surveillance and machine learning.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:29 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want the neon and chrome dystopia. This white plastic one sucks.
posted by khaibit at 5:30 AM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, come on, the first picture is of a bird with a camera for a head! That's so... oh, wait, it's a bird sitting in front of a camera. That's... OK, I guess.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:31 AM on June 17, 2011


I liked the music video on the page. Muted. For about a minute.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:39 AM on June 17, 2011


I'm surprised and disappointed by the negativity here. This Tumblr, which is by a friend of mine, is the information-gathering shopfront of a serious and thoughtful line of research. James is looking at the ways that the aesthetic of the digital world - pixels, captchas, glitches, wireframe etc - bleeds over into the the "real" world, and the feedback that creates. The proliferation of digital "eyes" is the most important aesthetic force in the world right now, and he's trying to find the outer edge of that through multiple lines of inquiry. There are hits and misses, but this isn't just any old Tumblr. Dig down through the links in the About page.
posted by WPW at 5:44 AM on June 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


khaibit - You want a Gibsonian technodystopia? Dark and smoky Asian marketplaces with bleeding edge technology and cheap knock-offs alike sold by quasi-legal and outright black market vendors packed cheek to jowl, making deals with shady buyers from around the globe?

Here ya go.

("When observations along the lines of "we're living in a William Gibson novel" begin to look trite and obvious, that's when you know you're really living in a William Gibson novel." - nasreddin)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:46 AM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love the Universal Constructor (fifth post), though I wish the description was a little more specific. It reminds me of this model of the prisoner's dilemma iterated into a fractal pattern.
posted by sulphur at 5:51 AM on June 17, 2011


I think the word this person really wants is "ponderous."
posted by modernserf at 5:54 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Slap*Happy: "khaibit - You want a Gibsonian technodystopia? Dark and smoky Asian marketplaces with bleeding edge technology and cheap knock-offs alike sold by quasi-legal and outright black market vendors packed cheek to jowl, making deals with shady buyers from around the globe?

Here ya go.

("When observations along the lines of "we're living in a William Gibson novel" begin to look trite and obvious, that's when you know you're really living in a William Gibson novel." - nasreddin)
"

I think the dissonance is because us sci-fi nerds thought the predominant dress in said 'dark and smoky Asian marketplaces' wouldn't be Hello Kitty shirts under flourescent lighting. The future is simultaneously more awesome and more boring than we could have imagined.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:05 AM on June 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


The future is simultaneously more awesome and more boring than we could have imagined.

The future always is. So is the present, when we actually experience it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:16 AM on June 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are hits and misses, but this isn't just any old Tumblr.

Since it looks like every other Tumblr assortment of "random links I liked", maybe there is a better venue for this is if they is being serious about it?
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was hoping for this future.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:32 AM on June 17, 2011


I was hoping for this future.

I dunno, enormous naked women grabbing spaceships and guys hacking spacecraft open with picks is not a future I am all that keen on. But then I don't like the idea of flying cars, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:42 AM on June 17, 2011


I was hoping for this future.

The US Congress said no.

I'm surprised and disappointed by the negativity here.

The post is pretty lackluster presentation, so it's not surprising. The Tumblr is lackluster, with lots of misses. That's fine, it is a research blog of sorts, but those misses can be very distracting.

That and the title of the blog makes him sound like pretentious wanker.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that has Gibson set all of his recent novels in the present day seems to imply that the world has caught up with his past work.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 AM on June 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was hoping that the Sachs Report was back.
posted by JJ86 at 6:47 AM on June 17, 2011


flying cars

have existed

for decades

they are called helicopters
posted by LogicalDash at 6:47 AM on June 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Art school theses must stop using the verb "interrogate."
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:48 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Art school theses must stop using the verb "interrogate."

Yeah, cause the information you get from that kind of research is pretty much worthless. The work tells you what you want to hear to stop the interrogation. Relying on disaffected works from previously discredited art movements is also problematic, but unfortunately widespread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:01 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


flying cars

have existed

for decades

they are called helicopters


they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold.
posted by jquinby at 7:04 AM on June 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


MetaFilter: I'm surprised and disappointed by the negativity here.
posted by rocket88 at 7:12 AM on June 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Listen people, we need to get on top of what ever this digital thing is doing in the world out there - the politicians are getting worried.
If we can look as though we're explaining it.... it's going to be research funded garden patios for everyone.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:12 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yay, someone else who is convinced that what they think is cool is so cool everyone should see it.

What strange, unique circumstances.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:21 AM on June 17, 2011


Since it looks like every other Tumblr assortment of "random links I liked", maybe there is a better venue for this is if they is being serious about it?

It's a collection of images, links and snippets of text, and Tumblr is a good tool for that. Maybe the results aren't a good post for Metafilter; obviously I'm biased in favour. Maybe more links, context and explanation in the OP would have helped.
posted by WPW at 7:25 AM on June 17, 2011


"The proliferation of digital "eyes" is the most important aesthetic force in the world right now, and he's trying to find the outer edge of that through multiple lines of inquiry."

A jargon heavy sentence, and concept, like this needs context. It needs to be pulled apart and situated in such a way that it makes sense to people not familiar with the technical terms used.

It needs to be made cool for those who aren't already interested in it.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 7:27 AM on June 17, 2011


this isn't just any old Tumblr.

This Tumblr, which is by a friend of mine


I think these may be related.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:38 AM on June 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like some of the stuff collected in the tumblr and that jamie woon music video is awesome, but I'm trying to put a finger on why this seems loose and unfocused. I read the about page and WPW's comment and my problem with it is that it groups several different practices together which don't necessarily have the


What I mean is that we’ve got frustrated with the NASA extropianism space-future, the failure of jetpacks, and we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder.

When your opening paragraph is about the failure of collective faith in 60's technological optimism and what should replace it, you've set yourself up a slightly large problem. Our relationship with technological progress has obviously changed since the 60s. We used to trust in their redemptive powers at both the level of the personal consumer and the nation, businesses stepped up to provide to both. Today businesses emphasis convenience and friendliness in typical consumer products, and institutions no longer associate technological gains with utopian progress, a new funnelling of 'invisible intelligence' at extreme scales I guess.

The about page seems to acknowledge this, grouping together the banal and hidden instances of technology with artistic refractions of the look, this last being maybe the only place where the "bleeding" of technology calls attention to itself, because otherwise it's not bleeding and feedback but just business as usual. The main tumblr on the other hand seems to pick out fringe moments of speculative weirdness in security technology and has little to do with our most common, active relationships with technology.
posted by doobiedoo at 7:58 AM on June 17, 2011


oooops, meant to delete that first line, mods can you give me a hand?
posted by doobiedoo at 8:00 AM on June 17, 2011


SpaceWarp13:

Machines can increasingly see things, recognise things, read the environment around them. Like face-recognition technology. That, in turn, is influencing the way we see and shape our environment. Like facepaint that disrupts face-recognition technology.

Meanwhile, the way that machines display pictures - pixellated, in the most obvious example - is increasingly bleeding through into our environment, with pixellation being used as decoration on buildings, for instance.

Meanwhile, the physical infrastructure of the internet - data centres etc - is increasingly widespread, prominent and important, but largely unnoticed and unremarked.

These are ways the digital world is altering the look of the non-digital world. Often quite subtle and everyday ways, but those can have the biggest influence on what the world looks like, rather than fine art. Interesting, no? I mean, you're under no obligation to find it interesting, but I find it fascinating.
posted by WPW at 8:00 AM on June 17, 2011


Anyamatopoeia: I think "portentious" is perfectly valid here, and is probably the word he meant. People do misuse one for the other often, but I don't think this is one of those.
posted by rusty at 8:01 AM on June 17, 2011


I want the neon and chrome dystopia. This white plastic one sucks.

You can have a black plastic on instead, but it'll cost you $300 extra.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are ways the digital world is altering the look of the non-digital world. Often quite subtle and everyday ways, but those can have the biggest influence on what the world looks like, rather than fine art. Interesting, no? I mean, you're under no obligation to find it interesting, but I find it fascinating.

I'm equally fascinated - but it's a very surfacey, slactavistic line of enquiry, no ? Chris Hedge's latest book partly talks about the promotion of semiotics at the expense of social justice, we're all talking about the panzini advert while the farms are being foreclosed. Anyway, thats the direction I would rather people went in with this kind of thing. Never mind, more giant gaps for the rest of us.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:28 AM on June 17, 2011


scientists are saying that the future will be much more futuristic than originally predicted...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:46 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


but it's a very surfacey, slactavistic line of enquiry, no ?

Well, it's not the only thing he's doing. I didn't make the post.
posted by WPW at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2011


Have favicons been outlawed as part of this new aesthetic?
posted by cashman at 9:08 AM on June 17, 2011


"The proliferation of digital "eyes" is the most important aesthetic force in the world right now, and he's trying to find the outer edge of that through multiple lines of inquiry."

How is it an aesthetic? Or even an aesthetic force? A lens maybe.

I look at the world with an interest in certain issues (like city planning), but that doesn't mean that old Victorians share an aesthetic with post-modern starchitecture or dilapidated factories. Even if I sharpened that interest into a thesis about trends, I could probably still take a lot of photos that had different aesthetics, as do the images in this blog. Am I misunderstanding the word "aesthetic" here?

It's an interesting interest, but I'd phrase it differently.
posted by salvia at 9:10 AM on June 17, 2011


This isn't the future.

The future is two scrawny, diseased dogs fighting over a putrescent rodent carcass in a vast, desolate, rotting wasteland.

But, thankfully, we don't have to worry about that happening any time soo.... aw, crap.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2011


> Yay, someone else who is convinced that what they think is cool is so cool everyone should see it.

BEHOLD, THE INTERNET!
posted by Señor Pantalones at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. --Criswell, Plan 9 From Outer Space
posted by kinnakeet at 9:51 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


My personal theory is that we're all stuck in Biff's Alternate 1985 timeline.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


God the future is boring, needs more explosions
posted by Shit Parade at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2011


I'm surprised and disappointed by the negativity here. This Tumblr, which is by a friend of mine...

Perhaps you're a bit too close to this to remain objective, then.
posted by odinsdream at 11:05 AM on June 17, 2011


I'm coming to appreciate tumblr and other micro-blogs as online Cornell boxes: often, the less said by the collector / author about the contents, the better.

My latest personal favorites include SC-TECH, a collection of scientific images, such as this 1901 world map of undersea cables, along with astronaut Douglas Wheelock's twitpic feed of photographs from Earth and space.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:09 AM on June 17, 2011


To disagree with all the hate, I'm really enjoying this blog. After reading six of the 15 pages, it begins to take on some coherence, and the content is very compelling yet quick enough to keep me moving through it. A+++++ would click again!
posted by slogger at 11:35 AM on June 17, 2011


James is looking at the ways that the aesthetic of the digital world - pixels, captchas, glitches, wireframe etc - bleeds over into the the "real" world, and the feedback that creates.

In about 1998, I remember seeing a program promo on a Fox station. It featured several small, short iconic animations, one for each show on the evening schedule. I looked at the one for the Simpsons, which was Homer doing a quick shimmy in a tool belt, and it hit me what I was looking at:

An animated GIF.

That was the first time I noticed internet culture having an organic, unheralded impact on the "real" world -- the kind of impact people don't even notice unless they're attuned to it (as I was, being a webmaster at the time). That's the kind of thing that really tells you something has made an impact -- not the conscious references, not the name-checks -- that stuff can just be faddism. It's when somebody copies something or is influenced by it, but then doesn't call attention to it, that you know you're looking at something organic.

So, this: strikes me as an effort to notice moments like that. I think it's cool and I wish them luck keeping it up.
posted by lodurr at 12:18 PM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has nothing to do with the actual subject of the blog, but I am just so freaking sick of people using the word portentous when they mean pretentious.

But I loved the portenders!
posted by jamjam at 1:55 PM on June 17, 2011


Perhaps you're a bit too close to this to remain objective, then.

I didn't think I had to be objective.
posted by WPW at 5:45 AM on June 18, 2011


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