At this year’s SXSW Interactive, there was a panel titled The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Digital Devices. It was about technology, and how it relates to art and design. Since SXSW, there have been many discussions, including a sprawling, 5,000 word essay on Wired, about the New Aesthetic’s shortcomings, its potential, and its significance.
So what is the New Aesthetic, exactly?
The New Aesthetic processes reality through the lens of technology…
The New Aesthetic is an artistic movement. It is sometimes described as physical versus virtual, or the tension between humans and machines. Its major visual emblems include pixelated images, Photoshop glitches, gradients, render ghosts, and, yes, animated GIFs. Data visualization, like an elaborate Venn diagram, can fall under the New Aesthetic umbrella, as can graphic information, like a Google Maps screengrab. Strategically placing marks on a human face, so a machine can’t recognize it as a face, is an act of New Aestheticism. Another popular trend: Photos of people taking photos.