Thursday, 30 October 2014

The New Aesthetic

Part of a series exploring Pervasive Play - see the other posts in the series

During the last 10 years we have seen the implementation of new frameworks for social networking in a virtual world. Due to the methods and tools we have, there is still divide between the virtual and physical.

New strategies have recently come to light about our use of technology in the everyday, including that of British writer and artist, James Bridle who conceived the term The New Aesthetic (Bridle, 2011) which continued as a research project and observation of the growing use of digital technology and the internet in the physical world.

"One of the core themes of the New Aesthetic has been our collaboration with technology … a way of seeing that seems to reveal a blurring between “the real” and “the digital”, the physical and the virtual, the human and the machine. It should also be clear that this ‘look’ is a metaphor for understanding and communicating the experience of a world in which the New Aesthetic is increasingly pervasive." (Bridle, 2012)
Bridle’s platform about The New Aesthetic exists, not in printed books, but on the internet as e-books, videos of talks, blogs, essays, comments, likes and shares.

For further reading on the discussion about The New Aesthetic, start with Bruce Sterling's 2012 essay.

Due to the immediacy of the internet, this has allowed debate and discussion on the timely subject, resulting in new thinking and practice. What is happening is that we are now starting to make sense of how digital and physical can work together, instead of separately from one another.

The layering of technology into our everyday lives is something which can be quite strange, yet it becomes almost impossible to not be affected by it in some way. Devices provide us with roaming internet connections, providing satellite GPS data and maps which not only guide us, but can also track and monitor our actions.

There has been an increasing amount of artists using developments in technology as part of their practice by coding, hacking and prototyping electronics as these advances become more accessible.

Fig. 1. Surveillance Spaulder (2013)
Fig. 2. Surveillance Spaulder (2013)

As an example, Bridle’s Surveillance Spaulder (2013 see fig. 1 & 2) is a political reaction to the technology of surveillance. The conceptual, wearable technology detects CCTV surveillance and alerts the wearer by means of a small electric shock to their body. “ focuses information on the body and draws the wearer’s attention to the external systems trained upon them” (Bridle, 2013)

Surveillance Spaulder from stml on Vimeo.

The most interesting thing is viewing how technology has been played with, changing how the CCTV infrastructure and people of a city work together.

My linking of digital art, The New Aesthetic and pervasive play is to discuss how technology can become integrated physically as part of gameplay, to give meaning, purpose, interactivity and connections to people, places and objects.

Read more at Part IV – The Internet of Things

Part of a series exploring Pervasive Play - see the other posts in the series

Bridle, J. (2014) The New Aesthetic. Available from: [Accessed 1 April 2014].

Bridle, J. (2013) Surveillance Spaulder. Available from: [Accessed 29 April 2014].

Bridle, J. (2012) #sxaesthetic: Report from Austin, Texas, on the New Aesthetic Panel at SXSW. Available from:[Accessed 1 April 2014].

Bridle, J. (2011) The New Aesthetic. Available from: [Accessed Feb 2014].

Sterling, Bruce. (2012) An Essay on the New Aesthetic, Beyond The Beyond, Wired. Available from: [Accessed Feb 2014].

Figure 1. Bridle, J. (2013) Surveillance Spaulder [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 29 April 2014).

Figure 2. Bridle, J. (2013) Surveillance Spaulder [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 29 April 2014).

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