New Aesthetic, New Anxieties

This recent collaboration, the book New Aesthetic, New Anxieties was the result of a five day Book Sprint organized by Michelle Kasprzak at Rotterdam’s V2_ Institute for Unstable Media, led by Book Sprint facilitator Adam Hyde onsite at V2_ from June 17–21, 2012. Our seven authors, all curators and/or media theorists – David M. Berry, Michel van Dartel, Michael Dieter, Michelle Kasprzak, Nat Muller, José Luis de Vicente and myself – were almost all strangers to each other before the project. We managed to produce quite a solid text in just 4 days, which has since been profiled by Bruce Sterling in and also reviewed here. The blurb:

‘The New Aesthetic’ was a design concept and netculture phenomenon launched into the world by London designer James Bridle in 2011. It continues to attract the attention of media art, and throw up associations to a variety of situated practices, including speculative design, net criticism, hacking, free and open source software development, locative media, sustainable hardware and so on. This is how we have considered the New Aesthetic: as an opportunity to rethink the relations between these contexts in the emergent episteme of computationality. There is a desperate need to confront the political pressures of neoliberalism manifested in these infrastructures. Indeed, these are risky, dangerous and problematic times; a period when critique should thrive. But here we need to forge new alliances, invent and discover problems of the common that nevertheless do not eliminate the fundamental differences in this ecology of practices. In this book, perhaps provocatively, we believe a great deal could be learned from the development of the New Aesthetic not only as a mood, but as a topic and fix for collective feeling, that temporarily mobilizes networks. Is it possible to sustain and capture these atmospheres of debate and discussion beyond knee-jerk reactions and opportunistic self-promotion? These are crucial questions that the New Aesthetic invites us to consider, if only to keep a critical network culture in place.

There have been 44 of these Book Sprints, founded by our facillitator Adam Hyde, all of them successful. I’ve become very interested in the process of Booksprints as a means of collective, long-form attention gathering in the age of conference and panel-based ‘talking in the air’ and web-based ‘writing into ether’ (and academic writing behind paywalls). The result I think speaks for itself and we ourselves were very surprised by the quality of what was produced in such a short time period between us. Very interested in your critical reviews.

You can download EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and annotatable online versions of the book at the links on the V2 website. We’re also working on lulu version so you can print it out and put in on your shelf.