And the future, to be honest, is already the past. Futurism is a very old fashioned concept. That whole idea of futurism is 19th century. So I really like to give it that twist, to say “OK, it’s not really important where it is on the timeline, it’s important if it makes sense in its elements
- Uwe Schmidt - The Ecstasy of Simulation (Wire 793)
What do computers care about clocks or faces? We teach machines to indicate them, to prick up their ears in their presence, because that’s what we need. Our imaginary just manages to graze the edges of what might be called the experience of machines—and it’s on that borderland which the New Aesthetic emerges, traveling a differently-ordered sovereignty, in which we’re feral interlopers.
It’s explicitly non-retro, even more so not retro-future, or retro 8 bit. The look overlaps with this season’s aztec fixation, but even appropriating such imagery ruled a piece out of consideration. Sometimes it’s just the right colours, or the cut. It’s more gradient fill than pixels. It’s things that couldn’t be made 5 years ago. Supersymmetry and asymmetry. It’s not about the ‘machine vision’ that the New Aesthetic references, but it’s hard to see how that will not be appropriated and re-emerge into fashion as something not necessarily technically correct but aesthetically interesting.
Fads swept the youth of the Sprawl at the speed of light; entire subcultures could rise overnight, thrive for a dozen weeks, and then vanish utterly
The New Aesthetic isn’t a chromed android glistening with scifi robot-vision aura. The New Aesthetic is a rather old, and hearteningly traditional, story about a regional, generational cluster of creative people who are perceiving important stuff that other, older, and dumber people don’t get quite yet. It’s a typical avant-garde art movement that has arisen within a modern network society. That’s what is going on.
One of the core themes of the New Aesthetic has been our collaboration with technology, whether that’s bots, digital cameras or satellites (and whether that collaboration is conscious or unconscious), and a useful visual shorthand for that collaboration has been glitchy and pixelated imagery, 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.

Kiti le Step went onstage with livecoder MCLD, and this is what resulted: noisy deconstructions of dubstep’s core components, inflicted live on audiences in Strasbourg and Paris. Beats get broken, basslines get turned into feedback howls, humans and algorithms conspire against sound engineers.