The New Aesthetic

The New Aesthetic has become an emerging concept within media theory discussed by James Bridle through a Tumblr feed since 2012. The New Aesthetic considers the complex relationship, which we as humans have with network technology and in turn the effect it’s having upon our perception and understanding of the physical environment.

The New Aesthetic is not superficial, it is not concerned with beauty or surface texture. It is deeply engaged with the politics and politicisation of networked technology, and seeks to explore, catalogue, categorise, connect and interrogate these things. Where many seem to read only incoherence and illegibility, the New Aesthetic articulates the deep coherence and multiplicity of connections and influences of the network itself (Bridle 2016).

Bridle touches on many ideas of the new aesthetic considering glitch culture, satellite imagery, urban camouflage that all link back to this “New Aesthetic” morphed by a way of seeing virtual things in the real world.  As a style, Bridle sees it as an emergence of pixelation design, which is a result of network medias and technology’s advancement in capabilities. This pixelated imagery conceptualized in the digital, is now produced in the physical upon a ubiquitous & very physical object in an attempt to connect itself back into the digital through aesthetic appearance.

Pixel Umbrella
Pixel Umbrella


Bridle sees the introduction of devices which have allowed us to see in new ways as an aspect of the digitals influence upon the physical. Satellite imagery and tools such as Google Map View, has given audiences the ability to explore the physical world using a virtual device. Satellite imagery in particular introduced an entire new way of seeing the landscape of the earth from a vertical top down angle, never possible before the invention of digital satellite cameras. This internet brought about many issues of privacy as it becomes widely available to use google maps as a way to view specific areas of land, buildings and otherwise protected areas from public view. For example, royals, celebrities, and famous people, being in adversely spied on by these satellites capturing the earth’s surface. This issue was resolved via the ability to apply for a disclosure and removal of imagery. However, Bridle is interested in this new way of seeing the physical landscape through a digital interface that in many cases would have never been possible without network culture.


As discussed, network culture has leaked into the political sphere as many challenges are now posed with the increased ubiquity of connectivity and segments of our lives, which we allow technology to take control off. The political effect can be seen by the rises of “Anonymous”, a loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities who represent many ideologies intended to rebel against political oppression and campaign for a free world through network media. The concept of becoming anonymous or unseen within this digital network links to the New Aesthetic as we leave digital footprints across networks with our interaction with technology to the point where now even just walking down a high street with the amount of CCTV we are captured in and interlinked via out embodied movement in the physical world.


As a media concept it is felt that Bridles concept of the new aesthetic directly links to many ideas of the post-modernism culture, where the effects of technology and networks impacts upon how we interact and users of this network, now embodied within the physical.

“The body is a machine for navigating space and the mind is a machine for navigating time, technology is the time and our place for which change out perception of the space at a specific time” (Bridle 2013).

Reflecting on this the new aesthetic is providing a means of discussing how these technologies are shaping our feelings, culture and behaviors that’s developing and evolving a new form of nature.



Bridle, J., 2016. The New Aesthetic and its Politics | [online] Available from: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].


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