Blowup: Fiddling While Rome Burns?

This edition of Blowup will be a "Book Sprint." From June 17 to June 21 we invite a group of leading thinkers, writers and artists to an intensive four day writing session, in which they will start and finish writing a book together. Daily updates and the final result will appear online.

Jun 2012
Jun 2012
location: V2_, Eendrachtsstraat 10, Rotterdam

Participating writers: Michael DieterDavid M. BerryJosé Luis de Vicente, Nat Muller, Adam Hyde, Rachel O'Reilly, Michelle Kasprzak and Michel van Dartel

You can download the e-book as an EPUB, MOBI, or PDF.

Across Europe, culture is in the crosshairs; the common currency is in peril; the Dutch government has fallen. But we aren't going to speak of that. Instead, Vital Beauty - the most recent book by V2_ Publications - asserts that we must return to the "age-old idea of beauty" to recover a sense of our own humanity: a humanity refracted through the lens of our technologies and the possibilities that they bring. This plea for a return to beauty is backed by a group of designers and thinkers demanding a "New Aesthetic," one that embeds the fingerprint of digital methods in our environment in increasingly visible ways. Are we on the cusp of an "Aesthetic Turn" in contemporary art and design? And if so, what shape do we want it to take? By speaking of aesthetics now, are we fiddling while Rome burns, or rescuing the essence of our culture from discussions of how to finance it?

Blowup: Fiddling While Rome Burns? is presented to the audience as an online event. Follow the process at V2_ through this page and via social media between June 17 and 21. We will provide you with daily updates. Expect interviews, statements and arguments by the participants and of course the final publication on June 21.


"A good example of a nascent formalization, or boundary drawing practices in relation to the New Aesthetic is given by debates over the "correct" use of algorithms. Last february, Norwegian born, NYC-based artist generative artist Marius Watz posted on his Tumblr - of all places - a brief article intended to act as a warning sign and wake-up call for his peers, the community of artists and designers who have chosen the medium of computer code as their working toolset. He wrote:

   Yes, heavy use of standard algorithm is bad for you. That is, if you wish to consider yourself a computational
   creative capable of coming up with interesting work... You cannot lay claim to “owning” any given algorithm
   (or hardware configuration), unless you have added significant extra value to it. To do so at best ignorant...
   This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with great algorithms (Waltz 2012). 

In effect this was a critique of what Watz called "algorithmic laziness" and seemed to be defining the contours of acceptable algorithmic use in artistic practice. As Sterling (2012b) commented, "A 'canon of algorithms.' What an intriguing development.’."


Related articles

Monday June 18: Book Sprinting with Adam Hyde, interview by Arie Altena.

Monday June 18: Interview with José Luis de Vicente by Arie Altena.

Tuesday June 19: Interview with Michel van Dartel on The New Esthetic by Joris van Ballegooijen.

Photo selection 


Interview with Nat Muller on V2_'s Book Sprint 2012 from V2_ on Vimeo.

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