The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Digital Devices

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

Monday 12th March, 2012

9:30am to 10:30am (CST)

Slowly, but increasingly definitively, our technologies and our devices are learning to see, to hear, to place themselves in the world. Phones know their location by GPS. Financial algorithms read the news and feed that knowledge back into the market. Everything has a camera in it. We are becoming acquainted with new ways of seeing: the Gods-eye view of satellites, the Kinect's inside-out sense of the living room, the elevated car-sight of Google Street View, the facial obsessions of CCTV.

As a result, these new styles and senses recur in our art, our designs, and our products. The pixelation of low-resolution images, the rough yet distinct edges of 3D printing, the shifting layers of digital maps. In this session, the participants will give examples of these effects, products and artworks, and discuss the ways in which ways of seeing are increasingly transforming ways of making and doing.

About the speakers

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Ben Terrett

Design Dir

Head of Design, GDS, Cabinet Office, UK Government. Co-founder @newspaperclub, spare part at @riglondon. (Also @id8_prototyping). Formerly W+K.

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Aaron Cope

Stamen Design

Aaron is Canadian by birth, American by descent, North American by experience et Montréalais au fond. Aaron was senior engineer at Flickr focusing on all things geo, machinetag and galleries related between 2004 and 2009. From 2009 to 2011 he was design technologist and Director of Inappropriate Project Names at Stamen Design where he created prettymaps. He is also on the advisory board of the Built Works Registry and currently serving as Director of Revolutionary Technologies for the Spinny Bar History Society. Once upon a time he was still a painter. Aaron's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. He is a frequent speaker at the Museums and the Web conference and co-authored the paper "Imagining the Built Works Registry" with Christine Kuan. Aaron blogs at [thisisaaronland] and does not normally speak in the third person. Aaron likes to be nearby when anchovies are simmering in olive oil.

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Aaron Straup Cope

Internet Typist

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James Bridle

Partner, Really Interesting Group

James Bridle is a writer, publisher and artist based in London, UK. He has founded innovative publishing start-ups and helps publishers and arts organisations understand new media. At the moment he's particularly interested in networks, architecture and digital behaviour. He makes things with words, books and the internet, and writes about what he does at http://booktwo.org.

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Joanne McNeil

Sr Editor, Rhizome

Joanne McNeil is senior editor of Rhizome, an organization dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology.

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Russell Davies


Russell Davies divides his life between strategic communications consulting for large organisations and doing stupid experiments on the internet. As part of the first half he works for people like Nike, Apple, Microsoft, Honda, Wieden + Kennedy, R/GA and the UK Government. As part of the latter he's a Contributing Editor for Wired UK, organiser of the 'Interesting' conferences, inventor of Big Red Buttons and of Dawdlr (a twitter for the Long Now). He's currently writing a chose-your-own-adventure non-fiction book about interestingness.

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Time 9:30am10:30am CST

Date Mon 12th March 2012


Driskill Ballroom, Driskill Hotel

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