I believe that much of the weak commentary on the New Aesthetic is a direct result of a weak technological literacy in the arts, and the critical discourse that springs from it. It is also representative of a far wider critical and popular failure to engage fully with technology in its construction, operation and affect. Since at least the introduction of the VCR – perhaps the first truly domesticated computational object – it seems there has been a concerted, societal rejection of technical understanding, wherein the attitude that “I don’t understand this and therefore don’t like this and therefore I will not investigate this” is ascendant and lauded. This attitude manifests in the low-level Luddite response to almost every technical innovation; in the stigmatisation of geek culture and interests, academic and recreational; in the managerial culture of economic government – and in the elevation of sleek, black-box corporate-controlled objects, platforms and services, from the iPhone to the SUV, over open-source, hackable, comprehensible and shareable alternatives. This wilful anti-technicalism, which is a form of anti-intellectualism, mirrors the present cultural obsession with nostalgia, retro and vintage which was one of the spurs for the entire New Aesthetic project; it is boring, and we reject it.
Bridle pulls no punches and goes after art critics who do not know their tech. I guess it is unlikely all of them will change their ways and so for the foreseeable future we will have to repeat this argument again and again.