“Aesthetics” are more that whatever gets splashed onto Cafe Press T-shirts this season.
Aesthetics are by their nature metaphysical.
Aesthetics are, by definition, how beauty is perceived and valued in a human sensorium. Aesthetics is therefore an issue of metaphysics. Perception, beauty, judgment and value are all metaphysical issues.
Our human, aesthetic reaction to the imagery generated by our machines is our own human problem. We are the responsible parties there. We can program robots and digital devices to generate images and spew images at our eyeballs. We can’t legitimately ask them to tell us how to react to that.
I hasten to assure you that I’m not making lame vitalist claims that our human reactions are mystical, divine, immaterial, timeless or absolute in truth. I am merely stating, as a stark and demonstrable fact, that our machines have no such reactions. To rely on them to do that for us is fraudulent.
The New Aesthetic is a genuine aesthetic movement with a weak aesthetic metaphysics. It’s sticky with bogus lyricism.
This is why I think Object-Oriented Philosophy has tons of great work to do w/r/t technological aesthetics. It’s where to look for the metaphysical rigour. Let’s all read Ian Bogost’s Alien Phenomenology, shall we?