‘trial by association’ 20×20 inch acrylic on canvas

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Aesthetics

Something that has been sitting at the back of my mind is aesthetics. This is especially important for my own self expression through graffiti art. I use the term graffiti because it relates to a negative value in some cases. It is seen as a blight rather than an art especially in a neoliberal world. It is strange to think that this way of thinking of the economy as a mind that needs to be deregulated and free to grow in its own way can come back to aesthetics as a tool like marketing for example.

Graffiti started to explode in the 70s around the same time Hayek met Thatcher to talk about his ideas and their application. Aesthetics though seem irrelevant in the case or at least changeable with the times but are very much tied into value. People still can admire bucking the trends and doing things outside of the accepted systems. These things are so difficult to quantify but what I want to highlight is the negative value of classic graffiti forms and then contrast the branded valued codes of graffiti.

I feel this is the real battle line for more than just graffiti. Aesthetics are constantly re valued and borders crossed and rewritten all of the time. This though is obvious but interesting because it has become so difficult to see value outside of monetary terms and every gateway seems to be essentially a path to money or no money. We all need money but when value is just money as opposed to values like integrity or resilience the world can seem bleak. Aesthetics though to me seem in this environment to be even bleaker. The aesthetic body in western society seems to have become a machine. An efficient burner of carbohydrates (for comic effect) and able to be more than human. It isn’t all cyborgs and bastardised technology but a beautiful machine that is primed for efficiency, ie the neoliberal dream machine!

The step away from self hacking to self preservation seems to be the point though it is pretty simplistic to see these aesthetics that way. The body is simply at its best and is its most efficient version. Other than that the buffoon is a great aesthetic icon to many as well. I wondered why “Ghost in the Shell” was a fizzer but it shows aesthetics that people can’t relate to these days. It is for the hacker and the glitch lover. The days of the living net are now the dark net, a market place for bogus Medicare cards and malware. The super highways of Facebook which seem idyllic are the bane of most peoples day seeing peoples thoughts laid bare. But it keeps people coming back and the savy sell themselves in what is essentially a market place. The photo of a nice vista or dinner are these aesthetic tid bits of oppression. It dawns on you that you need to take a back seat or get out and walk.

Thats why I keep coming back to graffiti in that it has negative value and that is its strength and weakness. It derives itself from the unthought of to the foreground only to be recognised. This recognition leads to its removal or erasure. It is constantly erased from sight and thought. There is something about its appearance in this world of unthought of spaces. The places that seem forgotten. It is proof that somebody is thinking where thought shouldn’t be.