Some argue that the New Aesthetic is the digital world crossing into the analog world, but I think it might be best summarized as making art from digital tools we didn’t have until about 25 years ago–it’s art that a pre-Nintendo generation might not have understood, ranging from creating portraits from Google Maps to dresses from polygons. And it’s also logos like this one which draw their visual language from how we represent touch-screen swipes in instruction manuals.
TU Me is a social networking app for the iPhone by Spain’s broadband/telecommunications giant Telefonica. “TU” appears to be drawn with your own fingers on a screen, the round edges and overlapping lines representing the work of our pudgy meat sticks after some intense smoothing algorithms. And in this regard, it’s incredibly fresh-feeling. It could be the first web 3.0 logo, if you will, drawing upon the perspective of a more electronically worldly user, one who understands the swipe as intrinsically as a web 2.0 user understood the intricacies of typography (for the past 10 years, creating a unique logo was no more difficult than choosing the right font). It’s a logo that looks at the Internet, not as a destination, but as an experience. And it has me thinking of this idea of the New Aesthetic in a whole new light.
A lot of people are writing about the New Aesthetic. With the self-aggrandizing nature of the unlimited-word Internet, coupled with our obsession with analyzing the now in the now, it’s a still-emerging movement that’s already become remarkably difficult to deconstruct. The only thing everyone seems to agree on about the New Aesthetic is that it’s “new” and an “aesthetic.”
But the more I think about the New Aesthetic, the more I don’t think it’s a new way of thinking at all. The New Aesthetic is an old idea (playing with available pigments) with a new type of paint (pixels, digital maps, video glitches, etc.). That’s it. Etching your face through Google Maps GPS points is really no different than shading your face in charcoal. The only thing new about the New Aesthetic is that we haven’t had computers as long as we’ve had chalk on sidewalks.
All of that said, TU Me is a pretty remarkable example just what the New Aesthetic’s new set of paints can do. There’s no reason branding needs to be a word when it can now be a gesture, or an icon when it can be a filter or glitch, or anything needs to be one single stagnant thing when crowdsourcing can add an array of every-shifting facets to any idea. For the first time in a long time, we don’t need to look at Nike as the quintessential best-case scenario in branding, not now, not when we have so many screens to paint on with so many new colors of paint.
[Hat tip: Brand New]