Timeless works of art

Aesthetics as a conditional average treatment effect

Relevance and dialogue

The “suck fairy”. “Too soon”. The artistic experience of red queen signalling. The purity of the ungrammable.

Toby Shorin, Diminishing Marginal Returns of Aesthetic Value:

Between the zone of normalcy and the zone of experimentation, there is a sweet spot. Just outside what is considered normal yet familiar enough to be comprehended, this is where good marketers work. When Weiden Kennedy says they want to capture “lightning in a bottle” this is what they mean: to take something just outside of mainstream culture, aestheticize it, and turn it into marketing for a consumer product. […]

The crowdfunding and tiny brand revolutions indicate that the business entity can be a means of self-expression and an aesthetic medium of its own. Pop-up shops and one-off capsule collections are effective single-shot versions of this medium, but projects with greater ambitions are emerging as well. LOT2046 and Urbit are vehicles for a set of values for with distinct auteurial aesthetic visions.

Gertrude Stein:

What did you think of what you saw, asked Miss Stein. […] that the Picassos were rather awful and the others were not. Sure, she said, as Pablo once remarked, when you make a thing, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly, but those that do it after you they don’t have to worry about making it and they can make it pretty and so everybody can like it when others make it.

Art and subculture

Subculture is the primary way I think about my experience of conceive of art. My stepmother Heidi is a Dressage professional, in fact a competition judge. She can see the art in what those horses do that I cannot.

I, by contrast, am immersed in certain genres of electronic music (left field bass, jungle), occasionally professionally, and can hear things in music that she cannot.

Is one of us delusional in the enjoyment we get from seeing virtuosic performances in our artform? I personally do not think so.

I have a harder time adopting this attitude when someone likes something similar to what I like, but I hate it. (psy-trance, say). Am I a good judge of art in my own area, and correct that psy-trance is terrible? Is nothing terrible?

A lot is written about aesthetics of course, I do not want to come up with a theory of all that stuff right here.

But I do want to think about context of appreciating something pretty for a moment, as that problem that pops up in many fields, to wit

the fixation on finding average effects when the structure of effect differences is what we ought to be interested in.

Is DIY the ultimate microtargetted marketing?


As someone who makes music the tension between innovation and execution is always in the front of my mind. There is always a scope for things that are imperfectly executed because they are new and edgy, and for things that are polished to perfection.

Recently I have been wondering if the balance has shifted towards polish. It feels like pressure for producing hyper-stylized cookie-cutter EDM sounds as become high. In particular, the need for immaculate studio production has driven out the scope for live, rough, improvised stuff.

To make this precise I would need to check some things; is the appetite for DIY stuff truly shrinking? Or shrinking as proportion of an overall growing market, maybe even actually growing overall?

Discussion point: Youtube thumbnails.

Joe Veix, Your Pretty Face is Going to Sell

Everywhere you look, there’s YouTube Face.

The Face is hard to miss once you first spot it: an exaggerated expression, an overreaction to a given video’s subject, typically conveying heightened states like disgust, anger, or ecstasy. The assault of a bad smell; a bite of something intensely sour; a faked orgasm; an elbow to the guts.

YouTube Face is most prominent in the preview images for videos. It surrounds whatever video you’re watching in a big grid of emotion.

C&C Whither Tartaria?.

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