Integration of the “New Aesthetic”

The term “new aesthetic,” coined by James Bridle describes it as “a way to refer to the growing appearance of the visual Internet in the physical world, emphasizing the blending of the two. In simple form, it is a way of merging internet “stuff” with existing reality.”

At first, I did not fully understand what the term meant, so I decided to look up a handful of visual examples, and quickly, it began to make sense. For example, a popular social media artist MLMA, or better known as @melovemealot, uses digital art to transform her regular videos and photographs into eye-catching content. Below you can see a couple of examples of how she had used technology to her advantage when producing works of art.

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Now that both you and I have a better grasp of what this all means, I want to dive further into how people are profiting off of their “New Aesthetic” creations. For some time now I have been following an influencer on Instagram that goes by the name Lilmiquela (@lilmiquela). She has an already large following of two million, which continues to increase as time goes on. Aside from her trendy posts and urban style, it is her physical make-up that draws in the growing number of viewers, and not in the way you may be thinking

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Again, she seems like she is just another teen from Los Angeles. However, if you happened to take a closer look at these photos, you might have noticed what is different about her. In fact, there is a lot. If you still have not figured it out, she is completely computer-generated… an avatar of sorts. She was created in 2016 and since then has been pushing relatable, aspiring, and seemingly popular content. She seemingly fits right into what Instagram has come to show as an “ideal influencer”. Not only this, but the added details of her existence put the cherry on top. She has flyaways in her hair, produces shadows, and of course, has a relatable or “real” personality.

What makes this interesting though is the impact that Miquela has been able to make. Outside of being the first computer-generated social influencer, she has also worked with a number of famous clothing brands including Chanel, Burberry, and Fendi. She has also been photographed with a number of notable celebrities throughout her time on and off Instagram’s platform.

Above is a campaign video for the well-known clothing brand, Calvin Klein. Sure, posing in photos wearing some of fashion’s biggest brands, and even interviewing J Balvin are some big accomplishments, but sharing a kiss in full CK with Bella Hadid? This is at the top of the list of things that don’t seem to be adding up.

More importantly, what is all of this saying about us and the growing world of technology?

We are integrating. We are, whether we realize it or not, welcoming them into the mainstream. When thinking about the video, it was likely made to be a spectacle and draw attention to the new season of clothing, rather than just the casual inclusion of a virtual being. That being said, this does not take away from the fact that digital beings are crossing over into reality. With the increasing amount of technological devices and the growing number of social media platforms, it can in some way seem reasonable.

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Here is Miquela getting comfortable in a photo with her two creators Trevor Mcfredries and Sara Dacau. They are co-founders of the company Brud who have pioneered the integration of computer-generated people into mainstream media. Although we don’t have a definite purpose as to why she was created, it is evident that advertising has played a huge role in its success.

After Miquela showed a significant amount of growth online, the founding company, Brud, received six million in venture capital funds. Alongside this, they have made quite a bit of money off of brand deals, interviews, and even Spotify music, where Miquela hit a top 10 on the platform. McFredries and Dacau have been vocal about the donations they have been able to make through their creation. Giving aid to the California Wildfire Relief Fund as well as the Black Girls Code NGO.

The pair have even gone as far as to create friends for Miquela; Blawko22, and Bermuda. All of them have different personalities who have had conflicts surrounding things like politics from time to time. This further pushes the idea that with a certain amount of thought and detailed work, we have the ability to welcome them into a world that was made for humans only. It’s up to the rest of us to decide if we should be concerned or impressed at the thought of digital mimicry.

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