Rhetoric of Machine Aesthetics

By Barry Brummett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Chaotech: Aesthetics of the Decayed Machine

There is a category of aesthetic experience of machines that is qualitatively different from the others. I refer to the aesthetic appeal of decayed machines. This is the sensibility that finds artistic joy in junk yards, disemboweled televisions, and automobile graveyards. It is the sensibility of the young person enjoying the "Industrial" scene in dark clubs, listening to music inspired by the sounds of factories. This is the aesthetic of dark visions of science fiction, filled with dysfunctional machines cobbled together from odd parts of dying computers and engines.

Chaotech, or the aesthetic of the decayed machine, is distinctive in not taking machines on their own original terms. Instead, it experiences machines as changed, as something other than what they originally were. In this sense chaotech is ironic, keeping a knowing distance from its object, deriving pleasure from understanding what a machine once did and once was but is and does no longer. In this chapter we will first consider evidence indicating that there really is an aesthetic of the decayed machine and we will look for some root causes and contexts for that aesthetic. Then we will use our nine dimensions of machine aesthetics to understand what constitutes chaotech.

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