"Creative technology has slowed while social and information distribution technology has swelled. Everyone is making music on similar devices and pirated software at this point (the days of scrounging up whatever drum machines that fell off of the back of a truck are behind us). And everyone is studying the same YouTube tutorials to achieve the same tone of high-brow refinement. Whereas artists once worked blindly in their individual bubbles, they’re now equipped with the same instruction manuals and a uniform set of tools. Thus, replication and refinement are the mottos of the day, at the expense of all the amazing mistakes that used to come with the act of simply getting in there and figuring it out. Now that it's theoretically as easy to make something that's pretty as it is to make something that's not, how will rap ever be ugly again?"
-- interesting, vaguely retromania / "innovation-drought" related thought in a recent Pitchfork piece by Andrew Nosnitsky that mostly concerns the sonics of recent hip hop and how creative error and aestheticized mistakes have largely disappeared from the genre
that chimes, albeit dissonantly, with a point I made in this interview (flagging an upcoming lecture at the Corcoran art college in Washington, D.C.) about how digiculture had rendered the aesthetic of DIY irrelevant, just a style to be adopted as a retro choice rather than as the "natural" byproduct of trying to express oneself through limited means:
"I’m.. not sure that the equation between “do it yourself” and
“untrained” holds anymore, if “untrained” is meant to signify
amateurish, messy, raw, etc. Because digital facilitation software means
that you can produce really glossy, polished, professional sounding and
looking stuff at minimal cost. To be lo-fi, ragged, etc. is a
deliberate aesthetic choice, a refusal of professionalism—in some ways
more contrived than just letting your progams tidy up your work. The
kind of “brut”-like authenticity or raw power that was once attributed
to unfinished or messy, defective music/art/etc.—that equation no longer
works, I don’t think. If you listen to a lot of “underground” (another
word that is increasingly vaporous and unstable these days) music, it’s
actually pretty slick and shiny."
(first part of the interview here)
in other words, "ugly" doesn't signify what it once used to, what N seems to half-hope it still could if we all refused the sterilising and standardising software i.e. gritty, realness, underground, authentic, street, subaltern
then again, while an "insufferable plasticine cleanness" could be said to be ubiquitous in pop from top to bottom, a high-definition sharpness brightness crispness.... there are also clearly new forms of digital-specific "ugly" that have emerged -- particular kinds of distortion and overload due to compression (sidechain, brickwall limiting, etc), clipping, AutoTune fuckery, the maxed out / "crest of burn out" aesthetic as dissected by It's Her Factory...