Reaching Aesthetic Nirvana

by MarianneShih

While evaluating a friend’s website during my new media course the other day, I became vividly aware of how my own personal tastes differed from his.

I consider myself fairly open-minded when it comes to aesthetics. I admire simple, thoughtful, clean, and elegant design. I’m also a sucker for the abstract and surreal. Macabre is completely within the bounds of my comfort circle, I love attention to detail, and I love color just as much as I love the absence of it.


Mark Rothko - No. 14

Here’s a screenshot of my website – you can click on the image to visit it.


The background image is Yves Klein’s “Hommage a Tennessee Williams,” which I found while wandering the incredible Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. this past summer.

Though I won’t be showing a screenshot of his website, I will say that it was a great deal more colorful and flashy. His use of graphics was far more complex and advanced than I probably would have ever tried for, and while it was not at all in accordance with my visual preferences, it clearly showed one thing that my website did not.

His targeted audience was people who were immersed or interested in rave culture. There was a section for music, a section for upcoming events, an entire page devoted to commentary… and mine? It seemed work-centric and maybe boring in comparison. However, it’s also a reflection on things that matter to me, and things about me that matter to others. I don’t go to raves or clubs. I don’t even like loud restaurants. I spend almost all my downtime outside of academia and work, sketching, creating, and finding new things. So what if that makes me ‘boring?’

I will admit that my page is far from flawless. I’m not trying to attract certain culture participants, but rather, others who have an interest in the “art” that goes on in my head and my other activities. Luxirare, one of the websites I frequent on a regular basis, is officially dedicated to clothing and cuisine, but attracts visitors of all kinds due to Ji Kim’s workmanship, unique aesthetic taste,  and addictive quality of being able to turn dream-like designs into reality.

The characteristics of aesthetic nirvana varies with every individual. Discovering your visual niche is a process that can take a lifetime, but those who do find it are better able to incorporate seamless continuity into their interior design, personal style, or websites. Some, like my friend, will find it in exciting arrangements designed to draw the eye from one focus point to another. Others will relish in organic lines and shapes (see Maison Martin Margiela). Whichever one chooses, consciously reaching this too-often ignored state gives a person a certain kind of peace that conventional spiritual beliefs are unable to provide.