Katie Mondlock, UCLA
in CAA Reviews Summer 2001
William Wagner, UCSB
Lev Manovich's book, "The Language of New Media" shows how media has evolved through many decades. The book emphasizes on how the computer has played a central role in shaping media. This book resulted from extensive research by Manovich, and he classified media based on historical and critical criteria.
principles of new media:
numerical representation: “All new media objects, whether they are created from scratch on computers or converted from analog media sources, are composed of digital code; they are numerical representations” (49).
modularity: “This principle can be called "fractal structure of new media.” Just as a fractal has the same structure on different scales, a new media object has the same modular structure throughout” (51).
automation: “Numerical coding of media (numerical representations) and modular structure of a media object (modularity) allow automating many operations involved in media creation, manipulation and access. Thus human intentionally can be removed from the creative process, at least in part” (53).
variability: “A new media object is not something fixed once and for all but can exist in different, potentially infinite, versions” (56).
transcoding: Manovich makes his final point on trans-coding. He explains that in new media, it’s almost all created, distributed, stored, and archived on computers. Computer are all written in code, and cannot be understood in it’s natural form by human beings. Over time, we have written the languages for computers to help us understand this data.
In this video the author Lev Manovich, who is also a Professor of the Department of Visual Arts at University of California San Diego discusses his research. He talks about how he uses technology to study history and contemporary culture. He also demonstrates how technology has helped in gathering, and analyzing ancient art in a better way today. His expertise in the field of new media can help other scholars in looking at culture from a completely different perspective. Purely based on images, graphs, and few other properties Manovich capably presents us with his research methods.
Manovich's book focuses on the history of the field rather than speculating about the future. Manovich writes, "Most writings on new media are full of speculation about the future...This book, in contrast, analyses (sic) new media as it has actually developed until the present moment, while pointing to directions for new media artists and designers that have yet to be explored" (10). Bradley Dilger of the University of Florida recognizes this phenomenon in Manovich's text. He writes, "The book's focus on the present, and its overall coherence and attention to detail, differentiates The Language of New Media from other books in the field. Manovich's work builds a concise group of principles for analyzing new media. Its most important argument is the careful development of a record of the present state of new media which focuses on the complex relationship between cinema and new media."
"Manovich argues that computer and culture influence each other," Dilger continues. "Of course, this is not a groundbreaking assertion, but embedding that relationship into the theory of new media sets a tone for the text and distinguishes Manovich's work from others which portray the relationship deterministically."