The Language of New Media

ISBN: 9780262279048 | Copyright 2002

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In this book Lev Manovich offers the first systematic and rigorous theory of new media. He places new media within the histories of visual and media cultures of the last few centuries. He discusses new media's reliance on conventions of old media, such as the rectangular frame and mobile camera, and shows how new media works create the illusion of reality, address the viewer, and represent space. He also analyzes categories and forms unique to new media, such as interface and database.

Manovich uses concepts from film theory, art history, literary theory, and computer science and also develops new theoretical constructs, such as cultural interface, spatial montage, and cinegratography. The theory and history of cinema play a particularly important role in the book. Among other topics, Manovich discusses parallels between the histories of cinema and of new media, digital cinema, screen and montage in cinema and in new media, and historical ties between avant-garde film and new media.

The Language of New Media , Manovich surpasses previous prophets of the new media by uncovering the way that what is new is often rooted in a transformation and rediscovery of the slumbering utopian energies of the past. Manovich not only describes the recent history of new media, but its foundations, and its intellectual and aesthetic debts to such aspects of media history as russian constructivism and early cinema. Striking while the media is still hot, Manovich sees creative possibilites and transformation, yet never falls into the trap of thinking new media have no history or have single-handedly created a new world. His vision is unique, risky, and compelling.

Tom Gunning Professor Art History and Cinema and Media, University of Chicago

This is simply the best book that I have read on the aesthetics of new media. Other authors have often made exaggerated and superficial claims about the novelty of art and design in the new digital technologies. Manovich offers us instead a sober and yet always fresh and exciting analysis of the relationships between new media and their predecessors, especially cinema. As a practicing artist as well as a theorist and historian of media, Manovich can explain the continuities with the past. This sense of history enables him to argue convincingly for the qualities of new media that he believes are truly new.

Jay David Bolter Wesley Chair of New Media, Georgia Institute of Technology, author with Richard Grusin of Remediation

Spend some of your precious time with this book, as time, in every sense, will prove that its succinct and careful analysis of new media is the most fundamental yet dynamic yet made. Lev Manovich's book is an intelligent object; its fractals capacitate a complex, yet accessible linguistic gateway to the history of new media forms, pushing these out of isolation towards tgeir relevant epistemologies in cinema, software development, programming languages, writing and communications theory, yet acknowledging unique qualities. It is a must for filmmakers, communications theorists, television producers, computer scientists, programmers, cultural critics, artists, cultural historians, and designers.

Sara Diamond Artistic Director, Media and Visual Arts, The Banff Centre

Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media is a major event for those of us interested in understanding the nature of electronic literature and art. Deeply informed by an intimate knowledge of computer programming, architecture, and procedures, The Language of New Media combnies theoretical sophistication with rigorous inquiry into electronic processes of signification. Among its contributions are a much more precise vocabulary of New Media than is currently in use within cultural and literary studies; original and brilliant insights into the relation between narrative and database; and a comprehensive treatment of the means by which the cybernetic circuit between user and computer transfigures reading and writing. This is essential reading for anyone interested in literary and artistic uses of new media.

N. Katherine Hayles Professor of English, and Design and New Media, University of California
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Contents (pg. vi)
Foreword (pg. x)
Prologue (pg. xiv)
Acknowledgments (pg. xxxvii)
Introduction (pg. 2)
1 What Is New Media? (pg. 18)
2 The Interface (pg. 62)
3 The Operations (pg. 116)
4 The Illusions (pg. 176)
5 The Forms (pg. 212)
6 What Is Cinema? (pg. 286)
Index (pg. 335)
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