Lev Manovich

Lev Manovich is Professor of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego. His book The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001) has been hailed as "the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan."

  • Soft Cinema

    Soft Cinema

    Navigating the Database

    Lev Manovich and Andreas Kratky

    Leading artists from different cultural fields collaborate on three films that explore the aesthetic possibilities of computer-driven cinema.

    What kind of cinema is appropriate for the age of Palm Pilot and Google? Automatic surveillance and self-guided missiles? Consumer profiling and CNN? To investigate this question, Lev Manovich, one of today's most influential thinkers in the fields of media arts and digital culture, paired with award-winning new media artist and designer Andreas Kratky. They have also invited contributions from leaders in other cultural fields: DJ Spooky, Scanner, George Lewis, and Johann Johannsson (music), servo (architecture), Schoenerwissen/OfCD (information visualization), and Ross Cooper Studios (media design). The results of their three-year explorations are the three "films" presented on this DVD. Although the films resemble the familiar genres of cinema, the process by which they were created demonstrates the possibilities of soft(ware) cinema. A "cinema," that is, in which human subjectivity and the variable choices made by custom software combine to create films that can run infinitely without ever exactly repeating the same image sequences, screen layouts and narratives. Mission to Earth, a science fiction allegory of the immigrant experience, adopts the variable choices and multi-frame layout of the Soft Cinema system to represent "variable identity." Absences is a lyrical black and white narrative that relies on algorithms normally deployed in military and civilian surveillance applications to determine the editing of video and audio. Texas, a "database narrative," assembles its visuals, sounds, narratives, and even the identities of its characters, from multiple databases. The DVD was designed so that every viewing of each film generates a different version.

    • DVD-Video $32.00 £26.95
  • The Language of New Media

    The Language of New Media

    Lev Manovich

    A stimulating, eclectic accountof new media that finds its origins in old media, particularly the cinema.

    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.

    • Hardcover $34.95 £24.95
    • Paperback $35.95 £28.00

Contributor

  • The Software Arts

    Warren Sack

    An alternative history of software that places the liberal arts at the very center of software's evolution.

    In The Software Arts, Warren Sack offers an alternative history of computing that places the arts at the very center of software's evolution. Tracing the origins of software to eighteenth-century French encyclopedists' step-by-step descriptions of how things were made in the workshops of artists and artisans, Sack shows that programming languages are the offspring of an effort to describe the mechanical arts in the language of the liberal arts.

    Sack offers a reading of the texts of computing—code, algorithms, and technical papers—that emphasizes continuity between prose and programs. He translates concepts and categories from the liberal and mechanical arts—including logic, rhetoric, grammar, learning, algorithm, language, and simulation—into terms of computer science and then considers their further translation into popular culture, where they circulate as forms of digital life. He considers, among other topics, the “arithmetization” of knowledge that presaged digitization; today's multitude of logics; the history of demonstration, from deduction to newer forms of persuasion; and the post-Chomsky absence of meaning in grammar. With The Software Arts, Sack invites artists and humanists to see how their ideas are at the root of software and invites computer scientists to envision themselves as artists and humanists.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £30.00
  • Coding Literacy

    Coding Literacy

    How Computer Programming Is Changing Writing

    Annette Vee

    How the theoretical tools of literacy help us understand programming in its historical, social and conceptual contexts.

    The message from educators, the tech community, and even politicians is clear: everyone should learn to code. To emphasize the universality and importance of computer programming, promoters of coding for everyone often invoke the concept of “literacy,” drawing parallels between reading and writing code and reading and writing text. In this book, Annette Vee examines the coding-as-literacy analogy and argues that it can be an apt rhetorical frame. The theoretical tools of literacy help us understand programming beyond a technical level, and in its historical, social, and conceptual contexts. Viewing programming from the perspective of literacy and literacy from the perspective of programming, she argues, shifts our understandings of both. Computer programming becomes part of an array of communication skills important in everyday life, and literacy, augmented by programming, becomes more capacious.

    Vee examines the ways that programming is linked with literacy in coding literacy campaigns, considering the ideologies that accompany this coupling, and she looks at how both writing and programming encode and distribute information. She explores historical parallels between writing and programming, using the evolution of mass textual literacy to shed light on the trajectory of code from military and government infrastructure to large-scale businesses to personal use. Writing and coding were institutionalized, domesticated, and then established as a basis for literacy. Just as societies demonstrated a “literate mentality” regardless of the literate status of individuals, Vee argues, a “computational mentality” is now emerging even though coding is still a specialized skill.

    • Hardcover $34.00 £27.00
  • The Stack

    The Stack

    On Software and Sovereignty

    Benjamin H. Bratton

    A comprehensive political and design theory of planetary-scale computation proposing that The Stack—an accidental megastructure—is both a technological apparatus and a model for a new geopolitical architecture.

    What has planetary-scale computation done to our geopolitical realities? It takes different forms at different scales—from energy and mineral sourcing and subterranean cloud infrastructure to urban software and massive universal addressing systems; from interfaces drawn by the augmentation of the hand and eye to users identified by self—quantification and the arrival of legions of sensors, algorithms, and robots. Together, how do these distort and deform modern political geographies and produce new territories in their own image?

    In The Stack, Benjamin Bratton proposes that these different genres of computation—smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation—can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure called The Stack that is both a computational apparatus and a new governing architecture. We are inside The Stack and it is inside of us. 

    In an account that is both theoretical and technical, drawing on political philosophy, architectural theory, and software studies, Bratton explores six layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, Address, Interface, User. Each is mapped on its own terms and understood as a component within the larger whole built from hard and soft systems intermingling—not only computational forms but also social, human, and physical forces. This model, informed by the logic of the multilayered structure of protocol “stacks,” in which network technologies operate within a modular and vertical order, offers a comprehensive image of our emerging infrastructure and a platform for its ongoing reinvention. 

    The Stack is an interdisciplinary design brief for a new geopolitics that works with and for planetary-scale computation. Interweaving the continental, urban, and perceptual scales, it shows how we can better build, dwell within, communicate with, and govern our worlds.

    thestack.org

    • Hardcover $40.00 £30.00
  • The Imaginary App

    The Imaginary App

    Paul D. Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko

    The mobile app as technique and imaginary tool, offering a shortcut to instantaneous connection and entertainment.

    Mobile apps promise to deliver (h)appiness to our devices at the touch of a finger or two. Apps offer gratifyingly immediate access to connection and entertainment. The array of apps downloadable from the app store may come from the cloud, but they attach themselves firmly to our individual movement from location to location on earth. In The Imaginary App, writers, theorists, and artists—including Stephen Wolfram (in conversation with Paul Miller) and Lev Manovich—explore the cultural and technological shifts that have accompanied the emergence of the mobile app. These contributors and interviewees see apps variously as “a machine of transcendence,” “a hulking wound in our nervous system,” or “a promise of new possibilities.” They ask whether the app is an object or a relation, and if it could be a “metamedium” that supersedes all other artistic media. They consider the control and power exercised by software architecture; the app's prosthetic ability to enhance certain human capacities, in reality or in imagination; the app economy, and the divergent possibilities it offers of making a living or making a fortune; and the app as medium and remediator of reality.

    Also included (and documented in color) are selected projects by artists asked to design truly imaginary apps, “icons of the impossible.” These include a female sexual arousal graph using Doppler images; “The Ultimate App,” which accepts a payment and then closes, without providing information or functionality; and “iLuck,” which uses GPS technology and four-leaf-clover icons to mark places where luck might be found.

    Contributors Christian Ulrik Andersen, Thierry Bardini, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, Benjamin H. Bratton, Drew S. Burk, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Robbie Cormier, Dock Currie, Dal Yong Jin, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Ryan and Hays Holladay, Atle Mikkola Kjøsen, Eric Kluitenberg, Lev Manovich, Vincent Manzerolle, Svitlana Matviyenko, Dan Mellamphy, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Steven Millward, Anna Munster, Søren Bro Pold, Chris Richards, Scott Snibbe, Nick Srnicek, Stephen Wolfram

    • Hardcover $30.95 £24.00
  • 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

    10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

    Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter

    A single line of code offers a way to understand the cultural context of computing.

    This book takes a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text—in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources—that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.

    • Hardcover $32.00 £23.95
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Speaking Code

    Speaking Code

    Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression

    Geoff Cox and Alex McLean

    The aesthetic and political implications of working with code as procedure, expression, and action.

    Speaking Code begins by invoking the “Hello World” convention used by programmers when learning a new language, helping to establish the interplay of text and code that runs through the book. Interweaving the voice of critical writing from the humanities with the tradition of computing and software development, in Speaking Code Geoff Cox formulates an argument that aims to undermine the distinctions between criticism and practice and to emphasize the aesthetic and political implications of software studies.

    Not reducible to its functional aspects, program code mirrors the instability inherent in the relationship of speech to language; it is only interpretable in the context of its distribution and network of operations. Code is understood as both script and performance, Cox argues, and is in this sense like spoken language—always ready for action.

    Speaking Code examines the expressive and performative aspects of programming; alternatives to mainstream development, from performances of the live-coding scene to the organizational forms of peer production; the democratic promise of social media and their actual role in suppressing political expression; and the market's emptying out of possibilities for free expression in the public realm. Cox defends language against its invasion by economics, arguing that speech continues to underscore the human condition, however paradoxical this may seem in an era of pervasive computing.

    • Hardcover $36.00 £28.00
  • Throughout

    Throughout

    Art and Culture Emerging with Ubiquitous Computing

    Ulrik Ekman

    Leading media scholars consider the social and cultural changes that come with the contemporary development of ubiquitous computing.

    Ubiquitous computing and our cultural life promise to become completely interwoven: technical currents feed into our screen culture of digital television, video, home computers, movies, and high-resolution advertising displays. Technology has become at once larger and smaller, mobile and ambient. In Throughout, leading writers on new media—including Jay David Bolter, Mark Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Lev Manovich—take on the crucial challenges that ubiquitous and pervasive computing pose for cultural theory and criticism.

    The thirty-four contributing researchers consider the visual sense and sensations of living with a ubicomp culture; electronic sounds from the uncanny to the unremarkable; the effects of ubicomp on communication, including mobility, transmateriality, and infinite availability; general trends and concrete specificities of interaction designs; the affectivity in ubicomp experiences, including performances; context awareness; and claims on the “real” in the use of such terms as “augmented reality” and “mixed reality.”

    • Hardcover $58.00 £45.00
  • Imagery in the 21st Century

    Imagery in the 21st Century

    Oliver Grau

    Scholars from science, art, and humanities explore the meaning of our new image worlds and offer new strategies for visual analysis.

    We are surrounded by images as never before: on Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube; on thousands of television channels; in digital games and virtual worlds; in media art and science. Without new efforts to visualize complex ideas, structures, and systems, today's information explosion would be unmanageable. The digital image represents endless options for manipulation; images seem capable of changing interactively or even autonomously. This volume offers systematic and interdisciplinary reflections on these new image worlds and new analytical approaches to the visual.

    Imagery in the 21st Century examines this revolution in various fields, with researchers from the natural sciences and the humanities meeting to achieve a deeper understanding of the meaning and impact of the image in our time. The contributors explore and discuss new critical terms of multidisciplinary scope, from database economy to the dramaturgy of hypermedia, from visualizations in neuroscience to the image in bio art. They consider the power of the image in the development of human consciousness, pursue new definitions of visual phenomena, and examine new tools for image research and visual analysis.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £35.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £27.00
  • The Machinima Reader

    The Machinima Reader

    Henry Lowood and Michael Nitsche

    The first critical overview of an emerging field, with contributions from both scholars and artist-practitioners.

    Over the last decade, machinima—the use of computer game engines to create movies—has emerged as a vibrant area in digital culture. Machinima as a filmmaking tool grew from the bottom up, driven by enthusiasts who taught themselves to deploy technologies from computer games to create animated films quickly and cheaply. The Machinima Reader is the first critical overview of this rapidly developing field. The contributors include both academics and artist-practitioners. They explore machinima from multiple perspectives, ranging from technical aspects of machinima, from real-time production to machinima as a performative and cinematic medium, while paying close attention to the legal, cultural, and pedagogical contexts for machinima. The Machinima Reader extends critical debates originating within the machinima community to a wider audience and provides a foundation for scholarly work from a variety of disciplines. This is the first book to chart the emergence of machinima as a game-based cultural production that spans technologies and media, forming new communities of practice on its way to a history, an aesthetic, and a market.

    • Hardcover $42.00 £33.00
  • Programmed Visions

    Programmed Visions

    Software and Memory

    Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

    A theoretical examination of the surprising emergence of software as a guiding metaphor for our neoliberal world.

    New media thrives on cycles of obsolescence and renewal: from celebrations of cyber-everything to Y2K, from the dot-com bust to the next big things—mobile mobs, Web 3.0, cloud computing. In Programmed Visions, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun argues that these cycles result in part from the ways in which new media encapsulates a logic of programmability. New media proliferates “programmed visions,” which seek to shape and predict—even embody—a future based on past data. These programmed visions have also made computers, based on metaphor, metaphors for metaphor itself, for a general logic of substitutability.

    Chun argues that the clarity offered by software as metaphor should make us pause, because software also engenders a profound sense of ignorance: who knows what lurks behind our smiling interfaces, behind the objects we click and manipulate? The combination of what can be seen and not seen, known (knowable) and not known—its separation of interface from algorithm and software from hardware—makes it a powerful metaphor for everything we believe is invisible yet generates visible, logical effects, from genetics to the invisible hand of the market, from ideology to culture.

    • Hardcover $34.00 £23.95
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Code/Space

    Code/Space

    Software and Everyday Life

    Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge

    An analysis of the ways that software creates new spatialities in everyday life, from supermarket checkout lines to airline flight paths.

    After little more than half a century since its initial development, computer code is extensively and intimately woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. From the digital alarm clock that wakes us to the air traffic control system that guides our plane in for a landing, software is shaping our world: it creates new ways of undertaking tasks, speeds up and automates existing practices, transforms social and economic relations, and offers new forms of cultural activity, personal empowerment, and modes of play. In Code/Space, Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge examine software from a spatial perspective, analyzing the dyadic relationship of software and space. The production of space, they argue, is increasingly dependent on code, and code is written to produce space. Examples of code/space include airport check-in areas, networked offices, and cafés that are transformed into workspaces by laptops and wireless access. Kitchin and Dodge argue that software, through its ability to do work in the world, transduces space. Then Kitchin and Dodge develop a set of conceptual tools for identifying and understanding the interrelationship of software, space, and everyday life, and illustrate their arguments with rich empirical material. And, finally, they issue a manifesto, calling for critical scholarship into the production and workings of code rather than simply the technologies it enables—a new kind of social science focused on explaining the social, economic, and spatial contours of software.

    • Hardcover $41.00 £32.00
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Expressive Processing

    Expressive Processing

    Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies

    Noah Wardrip-Fruin

    From the complex city-planning game SimCity to the virtual therapist Eliza: how computational processes open possibilities for understanding and creating digital media.

    What matters in understanding digital media? Is looking at the external appearance and audience experience of software enough—or should we look further? In Expressive Processing, Noah Wardrip-Fruin argues that understanding what goes on beneath the surface, the computational processes that make digital media function, is essential.

    Wardrip-Fruin looks at “expressive processing” by examining specific works of digital media ranging from the simulated therapist Eliza to the complex city-planning game SimCity. Digital media, he contends, offer particularly intelligible examples of things we need to understand about software in general; if we understand, for instance, the capabilities and histories of artificial intelligence techniques in the context of a computer game, we can use that understanding to judge the use of similar techniques in such higher-stakes social contexts as surveillance.

    • Hardcover $36.95 £25.95
    • Paperback $35.95 £28.00
  • MediaArtHistories

    MediaArtHistories

    Oliver Grau

    Leading scholars take a wider view of new media, placing it in the context of art history and acknowledging the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach in new media art studies and practice.

    Digital art has become a major contemporary art form, but it has yet to achieve acceptance from mainstream cultural institutions; it is rarely collected, and seldom included in the study of art history or other academic disciplines. In MediaArtHistories, leading scholars seek to change this. They take a wider view of media art, placing it against the backdrop of art history. Their essays demonstrate that today's media art cannot be understood by technological details alone; it cannot be understood without its history, and it must be understood in proximity to other disciplines—film, cultural and media studies, computer science, philosophy, and sciences dealing with images.

    Contributors trace the evolution of digital art, from thirteenth-century Islamic mechanical devices and eighteenth-century phantasmagoria, magic lanterns, and other multimedia illusions, to Marcel Duchamp's inventions and 1960s kinetic and op art. They reexamine and redefine key media art theory terms—machine, media, exhibition—and consider the blurred dividing lines between art products and consumer products and between art images and science images. Finally, MediaArtHistories offers an approach for an interdisciplinary, expanded image science, which needs the "trained eye" of art history.

    Contributors Rudlof Arnheim, Andreas Broeckmann, Ron Burnett, Edmond Couchot, Sean Cubitt, Dieter Daniels, Felice Frankel, Oliver Grau, Erkki Huhtamo, Douglas Kahn, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Machiko Kusahara, Timothy Lenoir, Lev Manovich, W.J.T. Mitchell, Gunalan Nadarajan, Christiane Paul, Louise Poissant, Edward A. Shanken, Barbara Maria Stafford, and Peter Weibel

    • Hardcover $43.00 £29.95
    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00