Peter Lunenfeld

Peter Lunenfeld is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA.

  • Digital_Humanities

    Digital_Humanities

    Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp

    A visionary report on the revitalization of the liberal arts tradition in the electronically inflected, design-driven, multimedia language of the twenty-first century.

    Digital_Humanities is a compact, game-changing report on the state of contemporary knowledge production. Answering the question “What is digital humanities?,” it provides an in-depth examination of an emerging field. This collaboratively authored and visually compelling volume explores methodologies and techniques unfamiliar to traditional modes of humanistic inquiry—including geospatial analysis, data mining, corpus linguistics, visualization, and simulation—to show their relevance for contemporary culture. Written by five leading practitioner-theorists whose varied backgrounds embody the intellectual and creative diversity of the field, Digital_Humanities is a vision statement for the future, an invitation to engage, and a critical tool for understanding the shape of new scholarship.

    • Hardcover $27.95 £22.00
    • Paperback $22.95 £17.99
  • The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading

    The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading

    Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine

    Peter Lunenfeld

    As we hurtle into the twenty-first century, will we be passive downloaders of content or active uploaders of meaning?

    The computer, writes Peter Lunenfeld, is the twenty-first century's culture machine. It is a dream device, serving as the mode of production, the means of distribution, and the site of reception. We haven't quite achieved the flying cars and robot butlers of futurist fantasies, but we do have a machine that can function as a typewriter and a printing press, a paintbrush and a gallery, a piano and a radio, the mail as well as the mail carier. But, warns Lunenfeld, we should temper our celebration with caution; we are engaged in a secret war between downloading and uploading—between passive consumption and active creation—and the outcome will shape our collective futures.

    In The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading, Lunenfeld makes his case for using digital technologies to shift us from a consumption to a production model. He describes television as the “the high fructose corn syrup of the imagination” and worries that it can cause “cultural diabetes”; prescribes mindful downloading, meaningful uploading, and “info-triage” as cures; and offers tips for crafting “bespoke futures” in what he terms the era of “Web n.0” (interconnectivity to the nth power). He also offers a stand-alone genealogy of digital visionaries, distilling a history of the culture machine that runs from the Patriarchs (Vannevar Bush's WWII generation) to the Hustlers (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) to the Searchers (Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google fame). After half a century of television-conditioned consumption/downloading, Lunenfeld tells us, we now find ourselves with a vast new infrastructure for uploading. We simply need to find the will to make the best of it.

    • Hardcover $25.95 £20.00
  • User

    User

    InfoTechnoDemo

    Peter Lunenfeld

    Doing theory and criticism in real time: essays on subjects ranging from art and industrial design to The Matrix and Web porn.

    In these essays, Peter Lunenfeld does theory and criticism "in real time," looking at (among other subjects) art, video games, book design, "techno-masturbation," The Matrix, and life extension diets. "Readers will have to determine for themselves," he writes, "if this range is symptomatic of pluralism or promiscuity." User illuminates the patterns and repetitions that link—for example—nanotechnology to electronic music, artist/archivist Harry Smith to architect/superstar Rem Koolhaas, Pontiacs to open source software. And User offers a reading experience that is more vivid than most: Mieke Gerritzen's bold visuals create a book that is also a designed object—a compact matrix of words and image as potent as a smart bomb.User is not a manifesto. Lunenfeld means these essays—which were written originally for the international magazine artext—to be translator utilities, bridging the gap between the art world and the design establishment, between journalism and the seminar room. Pondering the "permanent present" of today's visual culture, Lunenfeld blames the twenty-first century's inability to imagine the future on a movie and an interface: the too-influential aesthetic of Blade Runner and the ubiquitous desktop of nested files, icons, trash cans, and cascading windows, he argues, have become impediments to our thinking beyond the present. Lunenfeld writes about Euro-Disney, Matthew Barney, the VHS pornucopia that killed off Betamax, the computer as a "solitude enhancement machine," our embarrassing Y2K hysteria (when TEOTWAWKI—The End of the World As We Know It—didn't happen), and other faces of what he calls "that overwhelming diversity which for lack of a better term we call the present."

    • Paperback $28.95 £23.00
  • Snap to Grid

    Snap to Grid

    A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures

    Peter Lunenfeld

    A vibrant guide to the artistic, cultural, and social faces of the new media.

    In Snap to Grid, an idiosyncratic guide to the interactive, telematic era, Peter Lunenfeld maps out the trajectories that digital technologies have traced upon our cultural imaginary. His clear-eyed evaluation of new media includes an impassioned discussion—informed by the discourses of technology, aesthetics, and cultural theory—of the digital artists, designers, and makers who matter most. "Snap to grid" is a command that instructs the computer to take hand-drawn lines and plot them precisely in Cartesian space. Users regularly disable this function the moment they open an application because the gains in predictability and accuracy are balanced against the losses of ambiguity and expressiveness. Lunenfeld uses "snap to grid" as a metaphor for how we manipulate and think about the electronic culture that enfolds us. In this book he snaps his seduction by the machine to the grid of critical thinking. How can we compare new media to established media? Must we revert to a default dichotomy between utopia and desolation, the notion that media, even digital media, by themselves can redeem or damn us? As he answers these and other questions, Lunenfeld takes into account the post-1989 politico-economic context in which new media have developed and grounds the insights of theory in the constraints of production. Artists discussed include Mark Amerika, Char Davies, Hollis Frampton, William Gibson, Gary Hill, Perry Hobermann, JODI, Christian Möller, Adam Ross, Jennifer Steinkamp, Stelarc, and Diana Thater.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £37.95
    • Paperback $22.95 £17.99
  • The Digital Dialectic

    The Digital Dialectic

    New Essays on New Media

    Peter Lunenfeld

    How our visual and intellectual cultures are changed by the new interaction-based media and technologies.

    Computers linked to networks have created the first broadly used systems that allow individuals to create, distribute, and receive audiovisual content with the same box. They challenge theorists of digital culture to develop interaction-based models to replace the more primitive models that allow only passive use.

    The Digital Dialectic is an interdisciplinary jam session about our visual and intellectual cultures as the computer recodes technologies, media, and art forms. Unlike purely academic texts on new media, the book includes contributions by scholars, artists, and entrepreneurs, who combine theoretical investigations with hands-on analysis of the possibilities (and limitations) of new technology. The key concept is the digital dialectic: a method to ground the insights of theory in the constraints of practice. The essays move beyond journalistic reportage and hype into serious but accessible discussion of new technologies, new media, and new cultural forms.

    Contributors Florian Brody, Carol Gigliotti, N. Katherine Hayles, Michael Heim, Erkki Huhtamo, George P. Landow, Brenda Laurel, Peter Lunenfeld, Lev Manovich, William J. Mitchell, Bob Stein

    • Hardcover $62.50
    • Paperback $6.75 £5.95

Contributor

  • Practicable

    Practicable

    From Participation to Interaction in Contemporary Art

    Samuel Bianchini and Erik Verhagen

    Critical analyses, case studies, and artist interviews examine works of art that are realized with the physical involvement of the viewer.

    How are we to understand works of art that are realized with the physical involvement of the viewer? A relationship between a work of art and its audience that is rooted in an experience that is both aesthetic and physical? Today, these works often use digital technologies, but artists have created participatory works since the 1950s. In this book, critics, writers, and artists offer diverse perspectives on this kind of “practicable” art that bridges contemplation and use, discussing and documenting a wide variety of works from the last several decades. The contributors consider both works that are technologically mediated and those that are not, as long as they are characterized by a process of reciprocal exchange.

    The book offers a historical frame for practicable works, discussing, among other things, the emergence and influence of cybernetics. It examines art movements and tendencies that incorporate participatory strategies; draws on the perspectives of the humanities and sciences; and investigate performance and exhibition. Finally, it presents case studies of key works by artists including and offers interviews with such leading artists and theoreticians as Claire Bishop, Thomas Hirschhorn, Matt Adams of Blast Theory, Seiko Mikami and Bruno Latour. Numerous illustrations of artists and their works accompany the text.

    Contributors Matt Adams (Blast Theory), Jean-Christophe Bailly, Samuel Bianchini, Claire Bishop, Jean-Louis Boissier, Nicolas Bourriaud, Christophe Charles, Valérie Châtelet, Jean-Pierre Cometti, Sarah Cook, Jordan Crandall, Dominique Cunin, Nathalie Delbard, Anna Dezeuze, Diedrich Diederichsen, Christophe Domino, Larisa Dryansky, Glória Ferreira, Jean-Paul Fourmentraux, Gilles Froger, Masaki Fujihata, Jean Gagnon, Katrin Gattinger, Jochen Gerz, Piero Gilardi, Véronique Goudinoux, Usman Haque, Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen (HeHe), Jeppe Hein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marion Hohlfeldt, Pierre-Damien Huyghe, Judith Ickowicz, Eric Kluitenberg, Janet Kraynak, Bruno Latour, Christophe Leclercq, Frédérik Lesage, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Peter Lunenfeld, Lawrence Malstaf, Julie Martin, Seiko Mikami, Dominique Moulon, Hiroko Myokam, Ernesto Neto, Mayumi Okura, Eddie Panier, Françoise Parfait, Simon Penny, Daniel Pinkas, Chantal Pontbriand, Emanuele Quinz, Margit Rosen, Alberto Sánchez Balmisa, Frederik Schikowski, Arnd Schneider, Madeline Schwartzman, Luke Skrebowski, Vanessa Theodoropoulou, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andrea Urlberger, Erik Verhagen, Franz Erhard Walther, Peter Weibel, Renate Wiehager, Catherine Wood, Giovanna Zapperi, Anne Zeitz, David Zerbib

    Edited by Samuel Bianchini and Erik Verhagen with the collaboration of Nathalie Delbard and Larisa Dryansky.

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00
  • Sensorium

    Sensorium

    Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art

    Caroline A. Jones

    Artists and writers reconsider the relationship between the body and electronic technology in the twenty-first century through essays, artworks, and an encyclopedic "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium."

    The relationship between the body and electronic technology, extensively theorized through the 1980s and 1990s, has reached a new technosensual comfort zone in the early twenty-first century. In Sensorium, contemporary artists and writers explore the implications of the techno-human interface. Ten artists, chosen by an international team of curators, offer their own edgy investigations of embodied technology and the technologized body. These range from Matthieu Briand's experiment in "controlled schizophrenia" and Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller's uneasy psychological soundscapes to Bruce Nauman's uncanny night visions and François Roche's destabilized architecture. The art in Sensorium—which accompanies an exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center—captures the aesthetic attitude of this hybrid moment, when modernist segmentation of the senses is giving way to dramatic multisensory mixes or transpositions. Artwork by each artist appears with an analytical essay by a curator, all of it prefaced by an anchoring essay on "The Mediated Sensorium" by Caroline Jones. In the second half of Sensorium, scholars, scientists, and writers contribute entries to an "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium." These short, playful pieces include Bruno Latour on "Air," Barbara Maria Stafford on "Hedonics," Michel Foucault (from a little-known 1966 radio lecture) on the "Utopian Body," Donna Haraway on "Compoundings," and Neal Stephenson on the "Viral." Sensorium is both forensic and diagnostic, viewing the culture of the technologized body from the inside, by means of contemporary artists' provocations, and from a distance, in essays that situate it historically and intellectually. Copublished with The MIT List Visual Arts Center.

    • Hardcover $46.95 £37.00
  • Shaping Things

    Shaping Things

    Bruce Sterling

    A guide to the next great wave of technology—an era of objects so programmable that they can be regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.

    "Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it's about everything," writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the Mediawork Pamphlet series. He adds: "Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic."

    Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of "gizmos." New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. The future will see a new kind of object; we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable, that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term "spime" for them, these future-manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won't be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences.

    The vision of Shaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of Lorraine Wild. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers, engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers; and anyone who wants to understand and be part of the process of technosocial transformation.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £31.95
    • Paperback $23.95 £18.99
  • Rhythm Science

    Rhythm Science

    Paul D. Miller

    The art of the mix creates a new language of creativity.

    "Once you get into the flow of things, you're always haunted by the way that things could have turned out. This outcome, that conclusion. You get my drift. The uncertainty is what holds the story together, and that's what I'm going to talk about."—Rhythm Science

    The conceptual artist Paul Miller, also known as Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid, delivers a manifesto for rhythm science—the creation of art from the flow of patterns in sound and culture, "the changing same." Taking the Dj's mix as template, he describes how the artist, navigating the innumerable ways to arrange the mix of cultural ideas and objects that bombard us, uses technology and art to create something new and expressive and endlessly variable. Technology provides the method and model; information on the web, like the elements of a mix, doesn't stay in one place. And technology is the medium, bridging the artist's consciousness and the outside world.

    Miller constructed his Dj Spooky persona ("spooky" from the eerie sounds of hip-hop, techno, ambient, and the other music that he plays) as a conceptual art project, but then came to see it as the opportunity for "coding a generative syntax for new languages of creativity." For example: "Start with the inspiration of George Herriman's Krazy Kat comic strip. Make a track invoking his absurd landscapes...What do tons and tons of air pressure moving in the atmosphere sound like? Make music that acts a metaphor for that kind of immersion or density." Or, for an online "remix" of two works by Marcel Duchamp: "I took a lot of his material written on music and flipped it into a DJ mix of his visual material—with him rhyming!" Tracing the genealogy of rhythm science, Miller cites sources and influences as varied as Ralph Waldo Emerson ("all minds quote"), Grandmaster Flash, W. E. B Dubois, James Joyce, and Eminem. "The story unfolds while the fragments coalesce," he writes.

    Miller's textual provocations are designed for maximum visual and tactile seduction by the international studio COMA (Cornelia Blatter and Marcel Hermans). They sustain the book's motifs of recontextualizing and relayering, texts and images bleed through from page to page, creating what amount to 2.5 dimensional vectors. From its remarkable velvet flesh cover, to the die cut hole through the center of the book, which reveals the colored nub holding in place the included audio CD, Rhythm Science: Excerpts and Allegories from the Sub Rosa Archives, this pamphlet truly lives up to Editorial Director Peter Lunenfeld's claim that the Mediawork Pamphlets are "theoretical fetish objects...'zines for grown-ups."

    • Paperback $43.95 £34.00
  • Design Research

    Design Research

    Methods and Perspectives

    Brenda Laurel

    How the tools of design research can involve designers more directly with objects, products and services they design; from human-centered research methods to formal experimentation, process models, and application to real world design problems.

    The tools of design research, writes Brenda Laurel, will allow designers "to claim and direct the power of their profession." Often neglected in the various curricula of design schools, the new models of design research described in this book help designers to investigate people, form, and process in ways that can make their work more potent and more delightful. "At the very least," Peter Lunenfeld writes in the preface, "design research saves us from reinventing the wheel. At its best, a lively research methodology can reinvigorate the passion that so often fades after designers join the profession."

    The goal of the book is to introduce designers to the many research tools that can be used to inform design as well as to ideas about how and when to deploy them effectively. The chapter authors come from diverse institutions and enterprises, including Stanford University, MIT, Intel, Maxis, Studio Anybody, Sweden's HUMlab, and Big Blue Dot. Each has something to say about how designers make themselves better at what they do through research, and illustrates it with real world examples—case studies, anecdotes, and images. Topics of this multi-voice conversation include qualitative and quantitative methods, performance ethnography and design improvisation, trend research, cultural diversity, formal and structural research practice, tactical discussions of design research process, and case studies drawn from areas as unique as computer games, museum information systems, and movies. Interspersed throughout the book are one-page "demos," snapshots of the design research experience. Design Research charts the paths from research methods to research findings to design principles to design results and demonstrates the transformation of theory into a richly satisfying and more reliably successful practice.

    • Hardcover $53.95 £42.00
  • Writing Machines

    Writing Machines

    N. Katherine Hayles

    A pseudo-autobiographical exploration of the artistic and cultural impact of the transformation of the print book to its electronic incarnations.

    Tracing a journey from the 1950s through the 1990s, N. Katherine Hayles uses the autobiographical persona of Kaye to explore how literature has transformed itself from inscriptions rendered as the flat durable marks of print to the dynamic images of CRT screens, from verbal texts to the diverse sensory modalities of multimedia works, from books to technotexts.

    Weaving together Kaye's pseudo-autobiographical narrative with a theorization of contemporary literature in media-specific terms, Hayles examines the ways in which literary texts in every genre and period mutate as they are reconceived and rewritten for electronic formats. As electronic documents become more pervasive, print appears not as the sea in which we swim, transparent because we are so accustomed to its conventions, but rather as a medium with its own assumptions, specificities, and inscription practices. Hayles explores works that focus on the very inscription technologies that produce them, examining three writing machines in depth: Talan Memmott's groundbreaking electronic work Lexia to Perplexia, Mark Z. Danielewski's cult postprint novel House of Leaves, and Tom Phillips's artist's book A Humument. Hayles concludes by speculating on how technotexts affect the development of contemporary subjectivity.

    Writing Machines is the second volume in the Mediawork Pamphlets series.

    • Hardcover $11.75 £9.95
    • Paperback $27.95 £22.00
  • Utopian Entrepreneur

    Utopian Entrepreneur

    Brenda Laurel

    A guide to doing positive work in the context of business.

    A heady hybrid of critical thinking, personal narrative, and economic analysis, Utopian Entrepreneur is a field manual for those who want to do socially positive work in the context of business. One of the few Silicon Valley veterans who participated in all four of the major computer tech bubbles—games, multimedia, virtual reality, and dot-coms—Brenda Laurel is known for injecting humanistic values into computer-based media.

    Laurel interweaves her ideas on how to conduct socially progressive business with the saga of her experiences with the Interval Research Corporation and as the founder of the pioneering girls' software company Purple Moon.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99
    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99