Posts Tagged ‘ Manovich ’


Less than two weeks ago House of Radon launched a movie on new media: PressPausePlay. I watched it about a week ago and I can’t help but say – it is pretty great.

Press Pause Play tells the story of new media (mostly through music industry examples). I love it. Just before I watched it I read “The Language of New Media” by Manovich – a book I think every wannabe-big-in-today’s-media-business should get to know by heart. It is funny how overall the book(mostly through imagery examples, cinema, video games, AL, AI, online interfaces) and the movie talk about the same principles. The film though is a lot more practical.

Numerical representation, Modularity, Automation, Variability and Transcoding*  form the base of everything we call New Media. Every one of those principles can be pictured by sounds or images. The key is in understanding how actually these work. How they change our perception of creativity, talent, and what is needed to build something that matters. Manovich has a theory on how HCI(human-computer interfaces) become now Human-Computer-Culture Interfaces. This happens because almost every peace of culture can be transformed into a new media object. In this way of thinking we can get to the conclusion that culture as a product is now dependent on the principles above. This by it’s own means opens the discussion on how this stronger than ever link between culture and industry changes the very heart of the meaning of these two terms. Does industry still exist? Is it necessary to play by it’s rules in order to succeed? And on the other hand: Is there still such thing as culture? Or is it all so easy today that everyone is now a creator? Is it good or bad that we all have the chance to be artists? Does it give us opportunities that we have never dreamed about? Or does it all become a sea of untalented bullshit in which the true art gets lost? All those questions are so complex and in the end… does it even matter?

I loved Press Pause Play. It gives a really interesting point of view about all those things. The examples they make are awesome. And overall the film inspired me to be. To live today, to be proud of when my life happens.


1.  Numerical representation
All objects of the new media consist of digital code. It follows that they can be described formally (through a mathematical function) and that they can submit an algorithmic manipulation. Thus, media are programmable.

2.  Modularity
Objects of the new media have a modular or fractal structure, they consist of discrete elements, which retain their independence, even if they are combined to form larger objects.
Example: The individual elements of a Web site, Web page, a text, etc.

3. Automation
Numerical representation and modularity allow the automation
of many operations in the media creation, manipulation and the media access, so that “human intentionality can be removed at least partially out of the creative process.”
Examples of media creation and manipulation: Photoshop filters, Layout Wizard, dynamically generated web pages (“low-level automation”), AI in computer games (“high-level automation”), for example, media access: search engines

4. Variability
From the previously mentioned principles followed by the variability (or liquidity): An object of the new media is not something fixed once and for all, it exists in different, infinitely many versions. The logic of new media thus corresponds with the post-industrial logic of production to demand. Because the same machine, both for manufacturing as well as being used for the demonstration, the customized version in response to input from the user will be delivered almost immediately. Everything can be variably defined, the user must make the decisions.
Examples: media databases, separation of content and interface, ‘customization’ of software or websites, scalability, branching navigation

5. Transcoding
For Manovich, the “most substantial consequence of computerization of the media” is the transcoding – the translation into another format. While the computerized media on the one hand, yet still have structures for people to understand their structure, on the other side now follows the conventions of the organization of data on the computer. The computer-level of the new media influence the cultural level. Cultural categories and concepts will be replaced at the level of significance and terminology with new ones that come from the ontology, epistemology and pragmatics of the computer.