Lev Manovich @V2 Rotterdam

Last thursday Willem – a friend of mine – and I attended a lecture by Lev Manovich at the V2 “Institute for the Unstable Media” in Rotterdam. Quite a number of people showed up, so finding a good place to sit turned out to be problematic. There were two nice seats in front still free, some cocktails on a table next to it, so Willem suggested we sit there ;), but we ended up behind a pillar. Following Lev wasn ‘t always easy, as he spoke a bit incoherently from time to time. Nevertheless, I found his main point interesting: that we should look at new technologies as quantitative change leading to qualitative changes, as well as his remark that all art is in fact a compression of the world.

Lev Manovich

Below the notes I made

051103 Lev Manovich @V2

from www.v2.nl:
Lev Manovich is the author of Soft CInema: Navigating the Database (The MIT Press, 2005), and The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001), which was hailed as “the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan.” He is a Professor of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego, and a Director of The Lab for Cultural Analysis at California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. This Fall he is a researcher in residence at Piet Zwart Institute | Willem de Kooning Academy | Hogeschool Rotterdam.

When increasing quantity, qualitative effect will arise.
Wikipedia:result of scaling up. number of people; speed of editing.
Visual examples:
– BBC Archive online.
– Video iPod
Publicly available content will scale up.
Not isolated, but interconnected. Bruce Sterling – Shaping Things. “All object will become smart and interact” [‘spimes’] http://www.boingboing.net/2005/10/26/bruce_sterlings_desi.html
new technologies (qualitative change) – upscaling existing technologies (much harder to think about consequences – quantitative change). McLuhan wrote about the scale-effect of the railroad.
scale effects:
1. speed – e.g. processor power & computer games. Algorithms for representing image existed already since middle ages: representation of image in ‘pixels’ (example: Dührer).
2. size/resolution – more details, larger screens, wall-sized images leads to new ontology of image: new knowledge of surroundings and world. [effects on perception of “realness” > more detailed, introducing different patterns and textures; effects on representation of reality as ‘narrative’ > visual]
3. volume – real time streaming of content
(Lev keeps on throwing numbers at the audience – part of his rhetoric strategy to argue for quantitative approach to understanding new media)
4. memory/storage – nevertheless compression will remain

All human art can be thought of as compression: condensing individual collective experience into smaller files: experiences, narratives, images. Compression of world view, of habitat into small file.
Example: hat with build-in webcam: recording your life (in low-res).
Language as form of compression. Art used to be doubling: creating a mirror, but could never be a full mirror, always limited by medium. Now, for the first time in history, you can capture anything at full-res. (E.g. film shot in Hermitage St.Petersburg 2hours, 2 Terabytes large.)
Q&A/ debate:
Q: scale has changed, but our perception of space/time hasn’t.
A: New media forms create new forms of perception. people want more information, that’s why they live in cities.

M. will put chapters of his new book online on his blog.

Q: It is Cartesian and Newtonian
A: ??
Article by … in 1920’s: One point in perspective, same vertical horizon. Later replaced by image of multiple viewpoints.

15 november – lecture at Overblaak 18:00

Q: scaling up & narrowcasting: new possibilities? Motivation? How ‘narrow’ can you go?

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