The Language of New Media

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2001: Lev Manovich: The Language of New Media (MIT Press)

Comment submitted by bob

BC: Manovich attempts the first serious analysis of new media - what it is, where it came from, how we can appraise it. While not perfect (too much emphasis on film as precedent), this was nevertheless the best book on new media aesthetics since Gene Youngblood's seminal 'Expanded Cinema' (1970) - and a benchmark for the much needed serious analysis of this new and still emerging phenomenon - converged interactive multimedia. Manovich traces roots in modernism (but not as broadly as he could have: nothing on Lissitzsky's electronic library, and he misses the significance of H.G. Welles 'World Brain' idea and Paul Otlet's information-science work.) But despite these caveats, it's a highly stimulating book. For additional comment, I recommend reading Geoffrey Batchen's essay Electricity Made Visible in New Media Art (ed Lucy Kimball, Arts Council/Cornerhouse 2004) - Batchen traces the roots of new media to the remarkable inventions of the 1830's - the Babbage mechanical computer and Fox-Talbot's calotype photographic process. It turns out that Babbage and Talbot were close mates! Batchen traces the fascinating interwoven genesis of photography and computing...