[iDC] Re: iDC Digest, Vol 18, Issue 3

Curt Cloninger curt at lab404.com
Sun Apr 9 18:29:55 EDT 2006

Hi Trebor,

>Manovich anthropomorphized the evolution of new media. He delineated a
>map of the development of new media and linked stages in that trajectory
>to the computerized simulation of physical objects. His core suggestion,
>carefully constructed, was the emergence of hybrid media emerging out of
>remix culture. Multimedia for Manovich is an inadequate concept that
>defines media as standing next to each other. Today, "the computer
>becomes a petri dish in which different media mate, hybridize, mix.
>Media come together and create offspring. Meta media¾ (roughly quoted
>from memory).

This sounds like the furtherance of a point Manovich makes in the 
Multimedia section of "The Language of New Media."  He says the 
radical thing about new media is not just that video exists in the 
machine next to audio and jpegs, but that all are encoded in the same 
binary format.  Which means they can all be mapped to each other 
synesthetically at a fundamental level.  Thus the "digital" remix is 
much more potentially transformative than the analog remix (merely 
hooking an analog audio signal up to an oscilloscope, or putting a 
magnet on top of a TV tube).

Granted.  But a shared binary language makes possible all sorts of 
other things.  It makes possible the automation of media -- software 
instructions not merely "remixing" media, but  generating it, 
abstracting it from raw data, visualizing it, translating analog land 
art into digital pop art into hypertext literature into multimedia 
graphic design.  Not merely "remixing," but "processing."  This 
"automation" elelment of new media seems more radical (in both the 
experimental and fundamental sense) than the "multimedia" element. 
{code + media} > {media + media}.

The last chapter of McLuhan's "Understanding Media" seems prescient ( 
http://cultofjim.com/scripture/understanding_media/#chapter33 ). 
After McLuhan has discussed all other forms of media, he concludes by 
describing automation as a kind of meta-media that synthesizes all 
other media.  And that was 1964.

The hybridization and confluence of media give rise to social uses 
that are always more than the apparent sum of their parts.  This is 
what makes the network so interesting, because it is a meta-media in 
which lots of old media characteristics can combine in ways not 
heretofore possible (many-to-many networking, multimedia, database, 
automation, live-ness, time-shifted-ness, device-independence, 
location-independence -- all simultaneously possible in a single 
medium).  cf: http://lab404.com/media/

The particularly exciting thing (and what it sounds like Manovich is 
leaving out) is that none of these combinations are obvious, 
inherently "natural," or deterministically predictable simply based 
on the heretofore observed characteristics of old media.  The wild 
card is that the network doesn't terminate at computer terminals; it 
terminates at individual humans sitting in front of computer 
terminals -- and individual humans are a wildcard lot.  If the future 
manifestations of new media were so formalistically predictable, 
everyone would be an angel investor with a big pile of loot.  Instead 
we teach and write books and present talks and post to news lists.


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