[iDC] Lev Manovich on Remix Culture

Paul D. Miller anansi1 at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 12 16:18:53 EDT 2006

hey folks - as usual, this is waaaayyyy too Eurocentric.

Arghh! When will people look at other stuff... This gets to be a drag.

Again: Sons et Lumiere - no people of color.

Visual Music: No people of color


>Hi there Trevor,
>I was in the audience and another area of question came to mind,
>though I didn't have a chance to pose it.
>I thought the audience points were relevant, although I
>support the need to narrow the focus when examining
>formal issues.
>Lev Manovitch's talk focused on the visual hybrids of remix culture.
>However, historically there is a rich precedent for examining
>sound and image together, and I missed this in his over-view.
>In going back to the birth of cinema and modernism,
>it is important to  note the early dialogue about color and
>sound, or sound and image going back to the 1880's:
>Whistler, Baudelaire and at the art Critic  Stanley Pater,
>not to mention this influence on later artists like Kandinsky,
>Switters, etc., etc... all of early modernism.
>Lev's point  regarding the path cinema took
>as being mainly mimetic, and his questions regarding
>other time-based forms (digital painting for example)
>as seen in early  experimental film and animation,
>is important.
>I have been to 2 major exhibitions that encompass this
>history, one at the George Pomideau Center (fall 2004)called
>Son's and Lumiere
>and another at the Hirshorn this summer  called Visual Music
>I bring this up because I think a key area of interface and exploration exists
>between what we see and what we hear, and how the 2 are interfacing
>in ever more intertwined ways....
>including interactive object-based manipulation in programs like max 
>an jitter,etc.
>As an artist and educator, it is exciting to explore formal issues 
>trying to make
>links between the two.
>Beth Warshafsky
>      .
>On Apr 9, 2006, at 12:01 PM, Trebor Scholz wrote:
>>At the occasion of the exhibition "Media Miniature" at Pratt Manhattan
>>Gallery Lev Manovich introduced a new essay from his upcoming book
>>Quickly going back and forth between a projected myriad of open browser
>>windows he presented his notion of remix culture.
>>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 media" (roughly quoted
>>from memory). Manovich called himself a biologist of new media observing
>>and reflecting this process. In his visual presentation he quickly
>>switched back and forth between art examples and commercial business
>>applications such as corporate promotional MTV-type video clips,
>>maps.a9.com or mappr.com.
>>A9 maps shows a video of the location next to the map of the searched
>>spot. Examples demonstrated included the joining of video, drawing, and
>>3D objects. Hybrid aesthetics. Manovich indeed treated the computer
>>programs and hybrid media forms like lab test animals. "We are not yet
>>techno-deterministic enough..." he said.
>>In the question and answer session several problems were posed. Instead
>>of phrasing his media historical map as one aspect of the current media
>>landscape, he argued for these phenomena as the evolution of new media
>>in which one technological development informs the next. The
>>intentionally provocative formalism at play here leaves several facets
>>out of sight. But Manovich's argument undoubtedly sheds light on one
>>detail of the current media development.
>>Someone in the audience questioned the speaker's decisively formalist
>>approach dissecting the surface of the described media mix without
>>looking at the algorithmic workings of these processes. A perhaps
>>conscious blind spot of Manovich's suggestion, already evident in
>>"Language of New Media," was that "old" and emerging media are somewhat
>>described in a social vacuum. The idea of the isolated petri dish in
>>which one media copulates with the other pushes that notion to its
>>logical extreme. At the talk the question was posed if new media are not
>>conditioned by both, societal driving forces (e.g. the cold war leading
>>to the invention of the Internet) and the cross-pollination of one
>>technological development by previous technological findings. Manovich's
>>response to this question was "Can you prove that social factors were at
>>play?" Manovich's historical trajectory was also drawn in a straight
>>line as if one occurrence just leads directly to the next.
>>A second comment was concerned with another aspect, central to today's
>>media panorama. Sociable media. Manovich's talk did not address the way
>>in which the users of technologies shape their development through their
>>use. Our devices are shaped by us and they in turn shape us. The
>>participatory characteristics of the current culture of sociable web
>>media as well as physical computing were absent from Manovich's mental
>>media history map.
>>None of the mentioned concerns would have been all that pertinent if
>>Manovich's argument would have been phrased as a micro-history of new
>>media, a snapshot of one aspect, instead of a grand representation of
>>the history of new media at large.
>>People left Manovich's talk vividly debating, inspired, and provoked to
>>position themselves.
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