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Navigating the Database
Lev Manovich and Andreas Kratky
What kind of cinema is appropriate for the age of Palm Pilot and Google?
Automatic surveillance and self-guided missiles? Consumer profiling and
CNN? To investigate this question, Lev Manovich, one of today's most
influential thinkers in the fields of media arts and digital culture,
joined with award-winning new media artist and designer Andreas Kratky.
They also invited contributions from leaders in other cultural fields: DJ
Spooky, Scanner, George Lewis, and Jˇhann Jˇhannsson (music), servo
(architecture), Schoenerwissen/OfCD (information visualization), and Ross
Cooper Studios (media design).
The results of their three-year explorations are the three "films"
presented on this DVD. Although the films resemble the familiar genres of
cinema, the process by which they were created demonstrates the
possibilities of soft(ware) cinema. A "cinema," that is, in which human
subjectivity and the variable choices made by custom software combine to
create films that can run infinitely without ever exactly repeating the
same image sequences, screen layouts and narratives.
Mission to Earth, a science fiction allegory of the immigrant experience,
adopts the variable choices and multi-frame layout of the Soft Cinema
system to represent "variable identity." Absences is a lyrical black and
white narrative that relies on algorithms normally deployed in military and
civilian surveillance applications to determine the editing of video and
audio. Texas, a "database narrative," assembles its visuals, sounds,
narratives, and even the identities of its characters, from multiple
databases. The DVD was designed so that every viewing of each film
generates a different version.
Lev Manovich is Professor of Visual Arts, University of California, San
Diego. His book The Language of New Media (MIT Press, 2001) has been hailed
as "the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall
DVD-video with 40-page color booklet, ISBN 0-262-13456-X
55 Hayward Street
Cambridge, MA 02142-1315
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