Variable Media: Lecture by Lev Manovich

In November 1994 Lev Manovich gave one of his first public lectures at V2_. 11 years later Manovich returns to V2_ to reflect on the past decade of computer culture and offer his ideas on variable media, the new cultural and media paradigm of the 21st century.

Variable Media: Lecture by Lev Manovich

Lev Manovich

Nov 2005
19:00 to 21:00
location: V2_, Eendrachtsstraat 10, Rotterdam

Manovich suggests that we can understand the variable and multiple cultural effects of computerization in terms of one overarching concept - scaling. The computer radically scales already existing cultural and social forms leading to new qualitative effects. For instance, the new media of 3D computer animation and virtual navigable spaces is a result of accelerating the calculation of perspectival images. Wikipedia which currently offers 800,00 articles in its English version and continues to grow exponentially in several languages, is a result of scaling up the number of contributors and the speed of editing (real-time). When a 100 megapixel image is displayed on the scale of a wall surface (i.e via the EVL LambdaVision Display 17,600 x 6,000 pixels), in practical terms a different image emerges where detail can be studied without losing context.

But this is only a beginning within the realm of shifting scales. What are the further effects of scaling which we can expect in the future? How can we use the concept of scale in media theoritical or cultural contexts?

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.

This lecture was webcasted live via

IRC-chat, moderated by Todd Matsumoto:, channel #v2_manovich

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