lev manovich

lev manovich.png


intro’d to Lev here (his work with Benjamin.. in particular on the new normal):

presentation at strelka – sept 1 2016 –

12 min – our plan.. something has shifted.. one response is to put all genies back in bottle.. better to invest in emergence..  and shape toward what it should be.. move away from language of the hybrid..

14 min – in short term.. hybrids make sense.. but .. in long term.. language of hybrids creates confusion/fear.. so away from hybrid.. to design of the new normal..

15 min – so with what language can we define all this.. what do words like politics/identity/human/architecture/organic/citizen/home/natural/progressive.. what do these words mean anymore.. rather.. do the words describe what’s actually happening.. and if not..

at what point does the gap between our language and what it needs to explain become so wide that we move on to new terms..

16 min – if that is now.. then our assignment is to design a more effective glossary of the present.. can we compose it fast enough..

20 min – the speculative is not supplemental to serious work of remaking the city.. it’s our responsibility in this moment of change/uncertainty.. only by mapping new normal and modeling what’s possible can we hope to realize what’s preferable..

21 min – content

1\ new normal.. what is most normal is what is most strange.. ie: energy..can we build fast enough to save us from cost of building..

2\ pattern recognition.. first describe/know what want to change.. but intuition deceptive.. we’re a pattern recognizing species.. but comes at price of false pos/neg

27 min –

3\ synthetic sensing…ie: ar.. biocentric tools.. et al.. shift boundaries of inside/outside

29 min –

4\ speculative mega structures.. can’t enact another till we model it.. ie: scenario planning.. digital cinema…  liam young..

30 min – interested in areas of form.. but also areas of protocols.. forms.. …we’re all looking for mechs that may produce unexpected cause/effect.. but

perhaps we’re measuring all the wrong things..

self-talk as data – diff input

perhaps our game theories and legal fictions.. special zones.. are poorly disposed to a zero marginal cost platform economics .. or maybe not.. if so.. then

treating symptoms only as exceptions to the rule.. instead of reasons to make new rules.. to see new patterns.. recognize new normal.. may only make things worse..

31 min – the alternative is for design to use its essential craftiness/cunning/critique.. to draw that new normal… keller easterling.. prof at yale will drive this part

5\ field trip to ca..

32 min

6\ platform design.. design outcomes.. mix .. strategies for communication.. to turn audience into users/collabers.. platform not reducible to politics.. we look then for new vision of what they can be.. a drama of revelation and secrecy.. stating plainly and telling stories.. how to say what remains true.. because it’s more true than true.. like hiding in plain sight..  amsterdam design studio

34 min – students.. comfortable w/counter intuitive.. work with conventional and unconventional..

35 min – outcomes.. descriptive/predictive/prescriptive models..

37 min – looking for students.. comfortable w ambiguity.. interested in designing a new kind of design practice

38min – new glossary.. hopefully one of most important outcomes.. interested in people who don’t fit into regular categories..

39 min – design in relation to constraints.. arguably.. design does best not in relation to blank page.. but in reaction to emergencies..that demand demand.. that conventional practices cannot stand.. and that we simply have to find new ways.. and in this .. the *most unusual path may prove to be also the most practical..

*a nother way book – 33 min a day for 2 convos.. unusual.. practical..

40 min – we may take an emergency.. to mean a state of exception.. or we may take it to mean a kind of emergence.. a new normal.. we place our bets with emergence.. and we have many emergencies.. take your pick.. 1\ shared eco emergency.. we dive into messy/planetary bio chemistry.. in which we swim..  2\ allegiance/alignment/org emergency.. power never only exists where it seems to exist.. it’s also a matter of presentation/story-telling…universality not tied to local of west only.. actually universal… 3\ networks of finance/value/exchange emergency.. what is worth what to whom/when.. how much value is there

emergence via indigenous us

41 min – so.. pick your emergency.. and design with what makes it emergent.. not because future is guaranteed.. but because it’s not.. fuller: utopia or oblivion.. touch and go to last moment..

42 min – to see things new.. for what they are.. will require *both.. our most powerful tech and our most intense/adventurous imagination.. the future is where we will live/grow.. but first need to catch up to the present..

eagle and condor

49 min – lev: article … avant garde as software.. the old media van garde.. came up with new ways to see world..

53 min – lev: data that can present millions of maps.. and how to use multi mapping to create new design practice

1:01 – lev: computers don’t give you answers.. they actually give you more questions..

1:03 – convo between the two..

1:04 – benjamin to lev.. interested in this term you called image centric representation

adding page when lev said this..

lev: we have lots of data..? we don’t have any data.. we have a lot.. but we have nothing.. how to not rely on data simply because there’s lots of it

again.. let’s focus on diff data.. self-talk as data – diff input

1:06 – b: machine vision… self portraits.. strangeness of seeing ourselves thru this other mech..   l: bizarre yes.. but also middle class conventional.. designed by conventional algos… but can’t recognize poetry/clouds.. so not dealing with neutral knowledge.. but knowledge that is constructive for particular purposes.. so in a way like.. hire a person that’s not like you.. bring back strange labels..

1:07 – b: that’s exactly what it is.. what’s interesting is not that it’s bad at seeing the way we see but that it’s good in seeing in a very different kind of way…. like google deep dream.. seeing world thru eyes of this other mech.. in ways which we never would have thought possible..

1:08 – q&a

1:09 – q: personal interest in new language.. a: b: we can say new things with a new language.. when so many new things appear.. the kind of poetry/sentences/ideas.. held back if don’t have vocab.. the opposite of reducing the glossary..   l: i want students to forget.. they are architects/designers.. ie: you know programming..? of course not i’m an architect.. i want people to forget.. to say that.. so basically.. de professionalize.. make professional amateurs.. professional explorers..

1:13 – b: value of sci fi.. describe future in ways we can’t.. putting things into future is a bit of an alibi..allows for a deference.. that exactly describes present in ways we may not have done so before..  we’re not only interested in sci fi as predictive model.. but perhaps more as a descriptive model.. and also as a projective model.. what should/shouldn’t be.. not predict them but to make arguments normative/ethical about these in this way..

1:16 – q: will new normal be related w wisdom  a: b: by increasing quantity of info.. doesn’t tell us anything true/significant about anything we want to find.. wisdom.. depends on how we define this.. i would define as deeper understanding of world.. of cause/effect.. that go beyond intuitive.. getting past intuitive ways.. inventive techs of cognitive extension that have allowed us to get around those intuitives.. the big data techniques… in best sense.. allow us to get around limitations of intuitive..  not only beyond.. but temporal.. individual and collective.. but.. in no way is that built into the tech.. it’s something that we need to develop .. in how we use tech and demands we make upon it..

l: going fro data to knowledge.. is a dangerous idea.. this idea.. a guidebook to make smart cities..  computer doesn’t need that..  we have no idea how it’s doing that .. we just have to trust it..


1:21 – q: how to combine design and geo politics   a: b: a lot of what book – stack – is addressing.. for both good/bad .. effects of planetary scale computation is a shift in how publics are produced.. that challenges jurisdictions of west fallian state.. late 17th cent.. not just saying .. ok now have computer so state is being virtualized away.. not a virtualization of borders.. but a multiplication of borders.. map on a map on a map.. all making claims.. rather than deep border line… so each space.. claimed by mult at same time… to see this as the new normal.. and as a design problem.. designe needs to understand ramifications at global level.. not only about relationship of one user/object.. this is just a tiny sliver of what design is about.. claims must be much/much larger.. because implications are much larger..

1:25 – q: practical part..?  a: b: several projects.. work they develop at beginning becomes basis they will further they develop in 2nd module.. and then 3rd.. et al.. discover to prototyping to design development.. a lot of methodologies will be scenario driven.. system is that they will all add up into a mosaic of work..

l: we will do something no one else has done.. rather than copy.. leap over..

for (blank)’s sake

1:29 – q: motto?  a: b: dispute plan to prevent future luxury constitution… a constitution that guarantees luxury.. and there’s something to keep us from that.. so we have to dispute that   l: do better.. the road is super complex.. don’t try to simplify it.. deal with complexity..

crowd so interesting.. ladies have bright colored blankets on them.. man asking question holding small dog..


find/follow Lev:

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Founder and Director of Cultural Analytics Lab (). media theory, data science, data visualization, data art, digital humanities.

his site:


Dr. Lev Manovich is one the leading theorists of digital culture worldwide, and a pioneer in application of data science for analysis of contemporary culture. Manovich is the author and editor of ten books including Cultural Analytics (forthcoming 2018), Instagram and Contemporary Image, Data Drift, Software Takes Command, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database and The Language of New Mediawhich was described as “the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan.” He was included in the list of “25 People Shaping the Future of Design” in 2013 and the list of “50 Most Interesting People Building the Future” in 2014. Manovich is a Professor of Computer Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a Director of the Cultural Analytics Lab. The lab created projects for MoMA (NYC), New York Public Library, Google and other organizations.

wikipedia small

Lev Manovich (born 1960) is an author of books on new media theory, professor of Computer Science at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, U.S. and visiting professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Manovich’s research and teaching focuses on digital humanities, social computing, new media art and theory, and software studies

His best known book is The Language of New Media, which has been widely reviewed, translated into ten languages and used in classes around the world. Manovich’s latest book Software Takes Command was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury and the earlier draft was released under a Creative Commons license.

His research lab Software Studies Initiative (2007-) pioneered computational analysis of massive collections of images and video (“cultural analytics”). His lab was commissioned to create visualizations of cultural datasets for Google, New York Public Library, MoMA.


Manovich was born in Moscow, USSR, where he studied painting, architecture, computer science, and semiotics. After spending several years practicing fine arts, he moved to New York in 1981. His interests shifted from still image and physical 3D space to virtual space, moving images, and the use of computers in media. While in New York he received an M.A. in Experimental Psychology (NYU, 1988) and additionally worked professionally in 3D computer animation from 1984 to 1992. He then went on to receive Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from University of Rochester 1993, under the supervision of Mieke Bal. His Ph.D. dissertation The Engineering of Vision from Constructivism to Computers traces the origins of computer media, relating it to the avant-garde of the 1920s.