Lev Manovich

Lev Manovich 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.[2]

Lev Manovich
Lev Manovich — How to analyze culture using social networks.jpg
Professor Lev Manovich
at Strelka Institute in 2015
Born1960 [1]
Notable work
The Language of New Media

One of his works, The Language of New Media, was translated into thirteen languages.[3] Manovich's latest academic book Software Takes Command was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury, and the earlier draft version was released under a Creative Commons license.[4]

His research lab Cultural Analytics Lab (called Software Studies Initiative 2007-2016)[5] was described in an associated press release as the first attempt at computational analysis of massive collections of images and video (cultural analytics). His lab was commissioned to create visualizations of cultural datasets for Google,[6] New York Public Library,[7] New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).[8]


Manovich was born in Moscow, USSR, where he studied painting, architecture, computer science, and semiotics.[9] 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 a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from the 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.[10]

Manovich has been working with computer media as an artist, computer animator, designer, and programmer since 1984. His art projects include Little Movies,[11] the first digital film project designed for the Web (1994-1997), Freud-Lissitzky Navigator,[12] a conceptual software for navigating twentieth century history (1999), and Anna and Andy,[13] a streaming novel (2000). He is also well known for his insightful articles, including "New Media from Borges to HTML" (2001)[14] and "Database as Symbolic Form" (1998).[15] In the latter article, he explains reasons behind the popularity of databases, while juxtaposing it to concepts such as algorithms and narrative. His works have been included in many key international exhibitions of new media art. In 2002 ICA in London he presented his mini-retrospective under the title Lev Manovich: Adventures of Digital Cinema.

Manovich has been teaching new media art since 1992. He has also been a visiting professor at California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, University of Amsterdam, Stockholm University, and University of Art and Design Helsinki. In 1993, students of his digital movie making classes at the UCLA Lab for New Media founded the Post-Cinematic Society which organized some of the first digital movie festivals based on his ideas about new media such as database cinema.[16]

In 2007 Manovich founded the research lab Software Studies Initiative, working under the name of Cultural Analytics Lab since 2016.[17]

On November 8, 2012, it was announced that Manovich would be joining the faculty of the City University of New York's Graduate Center in January 2013, with the goal of enhancing the graduate schools' digital initiatives.[18]

Selected books and projectsEdit

The Language of New MediaEdit

His book, The Language of New Media (2001), covers many aspects of cultural software: for example, he identifies a number of key tools or processes (he calls them 'operations') that underpin commercial software from word processing to video editing programs. These include the conventions of 'cut and paste' copy, find, delete, transform, etc. The extracts we have chosen highlight significant 'new' aspects of the new media Manovich is concerned with. He is often concerned with visual culture and especially with moving image, so the first sections, 'The Database' and 'Database and Algorithm', explore something of the distinct ways in which computers store and manipulate information (here, for example, moving image footage). He compares this with traditional techniques of manipulating and editing film stock. The 'Navigable Space' extract is also concerned with the moving image, but this is the moving image as a mapping or modeling of virtual space. From architectural 'fly-throughs' to the visceral and violent pleasures of exploring the corridors of the videogame Doom, virtual space is discussed as a significant new cultural form that draws on pre-digital visual and cinematic culture.[3]

In "New Media from Borges to HTML" (2001), Manovich describes the eight definitions of "new media":[14]

  1. New Media versus Cyberculture
  2. New Media as Computer Technology Used as a Distribution Platform
  3. New Media as Digital Data Controlled by Software
  4. New Media as the Mix Between Existing Cultural Conventions and the Conventions of Software
  5. New Media as the Aesthetics that Accompanies the Early Stage of Every New Modern Media and Communication Technology
  6. New Media as Faster Execution of Algorithms Previously Executed Manually or through Other Technologies
  7. New Media as the Encoding of Modernist Avant-Garde; New Media as Metamedia
  8. New Media as Parallel Articulation of Similar Ideas in Post-WWII Art and Modern Computing

Soft CinemaEdit

His digital art project Soft Cinema[19] was commissioned by ZKM for the exhibition Future Cinema (2002–03); traveling to Helsinki, Finland, and Tokyo, Japan, in April 2003. "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. Each Soft Cinema run offers a unique viewing experience for the audience; the software works with a set of parameters that allow for almost every part of a film to change."[20]

Soft Cinema projects mine the creative possibilities at the intersection of software culture, cinema, and architecture. Its manifestations include films, dynamic visualization, computer-driven installations, architectural designs, print catalogs, and DVDS.[21]

Software Takes CommandEdit

Another book, Software Takes Command[4] was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury Academic.[22] It is part of the series International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics,[23] founded by series editor Francisco J. Ricardo.

Instagram and Contemporary ImageEdit

Manovich's latest book is Instagram and Contemporary Image (2017)[24] released under a Creative Commons license. In 2018, it was translated into Japanese and published in a special edition with contributions of nine Japanese authors.[25]


  • Tekstura: Russian Essays on Visual Culture, editor, together with Alla Efimova (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).[26]
  • Info Aesthetics, a semi-open source book/Web site in progress. Project started August 2000, last update October 2001.[27]
  • Metamediji (in Serbian) (Belgrade: Center for Contemporary Arts: 2001).[28]
  • Soft Cinema, with contributions by Andreas Angelidakis, Jason Danziger, Andreas Kratky, and Ruth M. Lorenz (Karlsruhe: ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, 2002).
  • The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001).[3]
  • Black Box - White Cube (in German) (Berlin: Merve Verlag, 2005).[29]
  • Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database, together with Andreas Kratky (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2005).[20]
  • Software Culture (in Italian) (Milano: Edizioni Olivares, 2010).[30]
  • Software Takes Command (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013).[4]
  • The Illusions (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2014).[31]
  • Data Drift: Archiving Media and Data Art in the 21st Century, editor, together with Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits (Riga: RIXC, LiepU MPLab, 2015).[32]
  • Instagram and Contemporary Image (New York, 2017).[24]
  • Theories of Software Cultures (in Russian) (Nizhny Novgorod: Krasnaya Lastochka, 2017).[33]
  • Instagram and Contemporary Image (in Japanese), with contributions by Kiritorimederu, Akihiro Kubota, Yoshiaki Kai, Kouichiro Shibao, Junya Tsutsui, Kosuke Nagata, Barbora, Osamu Maekawa, Nobuhiro Masuda (Tokyo: BNN, 2018).[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Lev Manovich". Monoskop. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  2. ^ Lev Manovich Archived 2010-06-25 at the Wayback Machine faculty profile at European Graduate School, Saas-Fee.
  3. ^ a b c The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001).
  4. ^ a b c Manovich, Lev (2013). Software Takes Command. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781623567453.
  5. ^ The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (November 28, 2017). "New Study from Graduate Center, CUNY, Cultural Analytics Lab Is First to Analyze Global Growth of Image Sharing Around the World". PR Newswire. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Phototrails. "Google Zeitgeist 2014 conference". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Gopnik, Blake (December 22, 2015). "At the NYPL, 'On Broadway' Portrays the World's Greatest Street". Artnet News. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Hochman, Nadav; Manovich, Lev (2014). "A View from Above: Exploratory Visualizations of the Thomas Walther Collection" (PDF). Object:Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection 1909–1949. An Online Project of The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "Biography. Lev Manovich". Medien Kunst Netz / Media Art Net. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Manovich, Lev (1993). The Engineering of Vision from Constructivism to Virtual Reality. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Rochester. Department of Art and Art History.
  11. ^ Manovich, Lev. "Little Movies". Rhizome. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Klein, Norman M.; Manovich, Lev (2002). "The Freud-Lissitzky Navigator". Leonardo. 35 (1): 8 – via Project MUSE.
  13. ^ Manovich, Lev (2000). "Anna and Andy". Archive of Digital Art. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Manovich, Lev (2003). "New Media from Borges to HTML". In Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (ed.). The New Media Reader. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.
  15. ^ Manovich, Lev (1999). "Database as Symbolic Form". Convergence. 5 (2): 80–99. doi:10.1177/135485659900500206.
  16. ^ "Mac OS X Server". Archived from the original on 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
  17. ^ "Cultural Analytics Lab". Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  18. ^ "Renowned Digital Humanities Expert Lev Manovich Joining Graduate Center (CUNY) Faculty". BusinessWire. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  19. ^ Manovich, Lev. "Soft Cinema". Medien Kunst Netz / Media Art Net. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Manovich, Lev; Kratky, Andreas (2005). Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (DVD-video with 40 page color booklet). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262134569.
  21. ^ Wang, Zhe (2009). "The Promise of Database Cinema: A Review of Lev Manovich and Andreas Kratky's 'Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database'". Journal of Media Practice. 10 (2–3): 289–294. doi:10.1386/jmpr.10.2-3.289_4.
  22. ^ "Software Takes Command". Bloomsbury Academic. July 4, 2013.
  23. ^ "International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics". Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Manovich, Lev (2017). Instagram and Contemporary Image. Released under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Creative Commons license. New York.
  25. ^ a b Manovich, Lev (2018). Instagram and Contemporary Image (in Japanese). with contributions by Kiritorimederu, Akihiro Kubota, Yoshiaki Kai, Kouichiro Shibao, Junya Tsutsui, Kosuke Nagata, Barbora, Osamu Maekawa, and Nobuhiro Masuda. Tokyo: BNN. ISBN 978-4-8025-1101-8.
  26. ^ Efimova, Alla; Manovich, Lev, eds. (1993). Tekstura: Russian Essays on Visual Culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226951249.
  27. ^ Manovich, Lev. "Info-Aesthetics" (semi-open source book/Web site in progress). Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  28. ^ Manovich, Lev (2001). Metamediji (selection of previously published articles). Translated into Serbian by Đorđe Tomić, Dejan Sretenović, and Vladimir Tupanjac. Beograd: Centar za savremenu umetnost.
  29. ^ Manovich, Lev (2005). Black Box - White Cube. Translated into German by Ronald Voullié. Berlin: Merve Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88396-197-2.
  30. ^ Manovich, Lev (2010). Software Culture (in Italian). Translated into Italian by Matteo Tarantino. Milano: Edizioni Olivares.
  31. ^ Manovich, Lev (2014). The Illusions (Digital Original Edition. A BIT of The Language of New Media. Ebook). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  32. ^ Manovich, Lev; Smite, Rasa; Smits, Raitis, eds. (2015). Data Drift: Archiving Media and Data Art in the 21st Century. Riga: RIXC, LiepU MPLab.
  33. ^ Манович, Лeв (2017). Теории софт-культуры. Нижний Новгород: Красная ласточка. ISBN 978-5-9908655-2-5.

External linksEdit