Software Takes Command (International Texts in Critical Media Aesthetics)
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Software has replaced a diverse array of physical, mechanical, and electronic technologies used before 21st century to create, store, distribute and interact with cultural artifacts. It has become our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination - a universal language through which the world speaks, and a universal engine on which the world runs. What electricity and combustion engine were to the early 20th century, software is to the early 21st century. Offering the the first theoretical and historical account of software for media authoring and its effects on the practice and the very concept of 'media,' the author of The Language of New Media (2001) develops his own theory for this rapidly-growing, always-changing field.
What was the thinking and motivations of people who in the 1960 and 1970s created concepts and practical techniques that underlie contemporary media software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, Final Cut and After Effects? How do their interfaces and tools shape the visual aesthetics of contemporary media and design? What happens to the idea of a 'medium' after previously media-specific tools have been simulated and extended in software? Is it still meaningful to talk about different mediums at all? Lev Manovich answers these questions and supports his theoretical arguments by detailed analysis of key media applications such as Photoshop and After Effects, popular web services such as Google Earth, and the projects in motion graphics, interactive environments, graphic design and architecture. Software Takes Command is a must for all practicing designers and media artists and scholars concerned with contemporary media.
GPS-enabled media capture devices and the addition of geo-tagging, geo-search, and mapping services to media sharing sites such as Flickr (added in 2006) and media management applications such as iPhoto (added in 2009) gradually made media “location aware.” Another example of a general concept that, through the efforts by many people, was gradually made to work with different media types—and thus became a “media-independent technique”— is information visualization (often abbreviated as
command involves “low-level” automation (since a computer automatically executes a sequence of steps of the algorithm behind the command). However, what it is important from the user’s point of view is the level of automation being offered in the command’s interface. Many software techniques that simulate physical tools share a fundamental property with these tools: they require a user to control them “manually.” The user has to micro-manage the tool, so to speak, directing it step-by-step to
the old vs. new), let us now test them against the Photoshop commands. Before starting, however, it is important to note once again that the two proposed schemes are intended to serve only as provisional categories. They provide one possible set of directions—an equivalent of North, South, West and East for a map where we can locate multiple operations of media design software. Like any first sketch, no matter how imprecise, this map is useful because now we have something to modify as we go
commands and techniques of media viewers, authoring software, animation, compositing, and editing software, game engine software, wiki software, and all other software “species.” While digital representation makes it possible for computers to work with images, text, 3D forms, sounds and other media types in principle, it is the software that determines what we can do with them. So while we are indeed “being digital,” the actual forms of this “being” come from software. Accepting the centrality
2006). 17 18 Hybridization 185 hybrid between photography and interfaces for space navigation, Street Views allows users to navigate through a space on a street level by clicking on the arrows superimposed on the panoramic photographs.20 Starting in 1991, Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata created a series of projects called Field Studies.21 These projects place video recordings made in particular places within highly abstracted 3D virtual spaces representing these places. Fujihata