How to Read 1,000,000 Manga Pages: Visualizing Patterns in Games, Comics, Art, Cinema, Animation, TV, and Print Media
Lev Manovich, Professor, Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego; ; Director, Software Studies Initiative, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2);
Description: In his introduction, moderator Ian Condry advocates utilizing the expertise and innovation of all disciplines in order to best explore new directions in the humanities. He suggests that the challenge of discovery may ultimately be useful as theoretical exploration, which incorporates the transformative power of art as well.
What would it mean, Lev Manovich asks, to "be stupid?" That is, what would it mean to take risks and start creating artifacts, interpretations and analysis that reach beyond language? To begin analyzing patterns in massive cultural data sets, Manovich uses computer"based techniques, already commonly employed in the sciences, for quantitative analysis and interactive visualization. "An image is worth thousand words. An interface is worth a thousand images. Why not have both?" he asks.
Manovich sorts visual media analysis into one of two categories: 'direct visualization' and 'visualization without quantification."
In the first technique, images are manipulated to produce new images, which reveal patterns. The image grid made up of thousands of Time magazine covers reveals a gradual evolution in the design and content of the magazine: black & white imagery doesn't become color immediately; there is a gradual shift. Waves of color are apparent over time, as are patterns of cultural content.
Manovich demonstrates the 'visualization without quantification' technique by using the same data set (Time covers), but visualizing contrast & saturation. In contrast to 'direct visualization,' this technique "allows you to see the variability of cultural data. We get this wonderful cloud of history," he explains.
Manovich introduces cultural analytics as interpreted on the HIPerSpace Wall (Highly Interactive Parallelized Display Wall) at Calit2, a high"capacity tool generally used for earth science research. The demonstration explores a set of more than 150 Mark Rothko paintings. "Graphs developed from features of paintings _ texture, brightness, number of shapes, saturation _ can be used to explore trends in this painter's life and work."
Finally, Manovich looks at a dataset of a million pages of manga represented in a scatterplot matrix; a "manga universe." The position of each page is determined by level of contrast (on the x axis) and level of grayscale (on the y axis). Visualizations such as this provide a unique way of describing culture in all its complexity and variability. He concludes with his hope that visualization will continue to emerge as a source of new and powerful questions leading to more revealing interpretations of culture.
About the Speaker(s): Born in Moscow, Lev Manovich studied fine arts and architecture before moving to New York in 1981. He began working in computer animation in 1984 at Digital Effects, one of the first commercial companies devoted to producing 3D animation for television and film and has worked with computer media as an artist, computer animator, designer, and programmer since that time.
In 2007 Manovich founded the Software Studies Initiative in order to facilitate work in the emerging field of software studies. The lab, housed within the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (Calit2) and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), is focused on projects in cultural analytics (data mining and visualization of patterns in large cultural data sets) and game studies.
Manovich's best"known book is The Language of New Media, which has been widely reviewed and translated. His awards include Mellon Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship (2002"2003).
Manovich as an MA degree in Experimental Psychology from NYU, (1988), and PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester (1993). Professor, Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego Director, Software Studies Initiative, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) http://www.manovich.net/
Host(s): School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, HyperStudio
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