Cultural Interfaces and Data Aesthetics
by Lev Manovich (US/RU)
society in which gathering, processing and distribution of information
play central role needs its own art forms. These forms should take
into account information behaviors and information interfaces employed
by people in their everyday life, such as a search engine, a Web
browser, email, GUI, databases, data visualization, etc.
can we create these new forms? We can take the clue from early twentieth
century modernists who understood that the new aesthetics of industrial
society has already existed in the industrial realm. They admired
the forms of motorcars, bridges, grain elevators, aircraft's propellers;
and they begun the project to carry over the logic of these forms
into the realm of design, architecture and art. "Ornament is
Dead", "The House is a Machine for Living", "Form
Follows Function" are some of the slogans they designed to
describe this new industrial aesthetics.
I postulate: A Web crawler is beautiful. Quantitative data is beautiful.
Multiple windows of GUI are beautiful. Email clients are beautiful.
Instant Messenger is beautiful. Information is beautiful. Let the
thousand data windows open; let the thousand gassian curves spring
up; let the thousand pockets move through the network; let the thousand
matrixes multiply themselves.
new aesthetics already exists in information interfaces and information
tools, which we use in everyday life. The challenge before us is
to figure out how to employ these tools to create new art; in short,
how to interface them not just to data but to representations of
human experience, subjectivity and memory.