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Lev Manovichs Aesthetics of Virtual Worlds:
Realism as commodity

A review and critique by Dr Micha Therrien, PhD

“I grew up in the U.S.S.R. where the material resources were quite scarceand I often had to travel from one end of Moscow to another because every art supply store would only carry a few colours at a time. So I would buy black paint in one store, get on the metro totravel to another end of the city, buy white and blue paints at another store, get on the metro again, and so on.

Faced with the abundance of material and computation resources of the U.S., myreaction is to work against it. I don’t need faster networks, more storage, more multimedia, more processing power I want to figure out first what can be done with just a few pixels.”

Thisquote from Lev Manovichs’ Little Movies voices his speculations about digital minimalism or digital materialism, in Virtual Worlds Manovich talks about Digitization, that is reducing all data to basicnumbers, he states: Digital media reduces everything to numbers. This basic property of digital media has a profound effect on the nature of visual realism. In a digital representation, all dimensionsthat affect the reality effect - detail, tone, color, shape, movement - are quantified. As a consequence, the reality effect produced by the representation can itself be related to a set of numbers.Lev Manovich is an artist and a theorist of new media. He was born in Moscow, where he studied fine arts and computer science. He received an M.A. in experimental psychology from NYU and aPh.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from University of Rochester. He has lectured widely on digital arts, he is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego.

In his articleAesthetics of Virtual Worlds Manovichs minimalist approach compels him to posit that the computerization of culture leads to the spatialization of all information, narrative, and even time. His...