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New Media, Animated Graphics, and Cinema Discussion Questions

New Media, Animated Graphics, and Cinema

Discussion Questions

On Page 220 of The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich claims that new media “follows the dominant semiological order of the twentieth century – that of cinema…For centuries, a spatialized narrative where all elements appear simultaneously dominated European visual culture; then it was delegated to ‘minor’ cultural forms as comics or technical illustrations.”

He goes on to claim that the exception to this is when “information…simply functions as an interface to information” it does not follow the strict sequential  structure of new media.

I wondered if that was meant to serve as a conclusive assessment of the modern semiological order of cinema and, if so, what then are the possibilities in the cinematic medium to produce non-sequential narratives?

Peter Greenaway’s video installations and films “[work] to undermine a linear narrative,” and “[work] on a problem of how to reconcile database and narrative forms.”

Is experimenting with the spatiality of film actually undermining this linear narrative, or is it merely adding another layer to the “hierarchy of levels” and maintaining the linearity of the video medium itself?

If each video in the installation is in and of itself presenting images one screen at a time in a pre-ordered sequential fashion, then is this not reflective of the supposed linearity of cinema?

Additionally, is experimenting with the narrative structure a representative element of the ontological projection of the digital upon culture when it is seemingly a change in the syntagmatic elements of the system that does not alter the paradigmatic elements of the system?

In other words, what would constitute a true change in cinema paradigm according to this definition?

Or should this idea of screen by screen interface constituting a linear paradigm be expanded or clarified?

I thought particularly about data visualizations and compositing when attempting to come up with new paradigms with both new syntagmatic structure and old.

The following is a data visualization by edward tufte, which, along with some of his other data visualizations, constitute a new media object with a (possibly?sequential) narrative structure, as opposed to other data visualizations he and other artists have created which are information maps without a sequential narrative structure, but which still represent the interaction between database and narrative–such as the information mapping work of Jonathan Harris, the narratives of which represent an alternate narrative structure–information not simply over x-axis as time and single screen with all elements of narrative present.

Edward Tufte’s data visualization, “The Movable Feat: New York’s 25th Marathon”

"The Movable Feat: New York's 25th Marathon"

What work has been done on exploring the cognitive processing of these type of infographics, especially as it applies to the differences between cognitive processing of new and old media?

Jonathan Harris’ information map, “transportation”

What does this type of new media object unpack or explore?  Does it have a narrative?

Edward Tufte’s animated data graphics, “Wavefields”


Does ursonography, when devoid of the “special effects” described by Manovich represent a non-linear narrative structure?  Does the original concrete poetry represent a database?  Are there better ways to analyze narrative structure and database hierarchy than by looking at linearity and non-linearity and paradigmatic and syntagmatic structures?  Are the special effects or other media elements of this and other new media actually additional layers or levels or do they represent a new three-dimensional structural theory particular to new media?


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