The Language of New Media Chapter Four

Chapter Four of Lev Manovich’s  The Language of New Media is titled The Illusions. The first section of this chapter summarizes what he believes visual illusionism is and how it affects new media. He touches on three dimensional imaging techniques, such as shading, to add the illusion of images that appear more real than before. He also mentions virtual reality in this introductory section. One part worth noting is the differing relationships in arguments concerning theories of illusion in art and media. These  arguments taken from the book verbatim are listed below:

1. Illusionistic images share some features with the represented physical reality (for instance, the number of an object’s angles).

2. Illusionistic images share some features with human vision (for instance, linear perspective).

3. Each period offers some new “features” that are perceived by audiences as an “improvement” over the previous period (for instance, the evolution of cinema from silent to sound to color).


Futher reading into chapter four reveals Manovich’s idea of the synthetic image and it subject. In this section of the chapter photorealism is centralized and examples of synthetic three-dimensional images are given. Star Wars: Episode One, Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park are three cinematic example that are used to show the effects of photorealism. He states that sometimes these images are too real. I agree to a certain extent but one cannot help but marvel at the progress that movies have made visually in the past 25 years. A more contemporary example of three dimensional rendering that came to mind is the Toy Story movies created by Disney-Pixar. These movies really amplified the jump into computer animation that is now common place in movies as well as children’s television shows. Here is a screen capture from the original movie:


Chapter Four of this book concludes with illusion, narrative, and interactivity. This section focuses on the interactivity in the three dimensional realm.  He states that “three dimensional space becomes surface; a photograph becomes a diagram; a character becomes an icon.” This statement really summarizes what this section is about in simplest terms. He also touches on how popular games have become modeled after simulators. One title in particular is the highly successful Tomb Raider game. One company that handles model simulation is ACM SIGSIM. A link to their website can be found below.


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