What is Visualization?


  • Lev Manovich University of California, San Diego


visualization, information visualization


From its beginnings in the 18th century until the end of the 20th century, information visualisation used points, lines, curves and simple geometric shapes to stand in for objects and relations between them. This article discusses a new visualization method that can be called “direct visualisation” (or “media visualisation”): creating new visual representations from the visual media objects (images, video) or their parts. This method is particularly relevant for humanities, media studies and cultural institutions. Using the actual visual artefacts in visualisation as opposed to representing them by graphical primitives helps the researcher to understand meaning and/or cause behind the patterns she may observe, as well as discover additional patterns.

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Author Biography

Lev Manovich, University of California, San Diego

Lev Manovich is the author of Software Takes Command (released under CC license, 2008), Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (The MIT Press, 2005), and The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001) which is described as “the most suggestive and broad ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan.” Manovich is a Professor in Visual Arts Department, University of California -San Diego, a Director of the Software Studies Initiative at California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2), and a Professor at European Graduate School (EGS). He is much in demand to lecture around the world, having delivered 450 lectures, seminars and workshops during the last 10 years.