In the Anti-Sublime Ideal in New Media, 2002, Lev Manovich describes what data mapping new media art and what some of it’s characteristics are, looks at some artists, and gives an overview of what he think may be missing and is yet to be done.
Manovich connects the concept of mapping with using a computer to transform quantified data (data which by itself is not visual) into a visual format - suggesting that visualization is “a particular subset of mapping in which a data set is mapped into an image.” By using software to “re-map old media objects into new structures,” we turn media into “meta-media.” The examples show new ways to “navigate, experience its structure, compress and expand our views of the object, and interactively control it,” but still contain the "granularity and the syntactical structure of the old media object." Thus he argues that the meta-media object has both the original media structure (language) and software tools for the user to generate descriptions of the structure and to change it (meta-language.)
He stresses the computer’s ability to simulate other media, noting that this simulation role is as revolutionary as it’s other roles. Software tools usually simulate and also allow new types of operations to transform media into meta-media. I like the connections that are made with 3 types of remixing - postmodernism, globalization, and culture and computers – and the notion that meta-media can therefore contain mixes put together in somewhat “erratic and unpredictable ways.”
He points out that we live in 4D space: data can include more dimension, thus quantified data representation involves political decisions about what to leave out. “Who has the power to decide what kind of mapping to use?”, what dimensions, what interface etc: new questions about data mapping relate to earlier cultural criticism around representation and omission, and run in parallel with the politics of media representation.
I am curious if section 3 examples might be widened out a little now to include other artists. (mis-spelling of Sol LeWitt’s name here.) The artworks he describes draw from art history, offer open source, interactive environments, giving “a new kind of image of the web and they are a new kind of image.” He creates a parallel between early c20th artists mapping urban chaos into simple geometries with c21st data visualization artists - though I am not so sure that new media work always shows clear patterns, I think that some reflects chaos/ incomprehensibility rather than reduction, but Manovich moves on to say that data visualization the same dataset often drives endless variations of images, “..reduced to its patterns and structures that are then exploded into many rich and concrete visual images.”
I like the point that new media can be seen as a representation of human activities rather than appearance. And I found his exploration of the (anti)sublime and of decision-making and motivation fascinating, and he discusses an architectural project (though why not an art project?) Here I noted that an artist can make choices from a personal or political standpoint - and also couldn’t it be said that one of the points of art is persuading the ‘rightness’ of your articulation? As in Duchamp’s 1912, Nude Descending a Staircase No.2. But Manovich makes the interesting idea of taking the arbitrary further and foregrounding it in work.
He ends with a call to make better data mapping new media projects. “Rather than trying hard to pursue the anti-sublime ideal, data visualisation artists should keep in mind that art has the unique license to portray human subjectivity – including its fundamental new dimension of being “immersed in data.”

Are there newer/other projects out there that represent the personal subjective experience of a person living in a data society?

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