Digital Essay

Digital Essay

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The digital world of today can be understood as a product of late-Victorian construction of the machinery of information organization combined with Modernist visual forms.

The works of Lev Manovich and Dr. Simon Cook use a revisionist approach to examine the past century and a half of visual forms. In his “Late Victorian Reasoning and a Modern History of Vision,” Dr. Cook attempts to prove a link between the late-Victorian visual forms and the “new vision” (including Modernist art) that Manovich observed in the early half of the twentieth century. In his work, Lev Manovich traces the relationship from “new vision” to the computer and new media, claiming a direct connection between the two. Although it is virtually undeniable that late Victorian visual forms, new vision, and new media are related, Manovich’s argument that new vision caused new media is flawed. The greatest error lies in the basic assumption of ceteris paribus (all other things being equal); after his explanation of the synthesis of new vision, he ignores any changes in academia.

What is being neglected is psychology. In the nineteenth century, psychology was still a pseudo-science but many breakthroughs in the field did occur. Then in the twentieth century, the true science of psychology came to fruition. The first stage in the evolution of psychology had a profound effect on late-Victorian work, and the second stage strongly influenced the new media of the late twentieth century. Due to this fact, one should not observe the digital world of today as a product of late-Victorian construction of the machinery of information organization and Modernist visual forms, but rather all three as children of the study of psychology.

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