Chapter four of Lev Manovich’s The language of New Media is devoted to Illusions. He discusses the innovations of Illusions and how they have dramatically changed since the fifth century B.C.
Zeuxis, who was a famous Greek painter in the fifth century B.C. created a painting of grapes. His creation was so skilled and detailed that the birds could not tell they were not real. They would fly down to eat from the painted portrait only to find that it was not edible. This was the beginning of illusionism art (177).
From this moment, the art of painting and creating such still images has dwindled. The twentieth century A.D. has since optimized to create “real-time, interactive, photorealistc 3-D graphics,” using high- performance graphics computers. Manovich uses RealityEngine as an example. RealityEngine is a “high performance graphics computer that was manufactured by Silicon Graphic Inc.” during the twentieth Century. Since this innovation, the replacement new media industries continue to expand (177). The industries have become obsessed with illusionism and continue to be fixated with having the finest program on the market.
Manovich notes, “the visual culture of of a computer age is cinematographic in its appearance, digital on the level of its material, and computational (i.e.,software driven )in its logic (180).”
With this being said, it is obvious that new media has shaped our illusions and communication within our culture. The theories and histories of illusion in the media such as the, Art of Illusion, The Myth of Total Cinema and The True Vine only deal with visual dimensions. However, Manovich believes that these theories have three arguments dealing with three different relationships in common. Each argument concerns,” image and physical reality, image and natural perception, present and past images.
Illusionistic images share some feature with the represented physical reality (for instance, the number of an object’s angles.
Illusionistic images share some feature with human vision (for instance, Linear perspective).
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).
New media has changed and will continue to change the way we view images of all kinds. It is no longer a subject that one simply gazes at. It is considered to be an interactive image that functions with as an “interface” between a user and a computer or device (183).
Two of the latest examples of new media mention in chapter four are that of Jurassic park and Terminator 2. Manovich explains how Jurassic Park was anticipated to create, “systematically degrading” images to represent the dinosaurs from the past. They show grain images of blur, and low resolution unlike Terminator 2. Terminator 2 represents futuristic images of ultra sharp reflections with no blur and techniques to achieve photo-realism(204).