Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database

Lev Manovich

The (uncertain) non-linearity of the information, culturally assodate from the concept of ‘link’, is slowly but irreversibly changing Western culture, transforming our enjoyment reassuring ‘start to finish’ in a path that is defined as ‘in progress’ through connections of different potential types (conceptual, causal, random, etc.).. Then put into question the very nature of the cinematic medium, based on the linear time of use, is one of the natural consequences, as investigated by the exhibition Future Cinema , held at ZKM few years ago. At that already outlined this project, led by Lev Manovich, celebrated author of ‘Language of New Media’, and Andreas Kratky which is based on the composition of a film sequence through an automatic assembly of clips. The sequence is generated by an extended database through a specific software that analyzes the characteristics of movement, the contrast values, the level of activity and so drawing the resulting editing decisions made in real time. The result is generative, that is never the same twice, and does not, therefore, account for a specific narrative choice while also dividing the screen into more contemporary sequences is carried out by algorithms that provide a visual balance precalculated. Formal criteria followed for the future generation may be the subject of special study, researching the relationship between the relational database and the aesthetic result, but what remains outstanding (as in any generative process, including music) is the close reliance on the work preparation of materials and parameters, which in fact define the rules of development, ingabbiandone results in a precise theoretical framework. A more distinct and natural ductility of the results is still a goal to reach.