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Aesthetics, "Formalism," and Media Studies

Publication data:

Lev Manovich, “Aesthetics, “Formalism,” and Media Studies,” in Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray, eds., Keywords in Media Studies (New York: NYU Press, 2017).


“The concept of “aesthetics” has a unique relation to media studies. I can’t think of another concept that is so central to the modern culture industries and yet also to the creation of media by individuals – such as the tens of millions of people worldwide today who use digital tools to make aesthetically refined photos for posting on Instagram, or the hundreds of millions that have the means to purchase beautiful designer clothes and home décor items. The Pinterest social network that reached 100 million users in 2015 is dominated by images of beautiful cloves, home décor, crafts, fashion, parties ideas, etc. The photos that we see around us every day have been refined in Photoshop to achieve visual perfection, and cinematography similarly uses digital tools to control precisely the aesthetics of every shot and frame.”

Article  2017