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Digital Mantras: The Languages of Abstract and Virtual Worlds Paperback – Bargain Price, August 4, 1995

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, August 4, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A fascinating commentary on the integration of computers into the creative process. Drawing examples from the history of the use of structure in fields as diverse as the development of ancient languages, the philosophy of a Buddhist monk, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the music of Arnold Schoenberg, and the grammar of Noam Chomsky, in conjunction with examples of the implementation of computers in recent creative work in language, music, art, and virtual reality, Holtzman presents a new philosophy of creativity in the digital age. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Holtzman, who holds a doctorate in computer science, provides a highly stimulating discussion of the integration of music, art, and language with recent trends in computer technology. He traces the evolution of formal abstract structures as they exist in the music of Schoenberg and Boulez, the art of Kandinsky, and the language grammars of Chomsky. Since computers have the capability to manipulate structures, the author contends that we have reached new frontiers of unexplored artistic creativity; he foresees new worlds of creative expression-that is, "virtual worlds." This text wisely addresses the issues of dissonance in electronic music and human emotion and understanding in the creative process. Holtzman's journey into "virtual reality," sprinkled with a touch of Indian mysticism, is a totally intelligible, enjoyable venture. Recommended.
Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 4, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262581434
  • ASIN: B00740MVYM
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,699,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
What do musicians, artists, linguists, Buddhist monks, and computers have in common? This book takles this broad scope with some very interesting revelations. The author has a Ph.D. in computer science and an undergraduate degree in eastern & western philosophy. Thus, the title and the Buddhist angle.
This books reads easily and is very entertaining. Coming from an engineering background, I appreciated the author's structured writing style. That is, he does not meander or get flowery with his words. He states his facts, makes his points, and moves on. The reader does not get overwelmed with too much detail or historical data, but an extensive bibliography is available for the curious. The plenitude of charts and illustrations is helpful and at times a necessity.
In the beginning of the book the author keeps each subject separate: one chapter dedicated to linguistics, another chapter to abstract art, etc. Slowly he begins to reveal how all these areas mesh, which left me anticipating a climatic revelation that would tie it all together. However, I found the conclusion to be somewhat anti-climatic involving the future of virtual reality and the author's own eastern religious beliefs.
If you are a musician, artist, linquists, or work with computers and you have ever wondered why you think the way you think, definitely read this book. It will open your eyes and broaden your horizons immensly. Caution: if you are looking for "how to" information, technical details, or references to the latest/greatest equipment, it's not what this book is about.
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By A Customer on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This beautifully written book offers interesting sections into the history of algorithmic thinking in the arts, and builds a concept of the computer use in art thereon, embedded in a context of indian mythology. It is the best book combining music and visual arts in this respect that I have read so far and its concepts will certainly and hopefully be quite influential on the producers of new media work. Musicians might find the chapter on serial music a little superficial, as visual artists might perceive the one on Kandinsky's work, and I am not so sure whether I agree with the author's personal "unified theory" presented in the last chapters of the book, but the strength lies in the combination, and if you are looking for a general introduction, it is a stimulating overview that serves as a great starting point for further studies. In comparison to Hofstaedters "Goedel, Escher, Bach" this one feels more relaxed and undogmatic and stays with topics of abstract language and generative grammars, instead of trying to hammer a cynical anti-spiritual pseudo-religion into your brain.
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