Lev Manovich is one the leading theorists of digital culture worldwide, and a pioneer in application of data science for analysis of contemporary culture. Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York City, has described him as "the only media theorist around, who is talking not just about what computers do but how they do it".
According to Manovich, “culture has become data”; thus, the proper study of culture demands the use of software. In 2007, Manovich founded the Cultural Analytics Lab (Software Studies Initiative 2007-2016) at the University of California in San Diego. The lab pioneered computational and visualisation techniques to analyse massive cultural visual datasets in the humanities, and the techniques developed in his lab spread across several fields of study. The lab's collaborators included Google, MoMA, Getty Research Institute, Austrian Film Museum, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Image, and other institutions. Since 2013, the Cultural Analytics Lab also operates at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, which Manovich joined to lead digital humanities research.
As a trained artist, designer and computer programmer, he experiments with art projects as he enriches his theoretical works with his insights as a practitioner. Since 2012, Manovich has directed a number of projects that present analysis of millions of Instagram images, Twitter posts and other data shared worldwide, such as Selfiecity (2014) and Visual Earth (2017). His digital art projects were shown in over 100 group and personal exhibitions worldwide.
Manovich's influential book The Language of New Media (2001) offers the first systematic and rigorous theory of new media and is used as a reference textbook in many study and research programmes around the world. His recent book AI Aesthetics (2018) gives a systematic framework to help us think about cultural uses of AI today and in the future.