Why is it that in Whitney’s computer films and music videos effects are just effects, whereas in the hands of Vertov they acquire meaning? Because in Vertov’s film they are motivated by a particular argument, which is that the new techniques of obtaining images and manipulating them, summed up by Vertov in his term “kino-eye,” can be used to decode the world. As the film progresses, straight footage gives way to manipulated footage; newer techniques appear one after another, reaching a roller-coaster intensity by the film’s end — a true orgy of cinematography. lt is as though Vertov restages his discovery of the kino-eye for us, and along with him, we gradually realize the full range of possibilities offered by the camera. Vertov’s goal is to seduce us into his way of seeing and thinking, to make us share his excitement, as he discovers a new language for film. This gradual process of discovery is film’s main narrative, and it is told ‘through a catalog of discoveries. Thus in the hands ofVerrov, the database, this normally static and “objective” form, becomes dynamic and subjective. More importantly, Vertov is able to achieve something that new media designers and artists still have to learn-how to merge database and narrative into a new form.
—From “The Database” in: Lev Manovich (2001), The Language of New Media, Cambridge, MIT-Press, pp. 218-243