Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art

Virginia Heffernan. Simon & Schuster, $26 (242p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9170-5
Former New York Times television critic Heffernan writes about the Internet as one “massive and collaborative work of realist art.” Marketed as a treatise on art, the book turns out to be more of a memoir infused with Heffernan’s personal philosophy and religion. She divides the book into broad categories such as “Design,” “Text,” “Images,” and “Video,” but her discussion of those categories is mostly fragmented into quick takes on pop culture. She raves about the design of Hundreds, a puzzle game for smartphones, and is enraptured by YouTube videos and an image of smog in Beijing. She links the demise of the BlackBerry to the modern-day “sidelining” of the written word. When she describes her work for Slate, she says, “You could write about almost anything under the pretext of writing about television,”and she extends that principle to the Internet in this book. Heffernan riffs on pop star Beyoncé, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Oculus Rift virtual reality, hashtags, and anything that marginally fits into the pretext of writing about “the Internet” or “art.” Heffernan is articulate and she occasionally makes a lucid point about reading or how art and commerce intersect online, but those never combine into a cohesive book; instead, this is a random mishmash of unfocused ideas that ultimately offers little insight. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 06/07/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4391-9171-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4423-9256-4
Paperback - 978-1-5011-4707-4
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-5011-3267-4
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