In "The Anti-Sublime Ideal in New Media" Manovich wastes no time in building the foundation of his argument. A key distinction is that between data visualization and mapping. While the former is a visualization of specifically quantified data transformed into a visual representation, the latter should be regarded conceptually as a super-domain where the prime distinction is that the the specific method of translation is dynamic. Echoing Drucker, he notes that this mapping as an act of will has an associated political dimension. That is, the practitioner has not only the power to decide what kind of mapping to use, but additionally, as there are usually more dimensions of information then those which humans can readily apprehend, they get to mediate what data we have access to and its associated interface. The word "political" here feels like a bit of a catch-all which I would love to hear Manovich elaborate on, since alone, it is both powerful yet ambiguous. Unfortunately, no clarification was forthcoming.
As in other readings he argues that software is unique in media. It is both dynamic and can be applied simultaneously as media and the meta-language of the media. This allows both form and information to be modified/remapped almost at a whim (an issue he returns to later) This is exemplified by "meta-media" projects ranging from film remapping to virtual opera. It is this quality of meta-medianess imbued by the mapping that, while keeping the information of the original work, allows us new ways of interacting with it. Implicitly, this assertion does not regard the original film's format as part of its "information", which is an unclarified choice on his part. But again, the new interface, remapping, and the core content create a new experience. Additionally, this experience is in no way static but relative to time, location, or the user's desire, can be dynamically created (therefore manifesting differently) each viewing. One possible result, he argues is the ability to mash-up interfaces as is the case with Adobe Acrobat which in turn draws from many disciplines and objects (books, image editing, VCRs, etc.) to frame its meta-language and data-accessibility choices.
This said, his argument starts. Artists who leverage software and engage in the creation of this meta-media are becoming tool creators. They have entered the domain of software developers and by providing software frameworks in a way that has been regarded historically as the exclusive domain of computer engineers. To the degree that such visualizations are an end, this "tak[ing] what normally falls outside the scale of human senses" and "mak[ing] it visible and manageable" aligns these artists with modern science. Science however is directed. The goal of visualization is greater intelligibility. With art however a lack of intelligibility (if you can call it that) manifests as a perception that the mapping choices were arbitrary and superficial when greater meaning or understandability was the implied goal. An effect, Manovich argues, is only heightened when the artist tries to hide the fact. He therefore suggests that, if any arbitrariness exists, that it be foregrounded. While DV in science has a particular definition of meaningfulness, art has the option to go beyond this in an attempt to represent a personal subjective experience. This is what he terms the "Anti-Sublime". The anti-sublime values the subjective by revealing ambiguity in our perception and drawing focus on "otherness" we normally don't notice or pay attention to. With this, a weakness has been transformed into a legitimate inquiry and aligns it with other historically powerful and transformative artistic movements.