BOOK DATA Jacob Gaboury, Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021. $35.00 hardcover; 312 pages, 133 b&w photos, 20 color plates.

Computer graphics, to paraphrase an insight from Jacob Gaboury’s Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics, are commonly understood to be at their best when they are least apparent. If audiences notice an effect work, it is likely to its detriment—just witness animadversions against films like The Mummy Returns. Histories of computer graphics have for this reason tended to focus on the inexorable march toward improved realism. Gaboury takes a different tack, eschewing almost entirely the direct concerns of film and television for a perspective at once more focused and more expansive, a prehistory that redefines both graphics and computers.

Image Objects comes amid a period of industry self-reflection on the history of digital animation, as its prominent innovators—Ed Catmull and...

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