Peter Lunenfeld (born 1962, in New York City) is a critic and theorist of digital media. He is a professor and the Vice Chair of the Design|Media Arts department at UCLA, director of the Institute for Technology and Aesthetics (ITA), and founder of mediawork: The Southern California New Media Group.
Lunenfeld is a leading figure in digital aesthetic theory, set on establishing philosophical quandaries regarding digital technology and its role in art, design and culture. His most famous book, Snap to Grid incorporates traditional and continental theories of art to account for digital media. His work revolves around the discources of technology, aesthetics, and cultural theory, establishing the complexity of digital aesthetics while simultaneously categorizing it.
His books include USER:InfoTechnoDemo, Snap to Grid, and The Digital Dialectic, a collection of essays about digital technology by many well-known academics in the field, including the essay "The Medium is the Memory" by co-creator of the Voyager Company's Expanded Books Project Florian Brody. Lunenfeld is the editorial director of the highly designed Mediawork pamphlet series for the MIT Press. The series features commissioned writings that weave life stories into "theoretical and critical praxis." These award-winning "theoretical fetish objects" cover the intersections of art, design, technology, and market culture. Included in the series is Utopian Entrepreneur (2001) by Brenda Laurel, designed by Denise Gonzales Crisp; Writing Machines (2002) by N. Katherine Hayles, designed by Anne Burdick; Rhythm Science (2004) by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, designed by COMA; and, Shaping Things (2005) by Bruce Sterling, designed by Lorraine Wild. Lev Manovich, the author of The Language of New Media, lauded these 100 page "mind bombs" in the tradition of McLuhan and Fiore¹s The Medium is the Massage as a new operating system for the book.
Lunenfeld has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, an MA in Media Studies from SUNY Buffalo, and a Ph.D. from UCLA in Film & Television. He worked as the Applications Coordinator at the Academy Award winning hardware and software company Lyon Lamb. He has been awarded support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Hirsch Foundation, the Plitt Foundation, and the Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall in Paris. He has given lectures and led workshops at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, the MIT Media Lab, the Royal College of Art, the University of Stockholm, the Interaction Institute Ivrea in Italy, the Getty Research Center, UC Berkeley, UCSB, UCLA, UCSD, USC and CalArts. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
- Peter Lunenfeld: The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine, MIT Press, April 2011 ISBN 978-0-262-01547-9
- Peter Lunenfeld: USER:InfoTechnoDemo, MIT Press (2005), visuals Mieke Gerritzen ISBN 0-262-62198-3
- Peter Lunenfeld: Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media and Cultures, MIT Press (2000) ISBN 0-262-62158-4
- Peter Lunenfeld, ed.: The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media, MIT Press (1999) ISBN 0-262-62137-1