Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: April, 2013

TCRG April 30: Interface Perception

by lukevanryn

After our discussion of definitions last week, we turn to a piece by Soren Pold from the Interface Criticism collection (Aarhus UP, 2011).

Anderson and Bold 2011In an earlier publication, Berterlsen and Pold (2004) call for the discipline of HCI to shift expand its beyond efficiency and ergonomics to aesthetics. This collection provides many different answers to that call, from contributors including Matt Fuller (“The Computation of Space” with Dragana Antic), Florian Cramer (“What is Interface Aesthetics?”) , and Erkki Huhtamo (“Monumental Attractions”).

In “The Cybernetic Mentality and its Critics” Pold discusses’s work to show the value of artistic intervention for understanding “interface perception”. His key examples are Google Will Eat Itself and the Psych|OS cycle, which in their own ways draw attention to interfaces of search and diagnosis. For Pold, the production of artistic interfaces is best placed to criticize the interfacing of everyday life:

[…] cybernetic criticism must be cybernetic in its form in order to enter into the system, but also an outspoken meta-reflection of the machine in order to avoid merely confirming the order of the system and becoming a speechless part of it […]

In the coming weeks we will look for resources for interface theory outside artistic practice.

We meet in the Pierre Gorman Rm as usual, at 4:30pm.

[PDF] Pold, S. P. (2011). Interface Perception: The Cybernetic Mentality and Its Critics: In C. U. Andersen & S. B. Pold (Eds.), Interface Criticism: Aesthetics Beyond Buttons (pp. 91-113). Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

TCRG April 23: Interface

by lukevanryn

This week we begin our foray into interface theory with a short gloss from Florian Cramer and Matthew Fuller [link]. The authors note that ‘interface’ is often understood quite narrowly in media studies as ‘user interface’, and seek to expand the reach of the term:

[…] “interfaces” are the point of juncture between different bodies, hardware, software, users, and what they connect to or are part of. Interfaces describe, hide, and condition the asymmetry between the elements conjoined. (150)

This should provide a good introduction for the next few weeks, which may include:

…and whatever choice cuts you suggest!

We meet as usual at 4:30pm in the Pierre Gorman Rm.

April 16: Exhaustion / Depression (Bifo)

by lukevanryn

This week we’re reading a short essay by Franco “Bifo” Berardi called “Exhaustion / Depression”. It’s taken from “Depletion Design,” the most recent Theory on Demand publication. From editors Carole Wiedemann and Soenke Zehle:

The question of depletion is the question of the institution, of what it means when subjects and objects join in a refusal of roles in the great games of reification. No accident, perhaps, that phi- losophies of play are back, not quite a renaissance of aesthetic experience, but an affirmation of the openness of objective and subjective constitution.

Berardi draws on Félix Guattari to link contemporary economic crises to the exhaustion of workers under contemporary capitalism. The speed differential between information systems and human brains is the locus of most of his argument, though Berardi makes interesting connections to pharmacology and sustainability.

The full text appears to have disappeared from the iNC’s page, but you can download the whole book here, or Berardi’s chapter here.

Social theory on DDoS attacks

by lukevanryn

One of our number, Robbie Fordyce, has had an article published in the advance online issue of Platform: Journal of Media and Communication. Check it out!

robbie fordyce: research blog

An article that I’ve written has been released as an advance publication. See here.

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April 8: Bodies in Alliance (Butler)

by lukevanryn

Courtesy of Dale comes this piece by Judith Butler: “Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street”. Like Castells a few weeks ago, Butler tries to get at the relationship between protest in the streets and distributed networks that facilitate them:

What bodies are doing on the street when they are demonstrating, is linked fundamentally to what communication devices and technologies are doing when they “report” on what is happening in the street. These are different actions, but they both require bodily actions. The one exercise of freedom is linked to the other exercise, which means that both are ways of exercising rights, and that jointly they bring a space of appearance into being and secure its transposability.

As she has done elsewhere, Butler reads Arendt critically in order to conceive of the relation between the body, space and political action. She uses the idea of transposition throughout the piece as a means of relating the tactics of one situation or public to another.

The PDF is here, or you can read online over here.

We’ll meet as usual in the Pierre Gorman room at 4:30pm.