From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Usually, an interface is understood as a technological artefact optimized for seamless interaction and functionality. However, the interface also draws upon cultural and artistic traditions, and plays an important role in our culture as art, entertainment, communication, work and businesses

The interface is a “multimedia that integrates sound, images, text and interaction in feedback-loops,” where the registering (or generating) and representing (or visualizing) of data occurs simultaneously.

§1 The interface connects functionality with representation

Frieder Nake describes the computer as “an instrumental medium” (2000). We are simultaneously using it as a tool and communicating with it as a medium With a representational dimension, technology becomes cultural – and reversely, representation becomes technological.

§2 The interface is displaced and repressed

Interfaces come from a tradition of engineering that paradoxically has tried to rid itself of it. This repression is also part of a larger attempt to re-appropriate presence and immediacy by a differentiation of representation (see e.g., Jacques Derrida’s criticism of writing as a ‘dangerous supplement’ from 1967). Although, the interface designer seeks to bypass language and displace the semiotic processes of the interface, interaction will never be seamless and will always enforce a particular way of communicating with the computer (e.g., a particular way of (non-linear) reading), or as disconnections in the form of load or error messages, entering of passwords etc. With this, the user is reminded of an interaction that is not purely functional.

$3 The interface is an ideological construct

All kinds of both disconnections and forms of seduction in the relation between sign and signal mark a power relation. The interface reflects a balance of submission and control. This balance is often conditioned by ideology. On some occasions the user is seduced to interact without negotiating this relation – often through “gamification” and the use of play and narrative.On other occasions, as within free software culture, the participants demand a negotiation of the conditions of the interface. Christopher Kelty has referred to these as a “recursive public” that is ‘concerned with the material and practical maintenance and modification of the technical, legal, practical, and conceptual means of its own existence as a public’ (2008, 3).

§ 4 The interface has traditions and genres

Historically, the interface builds on three traditions. Firstly, early developments within computing took place within a military context. Secondly, military technology design in the sixties also developed a number of human-computer interaction techniques, including graphic manipulation, the mouse, and other controllers. These designs were further developed into ideas of general-purpose tools for ordinary people

§5 The interface is not (just) a surface

Thirdly, experimentation with computers in the fifties and sixties also led to new forms of expression (many of these relating to Max Bense’s Stuttgart School and to Bell Labs and exhibited at the seminal Cybernetic Serendipity at the ICA in London, 1968). It is not possible to ‘unveil’ the computer interface, which always will appear in a ‘mise en abîme’ architecture where one translation between sign and signal will replace another: the code behind the interface is just another interface to deeper level. One level is not more essential than the other, but the interface can be critically reflected at all levels – as code, as platform, as sense-perception, etc. – each including references to technological, sociological, historical and political issues.

§ 6 The mechanisms of the interface constitutes the sensible

The interface is a multimedia that integrates sound, images, text and interaction in feedback-loops. It “sonifies”, “textifies” and visualises as it simultaneously listens, reads and sees through microphones, cameras, keyboards, sensors, GPS or data analysis. The cybernetic feedback-loop is a central part of the interaction between human and computer, and the interface is generated in a simultaneous reading of the computer and the user’s system. However, this coinciding registering and representation takes place at all levels of the interface. The multimedia as a cybernetic mechanisms constitute the sensible (even beyond the human) – i.e. the way we sense, what we sense, and how we act upon this