Strange Ecologies #4: The Metainterface
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Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold

Jill Craigie Cinema, University of Plymouth 17:30 15.03.19

The computer interface is both omnipresent and invisible, at once integrated into everyday objects and characterised by hidden exchanges of information between objects. With the current spread of mobile devices, embedded sensors, cloud services, and data capture, a new interface paradigm, the metainterface, arises where data and software disappear from our devices and into the global cloud. The metainterface indicates, that the interface has become more abstract, generalized, but also spatialized in the sense of being ubiquitous, mobile, urban and related to the things of our environment. The metainterface is a paradigm, an industry (e.g. Amazon, Google, Apple, Spotify, Netflix, Facebook, etc.) and an art/design practice, which calls for new understandings of art, culture and IT.

In our book The Metainterface (MIT Press, 2018), we have developed such understandings in relation to art, literature and culture, and we will present some of this in this talk with a focus on realism and design. We will argue, that a realism of the metainterface is needed to understand what we see (e.g. the data, tools, operations, transactions) combined with how we see it (the metainterface and its software, networks and executions), including how it sees us (how the user/users are captured, datafied, profiled, computed or ‘executed’). In other ways, we need a ‘way of seeing’ that goes beyond the visual and integrates the metainterface and its effects. This realism will be discussed with examples from software art and critical interface design.

Christian Ulrik Andersen is Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Department of Digital Design and Information Studies. Inspired by network and software culture his research addresses the intersection between software and cultural performativity. In particular, he addresses the notion of »interface criticism« as performed in a variety of design and arts practices. The outcome is found in various articles and books, including The Metainterface – The Art of Platforms, Cities and Clouds, MIT Press 2018 (co-authored with Søren Pold) as well as a number of projects that address issues of tactical and free research; including the online journal APRJA, together with Geoff Cox, and a Peer-Reviewed Newspaper in collaboration with transmediale festival for art and digital culture, Berlin.

Søren Bro Pold is Associate Professor, Information Science, Aarhus University. He has published on digital and media aesthetics – from the 19th century panorama to the interface in its different forms, e.g. on electronic literature, net art, software art, creative software, urban, mobile and cloud interfaces, activism, surveillance culture and digital culture. His main research field is interface criticism which discusses the role and the development of the interface for art, literature, aesthetics, culture and IT. Together with Christian Ulrik Andersen he edited the anthology Interface Criticism (2011) and published The Metainterface – The Art of Platforms, Cities and Clouds (MIT Press, 2018). In relation to electronic literature, he has collaborated with libraries in several projects, e.g. on developing the installation The Poetry Machine, which has been shown at many libraries across Denmark and internationally.

ADA Public Programme 2018–19: Strange Ecologies

Series of talks from the School of Art, Design and Architecture (ADA)

All talks are FREE and open to all. The talks are organised in collaboration with The Arts Institute, The Atlantic Project and The Box.

The School of Art, Design and Architecture (ADA) at the University of Plymouth presents the Strange Ecologies talks series (2018-19), in partnership with The Arts Institute, The Atlantic Project and The Box.

“We need new social and aesthetic practices, new practices of the Self in relation to the other, to the foreign, the strange – a whole programme that seems far removed from current concerns. And yet, ultimately, we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of: - A nascent subjectivity - A constantly mutating socius - An environment in the process of being reinvented.”

We take this quote from Félix Guattari’s Three Ecologies (first published in 1989) as a starting point to explore the interconnected networks of mind, society and the environment now, and in turn to reflect the research strengths of the University in marine studies, cultural heritage and health.

The ADA Public Programme thus explores how transversal eco-aesthetic practices can respond to the damaging effects of integrated world capitalism (e.g. the increase of mental health and stress-related disorders; the rise of right-wing nationalism and fundamentalisms; ecological crisis on a global scale, climate change and natural resource depletion). Invited speakers respond to ecologies in their widest sense: to counter the pervasive atmosphere of inaction, and propose new social and aesthetic imaginaries.