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The Imperial Interface Industry and its UTOPIA

6. Dezember, 2017, 18.00 Uhr Audimax, 1. OG, Domgasse 1, Linz

Gastvortrag von Christian Ulrik Andersen im Rahmen des Sankt Interface Day 2017

The computer interface today is both omnipresent and invisible, at once embedded ineveryday objects and characterized by hidden exchanges of information betweenobjects. Cloud services, smart phones, data capture, streaming services and more arerepresentatives of a new global technological paradigm (‘the metainterface’) thatprofoundly disrupts everyday practices (from the workplace to social interactions andcultural consumption). Despite attempts to make the interface disappear into smoothaccess and smart interaction, its grammar gradually resurfaces. As users we realize thatbehind the design’s benevolent smoothness and exchange of information that all seem tobe for the common good there is a politics of the interface. How can the user beempowered in other ways than through the translucent contiguity and proximity of data,feeds, media streams, and more (suggested by the global interface industry)? How caninterface design act in other ways – critically, politically and tactically – in this situation?These are questions that address new figures of struggle: how to cope with an imperialinterface industry, and how to seek out creative and positive alternatives.

In this talk I return to the history of critical interface design in the 1980s and 90s – fromScandinavian design’s collaboration with workers’ unions (the UTOPIA project) totactical media and Internet culture. The intention is to reflect on what can be learnedfrom these traditions, and how to repurpose their insights and techniques today.

Christian Ulrik Andersen (Denmark)
is Associate Professor at Aarhus University,Department of Digital Design and Information Studies & Center for Participatory IT.

Christian Ulrik Andersen