[artinfo] (fwd) CfP: Conf. Interface Critique, UdK Berlin

Andreas Broeckmann ab at mikro.in-berlin.de
Wed Jul 23 11:32:30 CEST 2014


Developing a cultural science perspective of the human-machine interface
Call for Papers for an interdisciplinary 
symposium at the Institute for Theory and 
Practice of Communication at the Berlin 
University of Arts,

November 7 - 8, 2014, Berlin, Germany.


GUIs, TUIs and NUIs: An “I" in acronyms to describe human-machine
interfaces has become as common as mysterious. The more it is taken for
granted, the more it seems to escape our understanding. What does
"interface" mean in the context of contemporary 
technical development? The trend towards 
unobstrusiveness is conspicuous: "Deep 
"actionable notifications" or "Shytech" - the 
visual aesthetic trends tend to hide mechanisms, 
functions and processes. How can we critically 
examine interfaces that increasingly disappear 
into the background?
The symposium tries to understand the phenomenon "interface" in its
dynamic development in order to develop critical perspectives beyond
culturally pessimistic reflexes. We are looking 
for papers dealing with topics such as inclusion 
and exclusion, subjectivation and 
desubjectivation, continuities and 
non-simultaneity. Considering that many 
interfaces are not only connected with each 
other, but also merge into one another, that they 
not only enable communication with technology, 
but also normalize it, it becomes evident: 
understanding interfaces is an approach to 
understanding the world. We suggest the following 

Panel 1 - Theories, Terms, Concepts
From an understanding of "interface" as a separating but also mediating
device to more controversial explorations of the 
term, this panel wants to discover new ways of 
thinking about interfaces. The theoretical 
discourse on "interfaces" varies from space 
theory (Drucker) to theories of power (Galloway). 
In the tension between these interdisciplinary 
perspectives the interface appears as an 
oscillating nexus, whose dynamic and actuality 
provokes ever new definitions. Spatial, 
process-oriented or as an effect - in this panel 
we invite to discover new understandings of the 
term, to step into its shadow, fathom the unseen 
and question assumed fixations.

Panel 2 - Micro history
Focusing on the artefacts' context and the 
details of actual practice, this panel draws 
relations between the historical protagonists and 
surrounding world. The micro-historical approach 
offers an analysis of time periods within which 
the historical contexts are withdrawn from its 
écriture automatique, from the institutional and 
technological logic, and thereby throws the 
"human factor" back into the macro-historical 
discourse. Think of investigations about selected 
individiuals (designers, developers, 
entrepreneurs) and their environment, about 
concrete strategic orientations and actions of 
certain companies, or even about specific 
updates, revisions or extensions of services, 
apps or operating systems.

Panel 3 - Trends and Paradigms
Within this panel we want to discover the 
paradigms of interface design as subjects of 
cultural criticism and reflection. It deals with 
current and past trends, with historical 
developments of design paradigms and the 
interactions of utilization and development, 
appropriation and normalization.
How adaptive, open and context-sensitive is and was the conception of
interfaces? Who gives whom how much room for 
appropriation? Is it possible to think concepts 
such as Skeuomorphism, flat or material design as 
concepts of cultural history? What does it mean 
to conceive the interface as an apparatus?

Panel 4 - Talk and Narration of and through interfaces
Hard- and software converge to create new forms of communication that
we often live with before we can talk about them. We ask about the
hermeneutics of interfaces, about the 
interpretation of their texts, signs and symbols. 
We are interested in narratives: those that 
enroll in interfaces and those that will - as 
parts of our culture - also be part of the 
writing of history.
How do wording conventions (UIDL) and metaphors (such as stream, tweet,
cloud etc.) become established? How and with 
which tonality do interfaces talk with users? 
Which zones, gaps, restrictions and accesses can 
be articulated? And what does this mean for our 
everyday construction of language and reality?

The symposium follows an interdisciplinary approach and addresses
researchers of all disciplines who want to 
discuss their work in the context of cultural 
science. Explicitly invited (besides cultural 
scientists) are researchers of technical 
disciplines and designers. Papers can refer to 
the panels depicted above, but can also open up 
other perspectives. Proposals can be in English 
or German. Please send your abstract with a 
maximum of 300 words and a short biography to 
proposals at interfacecritique.net.

Deadline is August 15th.

August 15th: Deadline Abstracts
November 7th/8th: Conference

proposals at interfacecritique.net


Conference organizers:
Joachim Haupt - j.haupt at udk-berlin.de
Florian Hadler - flohadler at udk-berlin.de

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