Edited by Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold, Interface Criticism – Aesthetics Beyond Buttons

Aarhus University Press

Aarhus University Press, ISBN: 978-8779345041, 2011, 296 pages, English
Working on interface aesthetics since the early 2000s, the Digital Aesthetics Research Center at the University of Aarhus never gave up its pioneering research goals. Hosting the ReadMe software art festival in 2004, the organization started to ground its research on software culture, joining the local scholars of an active international scene. It’s not by accident that in the introduction Andersen and Pøld are calling for what they have pursued for a long time: “interface criticism.” The book abounds with critical and timely texts. The first chapter starts with a compelling historical research by Erkki Huhtamo (with unique pictures), investigating the concept of interface back in 19th century urban advertising. The body and the skin as our interface with the world and the concept of “hapticity” are also investigated in the section “The Interface at the Skin”, while in “Representation and Communication” theorists like Cramer and Fuller target the GUI as something both transparent and to be left behind in the near future. Cox and Andersen, instead, discuss the familiar “live coding” performance practice. In the last chapter Arns and Lillemose deal with vocabularies and transparency (respectively) while Christoph Bruno ends with a kind of an intervention, ironically linking French presidential candidates with his tactical interventions on Google. With a cover image by net.art hero Alexei Shulgin, this book is not a compendium of approached that have been explored in the past, but a good starting point for the future of interface studies.