(edited by) Hava Aldouby – Shifting Interfaces, An Anthology of Presence, Empathy, and Agency in 21st-Century Media Arts


Leuven University Press, ISBN-13: 978-9462702257, English, 332 pages, 2020, Belgium

If we can relate every medium to our senses, then we might also claim that media art is, more often than not, about our own subjectivity and our own bodies. Shifting Interfaces is an anthology of texts divided into three sections, each focusing on three different fields that affect our self-awareness. The first section features essays on the perception of our own presence and body, exploring the ephemeral dimensions of simulation (VR, telepresence, avatars), these spaces where intersubjectivity can manifest itself across different protocols. The second section critiques our lack of agency in embracing industrial and voracious big data platforms, discussing collective counter-strategies, including artworks that attack the outcomes of digital surveillance. In the third section, several examples of non-human agents are explored, including biomedia art (with Jens Hauser discussing bacteria, for example), through to technologies that question human supremacy, or those that enhance human nature through previously impossible perspectives (drones). The selection of essays looks for “new forms of connectivity”, Aldouby argues. All contributions are academically and artistically on the cutting edge, and, displaying a critical awareness of various aspects of presence, empathy and agency, they provide the reader with a consistent, multifaceted overview.