fredriksvensk on Thu, 2 May 2002 18:32:01 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: GENERATION FLASH: Usability/Interaction

Kristoffer <> wrote:

>In his book "The Language of New Media", Lev Manovich states:
>"...given that most studies of new media and cyberculture focus on their
>sociological, economic and political dimensions, it was important for me to
>use the word language to signal the different focus of this work: the
>emergent conventions, recurrent design patterns, and key forms of new
>Thus it is clear how the series on "Flash aesthetics" fits perfectly into
>this preoccupation with the material qualities of digital media, as design
>material for a new breed of "neo-modernistic" artists...
>I'm returning the discussion to Manovich briefly, in order to ask a
>question which relates back to the usability/interaction thread. How is it
>possible to neglect the sociological, economic and political dimensions of
>new media work, especially in a context which seems to invoke an idea of
>"pure aesthetics"? I'm not saying that Manovich is totally doing it but
>in pointing in that direction, gives rise, maybe indirectly, to a
>theoretical cirisis: what about the user in the event based nature of new
>media, and maybe more importantly , how do we go about approaching the idea
>of the user?  
>Eryk Salvaggio wrote:  
>>There is a matter of addressing the Blue Haired lady or not, but in the
>end, that is the >central opinion of an artist alone for the work the
>artist is doing. If the work is designed to >appeal to the blue haired lady
>it has a blue haired lady interface, if the work is challenging >the idea
>of interface like jodi, there is no appeal for the blue haired lady. 
>For me, this represents a kind of "common sense" attitude towards
>interaction design. It is very effective in creating interactive content in
>new media, both for commercial and artistic purposes. But let's for a
>moment suppose that Gilles Deleuze was right in saying that art is never
>about communication, that it rather is an act of resistance through
>provocation. Then this type of approach to interaction design, will always
>fall within a "corporate" model, which offers us a very "reductive"
>version of the idea of the user. Within this user-oriented design, there is
>abstract interfaces and non-abstract interfaces – all depending on what
>type of user is targeted – the "persona" of commercial interaction
>design is like a virus, which spreads also to non-commercial software and
>new media art.
>A rethinking of the subject of the user is needed. And this can only go by
>way of realising that all interaction design is also constructing a
>specific type of user. In a recent paper, by Michelle Kendrick, the idea of
>the "e-subject" is interestingly connected to a neo-liberal humanist idea
>of the subject. ("Interactive Technology and the Remediation of the
>Subject of Writing", in Configurations 9) What is at stake, is a
>questioning of the criteria on which designers build interaction.
>It should then be clear that this rethinking needs to assess the
>"sociological, economic and political dimensions" initially neglected.
>Maybe one could look for possible ways of doing this in the "discourse
>analysis" of german media theorist Friedrich Kittler.  A starting point
>would be to pose the following question:
> - Why is the blue haired lady's hair blue?
>/Kristoffer Gansing

You are raising an important question here Kristoffer Gansing, especially if we consider interactive design as an expansion of the utopian idea of  hypertext as an liberating or perhaps empowering concept. Such a line of thought has to be rejected, since it does not question the performative status of the action of the user, if we as Judith Butler seams to do, think of performativity as an materialising process. And therefore I definitely think your demand for a rethinking of the “user subject” within the discourse of so called interactive design is needed.  To do so, I think we also have to consider who the desire to create a “free user subject” within  techno-media discourse is constituted, preferably without slipping into Deleuzeian nor Lacanian clichés (logocentric or not)? 

And, going back to Lev Manovich, who can we relate without dichotomising  the desire to as focus on the sociological, economic and political dimensions to the desire to focus on language within the study of new media and cuberculture?

- Why is the blue haired lady´s hairs a lady´s blue hair?

/Fredrik Svensk


Your favorite stores, helpful shopping tools and great gift ideas. Experience the convenience of buying online with Shop@Netscape!

Get your own FREE, personal Netscape Mail account today at

Nettime-bold mailing list