Aarhus University Seal

Affective Interfaces

Public seminar at IT University of Copenhagen.

Info about event


Thursday 30 November 2017,  at 10:00 - 18:00


Rued Langgaards Vej 7, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark

Affective Interfaces brings together scholars, designers and artists in a joint exploration of the interfacial engagements and arrangements conditioning our everyday lives by focusing on the affective modulations effectuated by electronic, digital and architectural interfaces on a cultural, aesthetic and political level.

"Interface" is a multifaceted term. It is both noun and verb, object and practice, it can denote a symbolic surface, an input device, a philosophical concept, and it is "typically both intensely embodied and diffusely abstract" (Munster 2006). It seems increasingly difficult in practice to locate instances in which the life of individuals is not modulated or controlled by some kind of interfacial engagement and operations.

Affective Interfaces features a range of international speakers and presentations addressing the theoretical and analytical challenges posed by the affectivity of interface events from the point of view of philosophy, digital aesthetics, artistic practices and interaction design.

The seminar is organised by the DFF research project Affects, Interfaces, Events, in which we are particularly interested in exploring the role of interfacial engagement and events in relation to the mobilization and circulation of affect in a number of cultural contexts, from a transdisciplinary perspective.

Participation is free but registration is necessary at torstenand@hum.ku.dk.

Abstracts and bios:

Cross-Examination: The Izbica Massacre Video

Susan Schuppli // Goldsmith University

Having spent a great deal of time reviewing video footage entered into evidence during the legal proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), I have come to the realisation that the affective remainder of such materials has not in fact been entirely evacuated by the legal protocols to which they were subjected, as I had once surmised. On the contrary, an “informed material” was produced in the sense advanced by Isabelle Stengers, in which the materials’ physical handling and institutional management combined with its discursive legal uptake as disputed evidence resulted in its progressive “informational enrichment.”  Drawing on the case of the Izbica massacre that took place in Kosovo in 1999, I examine how video evidence documenting the crime transited through the Tribunal, from its pre-trial proceedings and disclosure, to its presentation before the Trial Chambers in the cases of Miloševi?, Milutinovi?, and Dordevi?. As the tape journeyed through the ICTY it furnished a great deal of insight into its complex legal role as an interface between victims and perpetrators; a relationship organised by the institutional protocols of the court and the affective register of testimony, which included human as well as material witnesses.

Bio: Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in the UK, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters. Current work explores the ways in which toxic ecologies from nuclear accidents and oil spills to the dark snow of the arctic are producing an “extreme image” archive of material wrongs. Creative projects have been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US. Recent projects include Trace Evidence, a video trilogy commissioned by Arts Catalyst UK & Bildmuseet, Sweden and Atmospheric Feedback Loops, a Vertical Cinema commission for Sonic Acts, Amsterdam. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness (MIT Press). Schuppli is Reader and Acting Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London and was previously Senior Research Fellow on the Forensic Architecture project. In 2016 she received the ICP Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research.

Reading-Writing the Metainterface Body

Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold // Aarhus University

In our coming book, The Metainterface, we describe how the interface has developed beyond the PC and is integrated into devices, apps, clouds, and data streams as new cultural platforms. The metainterface is both omnipresent and invisible, universal and intimate, at once embedded in everyday objects and characterized by hidden exchanges of information between objects. Besides cartographic mapping of traffic and people’s whereabouts from Google, social media and smart city services, we also see a more intimate relation to – and control of bodies. In order to focus on how the body is controlled and scripted by the metainterface we will present two artistic examples of metainterface bodies: JODI’s app ZYX which deconstructs the metainterface body and Erica Scourti’s Body Scan which demonstrates how the body is read, profiled and interpreted as a data structure and a commercial entity in the metainterface.

Bio: Søren Bro Pold is PhD and Associate Professor of digital aesthetics. He has published on digital and media aesthetics – from the 19th-century panorama to the interface in its various forms, e.g. on electronic literature, net art, software art, creative software, urban interfaces and digital culture. He took part in establishing the Digital Aesthetics Research Centre in 2002, in 2004 he co-organised the Read_me festival on software art, and he was in charge of the research project "The Aesthetics of Interface Culture" from 2004 to 2007. Later he was research manager in the Center for Digital Urban Living (2008-2012). Currently he is leader of the research programme “Humans and Information Technology”, part of the interdisciplinary research centre Participatory Information Technology,  the research project Literature Between Media and Translating Electronic Literature: A Transatlantic Program in Collaborative Digital Humanities. In relation to these research fields and groups, he has been active in establishing interface criticism as a research perspective, which discusses the role and the development of the interface for art, aesthetics, culture and IT.

Activist Sense – Interfacing Affective Relays

Christoph Brunner // Leuphana University Lüneburg

In my talk, I will reflect on the experiences made at the alternative Media Centre FC/MC during the G20 summit 2017 in Hamburg. The FC/MC was part of a local and translocal infrastructure of protests against the principal economic agenda of the G20 states. Located at Hamburg’s stadium of St Pauli, the center was in the midst of protests, riots and violent police interventions for 96 hours straight, surrounded by the eternal noise of helicopters. The fourfold structure of the center consisted of 400 work stations for accredited press, alternative media practitioners, and activist; a website and life-stream broadcasting for 96 hours; two television-studios and eight media production-stations; and a data storage for archiving the event. With the technical support of the Chaos Computer Club and over 200 crew members the center hosted five press conferences, maintained a continuous live-stream and produced over 80 media formats. As integral part of the protest’s genesis the center’s information office operated a twitter channel for the verification and falsification of fake news in social media structures. In addition to the infrastructural and media technological assemblage, one of the center’s key functions resided in its capacity of becoming a social interface for diverse groups to meet, work, and live together. These emergent structures persist beyond the actual event of organized protest and become even more pertinent in the aftermath of the G20 where a quarrel over the interpretative authority of the event permeates media, municipal and federal governments, and becomes a crucial element of the current trials mostly against activist. Beyond the high-speed series of events and the mainstream media coverage deploying quick judgements (mostly amplifying violence over peaceful protest and its contents) the center aimed at different modes of affection and affective relaying of the events, producing alternative formats, emphasizing a different media aesthetics and forms of protest. What I will explore as activist sense pertains to specific modes of interfacing affective relays as the center’s “relational glue” and further reflect on alternative media practices altering dominant sensible regimes and their perceptual politics. The interface, I suggest, becomes a distributed capacity of relation heterogeneous elements without turning them into a coherent system. On the contrary, interfacing affective relays might provide first steps towards a conception of alternative media practice as differential and dissensual process, capable of acknowledging both continuity and discontinuity being part of the same event.



Designing into the Unknown: engaging with material and aesthetic uncertainty

Danielle Wilde // University of Southern Denmark

New materials with new capabilities demand new ways of approaching design. Destabilising existing methods is crucial to develop new methods. Yet, radical destabilisation—where outcomes remain unknown long enough that new discoveries become possible—is not easy in technology design where complex interdisciplinary teams with time and resource constraints need to deliver concrete outcomes on schedule. In this talk, Wilde will give a live account from research, reporting on the Poetic Kinaesthetic Interface project (PKI). PKI engages with this problematic directly by using unfolding processes—informed by participatory, speculative and critical design—in emergent actions, to design towards unknown outcomes, using unknown materials. The impossibility of this task is proving as useful as it is disruptive. At its most potent, it is destabilising expectations, aesthetics and processes, keeping the researchers, collaborators and participants in a state of unknowing, opening the research potential to far-ranging possibilities. Wilde will unpack the motivations driving the PKI project, and present the underlying mixed-methodology, which entangles textile crafts, design interactions and materiality to shape an embodied enquiry. The project brings together diverse human, non-human, known and unknown actors to discover where the emergent assemblages might lead. The research outcomes are procedural and methodological. The approach is re-invigorating—as it demands re-envisioning of—the design process.

Bio: Danielle Wilde is associate professor of Embodied Design at The University of Southern Denmark, Kolding. She directs the Body Bio Lab, develops curriculum and leads research on local, national and international collaborative projects focused on embodied engagement, design and diversity, ecological accountability and social connectedness. Her teaching and leadership are research-based, research-led and research-oriented. Her research actions emerge from and contribute to the practice of design, while affording focused reflection on the social and cultural implications of the research concerns. The resulting contributions are technical, theoretical, methodological and cultural. Wilde publishes and exhibits widely, and has won numerous awards for her work. For more info see: daniellewilde.com


Group as interface – Elements for a Mechanology of Participation

Yuk Hui // Leuphana University Luneburg

In this talk I propose to understand the concept of group as an interface between the individual and the collective by re-interpreting Simondon’s theory of individuation in order to elucidate these three concepts and their rrelations, which consist of fundamental elements for a mechanology of participation, yet to be developed. As an attempt to advance Simondon’s analysis and its practical realisation, I will elaborate on the modulative function of the group in the process of psychic and collective individuation and how the concept of group can be schematized in system design with the aid of two applied projects that I have developed in the past years with two groups of computer scientists, one on group-based social network and the other group-based recommender system.

Bio: Yuk Hui studied Computer Engineering, Cultural Theory and Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong and Goldsmiths College in London, with a focus on philosophy of technology. Currently he teaches philosophy at the IPK and researches in the DFG project Techno-ecologies of Participation at the ICAM, Leuphana University Lüneburg. He is also a visiting professor at the China Academy of Art and member of the Centre international des études simondoniennes (MSH Paris Nord). Previously, He was postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Research and Innovation of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as visiting scientist at the T-Labs Berlin.He published on philosophy of technology and media in periodicals such as Metaphilosophy, Research in Phenomenology, Angelaki, Parrhesia, Cahiers Simondon, Deleuze Studies, Techné, Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie, Implications Philosophiques, Krisis, Intellectica, New Formations, Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft among others. He is editor (with Andreas Broeckmann) of 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory (2015), author of On the Existence of Digital Objects (prefaced by Bernard Stiegler, University of Minnesota Press, 2016), and The Question Concerning Technology in China -An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, 2016).

So, how happy are you today (0-100%)?

Mogens Jacobsen // Artnode & ITU

Much work within affective HCI research has been done using relative simple technology as measuring skin-conductivity, measuring heart-rate or – using contemporary machine-learning strategies -capturing facial expressions or using pattern-recognition on multimodal inputs.
My talk will present an interactive art installation -The Pill Machine - developed as a collaborative work with the Medical Museion in Copenhagen. The installation tries to discuss theme of holistic body complexity by giving the users access to an unusual poetic diagnostic session.

Bio: Mogens Jacobsen is an artist who since the beginning of the 1990s has been working with electronic art. He was the co-founder of the artist collective Artnode (artnode.org) in 1995, the first Danish art group focusing on the Internet. Since 2001 he has left the screen and the personal computer as his medium for expression, to work primarily with artifacts, and installations, often with telematic and network connectedness as central elements. He has especially worked with a critical, satirical gaze on machines as cultural aesthetic phenomena and as images on functionalistic ontologies. His works appear as parafunctional machines with references to technological instruments or test equipment from (older) laboratories. But on a closer look, the interfaces reveal themselves as materialised representations of unusual themes or functions. He has exhibited at numerous national and international venues. For the past two years he has been part of the ITU IxD Lab.