Søren Bro Pold

Søren Bro Pold is Associate Professor in Digital Design at Aarhus University and works with interface criticism, literature, and aesthetics.

  • The Metainterface

    The Metainterface

    The Art of Platforms, Cities, and Clouds

    Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Bro Pold

    How the interface has moved from the PC into cultural platforms, as seen in a series of works of net art, software art and electronic literature.

    The computer interface is both omnipresent and invisible, at once embedded in everyday objects and characterized by hidden exchanges of information between objects. The interface has moved from office into culture, with devices, apps, the cloud, and data streams as new cultural platforms. In The Metainterface, Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Bro Pold examine the relationships between art and interfaces, tracing the interface's disruption of everyday cultural practices. They present a new interface paradigm of cloud services, smartphones, and data capture, and examine how particular art forms—including net art, software art, and electronic literature—seek to reflect and explore this paradigm.

    Andersen and Pold argue that despite attempts to make the interface disappear into smooth access and smart interaction, it gradually resurfaces; there is a metainterface to the displaced interface. Art can help us see this; the interface can be an important outlet for aesthetic critique. Andersen and Pold describe the “semantic capitalism” of a metainterface industry that captures user behavior; the metainterface industry's disruption of everyday urban life, changing how the city is read, inhabited, and organized; the ways that the material displacement of the cloud affects the experience of the interface; and the potential of designing with an awareness of the language and grammar of interfaces.

Contributor

  • Critical Theory and Interaction Design

    Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, and Mark Blythe

    Classic texts by thinkers from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays by leaders in interaction design and HCI show the relevance of critical theory to interaction design.

    Why should interaction designers read critical theory? Critical theory is proving unexpectedly relevant to media and technology studies. The editors of this volume argue that reading critical theory—understood in the broadest sense, including but not limited to the Frankfurt School—can help designers do what they want to do; can teach wisdom itself; can provoke; and can introduce new ways of seeing. They illustrate their argument by presenting classic texts by thinkers in critical theory from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays in which leaders in interaction design and HCI describe the influence of the text on their work. For example, one contributor considers the relevance Umberto Eco's “Openness, Information, Communication” to digital content; another reads Walter Benjamin's “The Author as Producer” in terms of interface designers; and another reflects on the implications of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble for interaction design. The editors offer a substantive introduction that traces the various strands of critical theory.

    Taken together, the essays show how critical theory and interaction design can inform each other, and how interaction design, drawing on critical theory, might contribute to our deepest needs for connection, competency, self-esteem, and wellbeing.

    Contributors Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Olav W. Bertelsen, Alan F. Blackwell, Mark Blythe, Kirsten Boehner, John Bowers, Gilbert Cockton, Carl DiSalvo, Paul Dourish, Melanie Feinberg, Beki Grinter, Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir Holmer, Jofish Kaye, Ann Light, John McCarthy, Søren Bro Pold, Phoebe Sengers, Erik Stolterman, Kaiton Williams., Peter Wright

    Classic texts Louis Althusser, Aristotle, Roland Barthes, Seyla Benhabib, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Arthur Danto, Terry Eagleton, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Alan Kaprow, Søren Kierkegaard, Bruno Latour, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, James C. Scott, Slavoj Žižek

  • The Imaginary App

    The Imaginary App

    Paul D. Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko

    The mobile app as technique and imaginary tool, offering a shortcut to instantaneous connection and entertainment.

    Mobile apps promise to deliver (h)appiness to our devices at the touch of a finger or two. Apps offer gratifyingly immediate access to connection and entertainment. The array of apps downloadable from the app store may come from the cloud, but they attach themselves firmly to our individual movement from location to location on earth. In The Imaginary App, writers, theorists, and artists—including Stephen Wolfram (in conversation with Paul Miller) and Lev Manovich—explore the cultural and technological shifts that have accompanied the emergence of the mobile app. These contributors and interviewees see apps variously as “a machine of transcendence,” “a hulking wound in our nervous system,” or “a promise of new possibilities.” They ask whether the app is an object or a relation, and if it could be a “metamedium” that supersedes all other artistic media. They consider the control and power exercised by software architecture; the app's prosthetic ability to enhance certain human capacities, in reality or in imagination; the app economy, and the divergent possibilities it offers of making a living or making a fortune; and the app as medium and remediator of reality.

    Also included (and documented in color) are selected projects by artists asked to design truly imaginary apps, “icons of the impossible.” These include a female sexual arousal graph using Doppler images; “The Ultimate App,” which accepts a payment and then closes, without providing information or functionality; and “iLuck,” which uses GPS technology and four-leaf-clover icons to mark places where luck might be found.

    Contributors Christian Ulrik Andersen, Thierry Bardini, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, Benjamin H. Bratton, Drew S. Burk, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Robbie Cormier, Dock Currie, Dal Yong Jin, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Ryan and Hays Holladay, Atle Mikkola Kjøsen, Eric Kluitenberg, Lev Manovich, Vincent Manzerolle, Svitlana Matviyenko, Dan Mellamphy, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Steven Millward, Anna Munster, Søren Bro Pold, Chris Richards, Scott Snibbe, Nick Srnicek, Stephen Wolfram