Computers are extremely complex machines for which, since early times, their inner workings have to be hidden behind interfaces in order to use them. Software engineering and interface design have developed strategies of information hiding and functional segmentation to accomplish this. Systems like Doug Engelbart’s NLS, Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad, Alan Kay’s Dynabook, the Graphical User Interfaces, the iTunes Store, Facebook and Cloud Computing are examples of highly complex designs that show simplicity at their surface. People are not expected to know anything about what goes on at the backend.
But surprisingly and on top of usual simplifications a new mode of design appears along with mobile devices and capacitative screens: the trivialization of information processes. Devices with technical specifications that personal computers possessed ten years ago, without cables, keyboards or mice, mimicking chocolate bars and slates formerly known as equipment of first graders now seduce us to once again paint with our fingers and grope for the objects of our desire. And we are content and buy these gadgets, millions a day. Things are easy once again, much easier than we would ever accept them to be on a conventional PC. Trivialized users are happy to touch what they have learned to desire from the screen. The haptic replaces the visual and the intellectual as if to compensate for the loss of the material that computers imposed on us. And this renders the wonders of shortly elapsed times, like the interactivity of media art, to become 99 Cents worth’s items in an app store. Is there anybody who is still taken by surprise? Is it really all that trivial?
But: trivialization is in no way trivial. Programming stays in between of art and magic and what we meet here are highlights of these skills that are admirable in every aspect.
This trend even prevails in the information systems at large, especially those of highest acceptance: Google’s Page Rank replaces significance, iPods don’t want to be computers, Facebook utterly trivializes friendship, hopefully taken metaphorically by everybody, Cloud Computing hides responsibility for data.
Does the computer become a trivial machine, the “love affair of the western culture”, as Heinz von Foerster put it? It is the feuilleton that is now the place for criticism of the digital, not the corner of those capable of reading assembler code? Isn’t there anything left be looked behind? Has everything really gotten that trivial?
We would like to discuss these issues with you at HyperKult this year, being the twentieth of our workshop series. Contributions from art, science, humanities and technology are highly welcome. Please send us your sketches, abstracts and ideas, not more than one or two pages, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org until April 23th 2011.
You will be informed about acceptance until May 8th.
- Lena Bonsiepen
- Wolfgang Coy
- Rolf Großmann
- Wolfgang Hagen (asked)
- Jochen Koubek
- Andreas Möller (asked)
- Claus Pias
- Martin Schreiber
- Georg Christoph Tholen
- Georg Trogemann (asked)
- Anna Tuschling
- Martin Warnke
Event dates: July 7th to 9th, 2011
Leuphana University Lüneburg
Computing and Media Centre and
Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media