March 8-10 2002, University of California Santa Barbara
Visual Arts Department, UC/San Diego
(all rights reserved)[Abstract]
Engineering Vision: the rise of computer imaging and HCI
(1940s-1980s) in the context of the shift from industrial to IT society; the engineering of vision in the 20th century (from Bauhaus to Media Lab).
The Language of New Media: new media in relation to modern visual and media culture of the last few centuries;
focus on continuities
HCI (human – interface – computer)
Cultural Interface (human – computer interface – culture). Examples:
Cultural applications: computer games, multimedia encyclopedias, virtual museum walk-throughs, e-books, interactive narratives, etc.
Culture-access software: Web browsers, media players, etc.
Cultural Interfaces of the 1990s: GUI + Print + Cinematic.
Example: Myst (1993)
New media, and, more generally, the aesthetics of IT society, is a mix between:
older conventions for data representation, access and manipulation = “culture”
newer conventions of data representation, access and manipulation = “information access”
IT aesthetics is situated between a number of oppositions:
form – information 
Immersion – interactivity
linearity - random access
depth – flatness
narrative – database
non-differentiation (gestalt, symbol) – modularity
fixed interface – multiple interfaces
culture – work 
 information - Form
Figuration / Abstraction (modernism) -- Figuration / data (informationalism).
Examples: Alex Galloway, John Simon, Lisa Jevbratt / C5, Warren Sacks
 Work Into Art: Work (i.e. information) Interfaces and Cultural Interfaces
Modernist strategy (“Bauhaus filter”):
(1) new aesthetics of industrial society already exists in the real of industrial work (factories, cars, bridges; ideology of engineering)
(2) transfer of this aesthetics to the everyday life (architecture, design)
(3) art as advertizement for this aesthetics
Modernist strategy re-applied to IT society (“info-Aesthetics”)
(1) new aesthetics of IT Society already exists in the realm of information work (i.e. software interfaces, or information interfaces). “Avant-garde as Software”
(2) systematically transfer the strategies of information interfaces to cultural interfaces. Visualization, database, multiple views of data, windows, email, etc. as new cultural forms/aesthetics.
The problems with direct transfer of modernist strategy - aesthetization of work in IT society.
Behind modernist strategy is the ideology of engineering.
Today it is hard to separating work and leisure, functional and non-functional.
From “engineering” to “experience design.”
Example: MAC OS 10 (2001)
“Data Beautiful” project