Interface Design: Material Objects and Immaterial Culture. A Focus Gallery Project


Spring 2013


Digital Media Lab


Kimon Keramidas

This course will consider the materiality and design of the digital interfaces that are an increasingly important part of our daily lives. Perhaps the most important paradigmatic shift to take place in the Information Age has been the shift of cultural production from analog to digital technologies. Digitization has magnified the separation of media texts from their physical delivery media, thereby changing the material foundations of cultural production. Media texts have, in a sense, become immaterial, as they can much more easily be digitally produced and reproduced and then transmitted across any of a number of different platforms. Students will investigate how interface design impacts the materiality of these platforms and how the design of hardware and software shapes our experiences with the immaterial culture of the Information Age. The course will focus on changes to the design of personal computing over the last thirty years and the ways in which daily experiences with digital technologies are shaped by the materiality of modern interfaces. Topics to be covered include: a brief look at the material experience of non-computing interfaces such as televisions, radios, and even the book; the importance of design in the field of personal technology and the cultural phenomena surrounding gadgets such as the iPod and Kindle; the impact of computer and computer peripheral design on leisure and work spaces; and the ways in which interfaces influence and shape creativity and freedom of experience in apparent and hidden ways. The course will include assignments that will expose students to the collaborative and creative as well as intellectual aspects of digital design.


This course will also be the beginning platform for a focus gallery exhibition currently planned for Spring 2015. Student research will be aimed towards formulating and answering questions that will be central to that exhibition and will play a part in gathering information on a collection of objects that will be considered for the final exhibition checklist. We will also keep in mind possibilities for exhibition design as the course progresses, especially in light of considering gallery spaces as interfaces and the challenge of integrating digital interfaces into exhibitions, which are already complex knowledge-building structures. 3 credits.