Performative Aesthetics of Interactivity

“Could it be that the design and aesthetics of interaction are subject to the same conditions of
increase of technical capability without significant development of ideas? The rapid advance
in bells and whistles permits interfacial cosmetic niceties undreamable 20 years ago. [9] The
techno-fetishism of higher resolutions and faster bit-rates serves the needs of an industry
which depends on obsolescence (as perceived or as inbuilt material breakdown) to remain
profitable, often deploying novelty to obscure a void of significant advancement. The ‘all the
time, everywhere’ catchphrase of pervasive computing (like the prospect of the same trivial
and pathetic ‘content’ consuming more bandwidth as HD and 3D television) can be seen as a
marketing device for bit-peddlers. Increasingly, physical devices are loss-leader market capture devices, as printers are for ink cartridges.”

Here Penny touches on some interesting points. Our technology seems to be increasing but, the lack of new and innovative ideas for interaction seems stagnant.  Penny believes many of the interactive works such as Gordon Pask’s Musicolor and Grey Walter’s Turtles stand the test of time and seem to be more sophisticated than most interactive works to date. Until the past decade or so these technologies used were in the hands of technologists, and maybe a had full of these technologies were making interactive works. I believe now that the internet is more engrained in our everyday lives, we will seen this change exponentially. The maker culture is growing. In time we will start to see this change. In my opinion it is more about accessibility. Before you had to know someone to understood how these technologies worked which greatly limited growth. Nowadays, anyone with an interest can research these technologies and achieve interactivity. As time moves on, technological jobs will be more in demand as many jobs such as the pharmacist, will be greatly reduced due to robots. Through time, as a society we will be forced to be more technological savvy to survive.

Cost is also an issue. It is possible to have full on interactive  structures where everything is integrated. But isn’t necessarily feasible due to the market.

So is innovations in interactive technologies directly linked to our economic model?

Our capitalistic society focuses on profit, if an idea does not appeal greatly to the masses it will not be invested in. The individual is powerful, but some of these technologies requires a team. And if there is not a team that is being funded less innovations will occur. I’ve see examples of innovations in interactive technologies that utilize kick starter as a tool so it is possible to break out of. Technology in general is fuel by the economy. There is a high demand for technology therefore our technology is increasing, however, although interactivity is an important aspect in the growth of interactive, maybe there isn’t a great enough market for it.

“My position here is evolutionary and materialist: interaction makes
sense to the extent that it is consistent with or analogous to the learned effects of action in
the ‘real world’. Our ability to predict, and find predictable, behaviours of digital systems, is
rooted in evolutionary adaptation to embodied experience in the world. We are first and foremost,embodied beings whose sensori-motor acuities have formed around interactions with humans, other living and non-living entities, materiality and gravity. We understand digitalenvironments on the basis of extrapolations upon such bodily experience-based prediction. This is easy to understand in mimetic environments such as Second Life, but is equally present in more basic mouse-screen levels of interaction.”

Here Penny discusses how we learn to interact with these interactive technologies. We learn the limitations of interactivity with the ‘real world’ as much as we learn interactivity in digital environments. The new generation, being born in a world with interactivity more closely tied to our society, have leared to use an iphone as much as they learn how to throw a football. Seniors of our society often still have issues controlling things such as the television. This interaction with buttons was completely new and some probably feared the technology and change to tackle these issues.

How many generations will it take until new innovations in interactive will come second nature regardless of it’s interface? Will technologies of brain machine interfaces be too much for us to grasp but not the new generation?

“Conversations regarding the aesthetics of interaction sometimes take on a weirdly schizophrenic quality due to the fact that some speak from the point of view of user experience
and some from the point of view of system design. The question ‘is it interactive?’ can have
wildly different answers depending on this point of view. One can maintain, as some do, that
viewing a photograph is ‘interactive’.”


Viewing a regular painting is interactive but the interaction is limited. The experience is a stagnant one. Penny states that interactive design, implies a process.

If a regular painting isn’t interactive design, wheat about the process of creating a painting.

What is


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