Category Archives: Interface Manifesto

27 May

Interview with César Escudero about his Hangar Residency


César Escudero Andaluz is the winner of MEMBRANA grant, which allowed him to spend one and a half months developing the project Interfight. Below he answers some questions about his residency at Hangar.

What does your project consist of? Where did it originate and how has it evolved?

The idea is simple: it consists of generating feedback between graphic and physical interfaces, two “surfaces” that detect each other and interact autonomously.
 In practical terms, it entails the creation of a physical interface using electronic components and a microprocessor. This interface, which measures around four centimetres, functions on capacitive surfaces such as touchscreens. When contact occurs, it detects a change in the luminosity of the screen and carries out mechanical actions such as moving, vibrating, or gliding over the screen.

The fact that it is made our of capacitive material means that it can be detected by smartphones and tablets, so that as it glides over the screen it automatically carries out actions such as clicking, scrolling and zooming. It automatically clicks on icons, opens applications, randomly explores places on Google maps, moves through profiles, and clicks without any criteria at all, anywhere on social networks. (“they’re pesky sometimes”)

The second part of the project consists of creating an app for android, based on the desktop metaphor. The app copies and imitates the interface, creates icons, folders and files that respond in an animal-like manner when they come into contact with the physical interface. In a sense, they interact with each other like artificial life interfaces.

The project was born in 2014. It started as a proposal to develop new tangible interfaces in Martin Kaltenbrunner’s workshop at the Interface Cultures LAB in Linz, Austria. It was called “Scroller Toy” because it was made out of old toy mechanisms. The idea and the concept were very similar: in this first prototype the Android app also imitated the desktop interface and interacted with the physical interface in the form of particles exploding like fireworks.

What materials and technology did you use?

Scroller Toy uses recycled materials, small toy mechanisms that I combine with an app for tablets programmed in Unity 3D. For Interfight I use electronic components such as photo-resistances, circuits, batteries, vibrators, and motors connected to an Arduino microcontroller.

What are your artistic influences? Can you tell us some examples of artists who have inspired you? What about other influences outside of the art field?

One clear influence is Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, pioneers of interactive art who also use biology as one of the core themes of their work, but there are many other references.

If we see research as a process that involves generating new concepts based on questions that expand our knowledge of the world, artistic research asks questions based on and using artistic processes and objects. What questions do your objects raise?

In this case, the questions emerge from the research; the project seeks to draw attention to problems linked to interfaces, to human-machine interaction and also computer-computer interaction. The artistic object here does not put forward a particular discourse, it leaves it open to be interpreted by users.

One of the objectives of PIPES BCN is to produce a Critical Interface Manifesto and part of your residency consisted of participating in the Manifesto working group. How did this influence your project?

The project takes a critical approach to the interface. “The ideology of the interface is always embedded in the interface itself”, is one of the points of the Manifesto. The Manifesto and the project developing hand in hand, and many of the points from the manifesto are reflected in the project.

How will you continue your research?

In June I’m returning to the Interface Cultures LAB in Linz, Austria, to keep working on the project, which will be shown at the 2015 Ars Electronica Festival. By then I will have developed the app and written a paper to present at some conference.

What did the MEMBRANA grant and the working environment at Hangar contribute to your project?

The grant provided a workspace, residency, and financial and technical support. It has been a very pleasant environment in which to share points of view. The working context of the PIPES group provided a broad and detailed overview of the concept of the interface, as well as proposals and methodologies for work, verified material, dynamics, and critical approaches. It has been a very interesting platform in which to develop and show results, with total freedom to experiment, and a core group of professionals who have facilitated the whole process.

06 Mar

Manifesto Sprint

Con el propósito de terminar de forma colabortiva el “Manifiesto para una Interfaz Crítica”  hemos invitado a un grupo de investigadores en las áreas del diseño, los estudios culturales o la antropología, que se suma al  equipo de investigación de PIPES. Jorge Luís Marzo, Jara Rocha, Rosa LLop, Pau Alsina, Curro Claret y Femke Steling nos acompañan en esta fase del proyecto para pensar, escribir y diseñar juntos la publicación final que verá la luz a finales de junio.

El reto que tenemos entre manos es  escribir un conjunto de textos que pueda aportar perspectivas interesantes al debate sobre Interface Cristicsm, y al mismo  diseñar una publicación cuya interfaz sea coherente con su contenido.

Con estos objetivos en mente, el 20 de febrero tuvo lugar la primera sesión del Manifesto-Sprint. Hemos tomado prestada la metodología del Book Sprint  que permite trabajar de   forma intensiva y colaborativa en la publicación de un libro, y la hemos aplicado a la redacción de los statements. La siguiente sesión del Manifesto Sprint tendrá lugar los días 16 y 17 de Mayo. Durante ese fin de semana pondremos en común todos los textos y trabajaremos en el diseño de la interfaz final del manifiesto.

En el pad que estamos utilizando  pueden consultarse la dinámicas que seguimos así como los temas de discusión y el resultado de la puesta en común de los statements.


Captura de pantalla 2015-02-26 a les 14.06.39 Captura de pantalla 2015-02-26 a les 14.06.29 Captura de pantalla 2015-02-26 a les 14.05.22 Captura de pantalla 2015-02-26 a les 14.04.51 Captura de pantalla 2015-02-26 a les 14.04.06


04 Feb

Membrana grant resolution

On behalf of the jury the selected project for MEMBRANA residency grant is: “Interfight” by César Escudero Andaluz

César Escudero Andaluz (LIC, MA, MFA) studied Fine Arts and Architecture & Design at the University of Salamanca, Visual Arts and Multimedia at the Politechnical University of Valencia. Since 2011 he is researching at the Kunstuniversität Linz in Interface Culture LAB. Working in the field between users and interfaces. +info 

escudero2 escudero1 escuderoescudero4

Images of the project File_Món by César Escudero

During MEMBRANA residency César Escudero will collaborate with PIPES on the interface manifesto and will develop an artistic application that explores the boundaries  between Interface-Interface, Interface-Human. The work will consist on a physical, kinetic Interface, under the aesthetic of dysfunction, made of conductive material, that interacts with a GUI on capacitive surfaces like touch-screens. The project in its multidisciplinary nature, will promote inductive and deductive aspects as well as a theoretical and practical research initiated in the previous thesis “FUNCTION LOGIC DYSFUNCTION. The artistic instrument and interactive environment” UPV, 2011 and “FROM THE IMAGE TO THE GUI. Falsehood and appropriation tactics in new media art” Interface Cultures, Linz.


11 Jan

PIPES @ Art Matters Conference

At the end on 2014 PIPES team took part of the Art Matters International Conference, performed in Barcelona during 11th and 12ht of December. We were part of a session entitled “Intangiibles: algorithms and interfaces”, and we shared panel with collegues Olivers Spall (Goldsmiths College) who talked about “Algorithm as artwork, artwork through algorithm“; Samantha Penn (University of London, Goldsmiths), Juan Pablo de la Vega (University of London, Goldsmiths) who are researching about “The exhibition as an interface: how might software studies affect the way we think about encounters with art?“; and Moisés Mañas Carbonell (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia), Marina Pastor Aguilar (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia), who focused on a analysis of Zombie Media idea, under the title  “Zombie media. Disección, regeneración y reparación, agentes para la fabricación de sistemas lúdico- tecnocráticos”.

Laia Blasco, Andreu Belsunces and Clara Piazuelo from PIPES discussed about the work in progress of the project, describing the different partners involved, it’s objectives, research methodology, activites, networks, and tools. We also have depicted our theoretical framework from three combined perspectives: disciplines + authors + ideas. Finally, we presented the process of creation of the critical interface manifesto, highlighting some related manifesos, explaining the reasons of why we have decided to work in a manifesto as a format, spotted some of the points we’re begging to explore as a first draft of the manifesto, and talked about the final results expected.

Here you can display the slides of our presentation.





28 Nov

Interface Working Session

One of the aims of PIPES_BCN is the creation of a Critical Interface Manifesto. Our research team is currently working on it and on November 18th a collective work session took place in which some of the key concepts of the future Critical Interface Manifesto were shared and discussed.

Many of these ideas we are working with come from the reference bibliography that we have been reading like “Interface Criticism: Aesthetics Beyond the Buttons” (Christian Ulrik Andersen, Soren Bro Pold), “the Interface effect” (Alexander Galloway) or “Evil Media” (Matthew Fuller, Andrew Goffey) to name just a few.

The methodology that we followed within this framework was to display a brainstorming session in which every participant would contribute with three statements that could be part of an Interface Manifesto. We tried to organize some of these shared ideas and the result was a compilation of statements that summarize some controversial concepts crossing the interface conceptualization such as transparency, symmetry, collaboration, openness, ownership, etc.

During this working session other issues were discussed. First we look over the aims of the manifesto trying to answer some very basic questions like why should we focus and produce a manifesto, or how can we contribute to this field and who will be its target.

We also focused on questions related with the formal aspects of the manifesto that posed some dilemmas such as: should we strive for simplicity and clarity or rather should we try to be creative and poetic? or, should  the Manifesto itself  be an interface? and if yes, how can we design a coherent Manifesto so it can contain its ideology embedded on its own interface?



25 Nov

Mixed experience: when ‘users’ and ‘developers’ make tools together by Femke Snelting & OSP (Open Source Publishing)

Following the aim to explore the landscape between ‘users’ and ‘developers’ on digital tools, PIPES_BCN organized on November 7th a mixed experience inviting people prom Constant, a Brussels’ based association for Arts and Media, and design caravan OSP, in the framework of the Free Culture Forum.

The workshop reflected on the necessity of shift out our digital practices away from the pressures of meritocracy and the limits of the technocentrism, and the need to make tools together.

Participants were diverse, coming from graphic or fashion design, art, architechture, culture theory or activism. After the introductions, Femke Snelting from Constant, highlighted that design can be regarded as a strategy driven by tools which must be considered: they somehow channel experiences and expectations, and they condition the way we work. In this sense, Femke said, when we speak about tools we’re also talking about interfaces, so we have to blur the line between them.

After displaying this first thoughts, pals from Open Source Publishing Gijs De Heij and Eric Schrijver presented Visual Culture, a tool / interface that comes from the world of programming to share and publish any design project with the possibility to see and retrieve any previous version. Visual Culture provides an archive, a tool to publish and a tool to collaborate and share based on Git versioning software.

In this online software, each project is explained and each step is recorded, so a biography of those projects is built, basing future conversations. Through Visual Culture people can share their creative process on the web instead of taking it for itselfs. Knowledge is shared and exchanged, because it invites participants to create open source projects, so everyone can download it.

Saying so, the Tool Parade was launched, focusing on three different tools:

  1. Etherpad-to-graphviz, a collaborative graph visualization tool developed by OSP, where nodes (concepts, ideas, people, etc.) are linked to each other in different ways.
  2. html2print, also developed by OSP, is a little tool to start a print project using HTML, less/CSS and Javascript/Jquery to design it.
  3. Feed-to-be-fed comes from a streaming project where multiples images were uploaded by different users and displayed on a screen in public space, creating a public animation. Doing so, a narrative without hierarchy was built.

Participants separated in groups that tried and reflected on this tools according to their interests. The team that used etherpad-to-graphviz tried to represent a conversation between persons. As it works with coding language, they learnt the amount of layers between people and machines, and realized that average people don’t use the same languages as machines.

The second team worked on html2print, a tool that links web and print which can display text, code raw and print format. Using this, they tried to answer some of the questions setted for the workshops (as: is this a tool or an interface? How do you use it, or would you want to use it? Who has made this tool/interface, and why? among others). Team concluded that there’s a change on design: print design thinks on a static canvas, thinking first on a space and then organizing it. On web content is more fluent, and the design is thought taking in account dynamic issues. Similar to this software, OSP developed Ethertoff, a simple collaborative web platform, much resembling a wiki but featuring realtime editing thanks to Etherpad. Its output is constructed with equal love for print and web. Based on this, there’s an other software avaliable at where users can change design and content and printing it in pdf.

Regarding to Feed-to-be-fed, the participants talked about the tool as an open interface where people can collaborate in real time uploading videos from it’s computer, creating a collaborative work settled in the public space.  During the conversations, several points related to the future interface manifesto appeared.

14 assumptions about interfaces

  • What if we could work/thing with the tool? What if we could dialogue with the tool?
  • If you don’t realize the presence of the tool, you’ll even think about it.
  • Interfaces are part of out technobiography, are part of the way we live with tecnhnology.
  • We should interrogate tools (and interfaces): ask different things to different tools.
  • Some interfaces might have instruction manual to show it’s performance and to enable user to modify it.
  • Can all the interfaces be seen under the same ethical light? Should we classify them in different types? (i.e. communication vs creation interfaces).
  • Averages users could say: Knowing is trouble, not knowing is bliss.
  • We don’t want the tool to go away, not to make it INVISIBLE. We want the tool to be part of the world, not a bridge to “reality”. The tool is part of the reality.
  • Assuming that computers are here to stay, instead of make them “disappear”, how to have a more natural wanted foreground vs unnatural unwanted background.
  • Internet’s has agency power on people: always connected, always uploading, faster.
  • Thinking on transparency and honesty of interfaces: there is a lot of decisions we take every time, we cannot see ALL, do ALL, deal with ALL, so it’s much more about what we CHOOSE.
  • Regarding internet GUI: It was very interesting to see how HTML teaching became a way to professionalize, so students accepted learning html as an standard.
  • There are some examples of transparent interfaces: Inkscape, Laidout.
  • Commercial products shape the way professional interfaces should look: Gimp has to look “professional” so it becomes a stokolm sindrom to look like photoshop.



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