Branden Hookway
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this book, Branden Hookway considers the interface not as technology but as a form of relationship with technology. The interface, Hookway proposes, is at once ubiquitous and hidden from view. It is both the bottleneck through which our relationship to technology must pass and a productive encounter embedded within the use of technology. It is a site of contestation -- between human and machine, between the material and the social, between the political and the technological -- that both defines and elides differences. A virtuoso in multiple disciplines, Hookway offers a theory of the interface that draws on cultural theory, political theory, philosophy, art, architecture, new media, and the history of science and technology. He argues that the theoretical mechanism of the interface offers a powerful approach to questions of the human relationship to technology. Hookway finds the origin of the terminterfacein nineteenth-century fluid dynamics and traces its migration to thermodynamics, information theory, and cybernetics. He discusses issues of subject formation, agency, power, and control, within contexts that include technology, politics, and the social role of games. He considers the technological augmentation of humans and the human-machine system, discussing notions of embodied intelligence. Hookway views the figure of the subject as both receiver and active producer in processes of subjectification. The interface, he argues, stands in a relation both alien and intimate, vertiginous and orienting to those who cross its threshold.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32262-1
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xi)
    (pp. 1-57)

    Inasmuch as the range of human experience and performance is more and more defined and conditioned through the forces of technological development, the interface holds a familiar albeit indeterminate and even spectral presence. For while the interface might seem to be a form of technology, it is more properly a form of relating to technology, and so constitutes a relation that is already given, to be composed of the combined activities of human and machine. The interface precedes the purely technological, just as one encounters a mirror image before the mirror itself. Likewise, the interface describes the ways in which...

    (pp. 59-119)

    The wordinterfacewas coined in the nineteenth century by the engineer James Thomson in his influential work on fluid dynamics. It denoted a dynamic boundary condition describing fluidity according to its separation of one distinct fluid body from another. The interface would define and separate areas of unequal energy distribution within a fluid in motion, whether this difference is given in terms of velocity, viscosity, directionality of flow, kinetic form, pressure, density, temperature, or any combination of these. From difference the interface would produce fluidity. As a boundary condition it would be inherently active. While imperceptible in itself, it...

    (pp. 121-156)

    The Roman god Genius was held to encompass the whole nature of a person as both created and creating. Often associated with the forehead, Genius held claim over human agency and will. Dumézil identifies Genius with its Latin derivationsingignere, “to cause to be born in,” as well asingenium, the nature of that which is engendered.¹ It refers to both an engendering and what is engendered, whether as innate quality or natural disposition, constitution or character, mental ability or power, invention or ingenuity, or even as a trick or clever device. Its engendering both precedes agency and conditions it;...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 157-172)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 173-178)