Hookway 2014

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Hookway, Branden. Interface. MIT Press, 2014.

“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.” (1)

“Increasingly the interface constitutes the gateway through which the reservoir of human agency and experience is situated with respect to all that stands outside of it, whether technological, material, social, economic, or political.” (1)

“The interface is defined here as a kind of theoretical construct whose essential characteristics and operations are common to each of its various realized instantiations. Specifically, the interface is treated here as a form of relation . This is to say that what is most essential to a description of the interface lies not in the qualities of an entity or in lineages of devices or technologies, but rather in the qualities of relation between entities.” (4)

“A preliminary definition of interface might then be as follows: the interface is a form of relation that obtains between two or more distinct entities, conditions, or states such that it only comes into being as these distinct entities enter into an active relation with one another; such that it actively maintains, polices, and draws on the separation that renders these entities as distinct at the same time as it selectively allows a transmission or communication of force or information from one entity to the other; and such that its overall activity brings about the production of a unified condition or system that is mutually defined through the regulated and specified interrelations of these distinct entities. Or again: the interface is that form of relation which is defined by the simultaneity and inseparability of its processes of separation and augmentation, of maintaining distinction while at the same time eliding it in the production of a mutualism that may be viewed as an entity in its own right, with its own characteristics and behaviors that cannot be reduced to those of its constituent elements.” (4)

“The interface is defined in its coupling of the processes of holding apart and drawing together, of confining and opening up, of disciplining and enabling, of excluding and including.” (4)

“In its occupation of the threshold, the interface is both the conduit through the threshold and the judge sitting upon the threshold to determine what may pass through and the manner of its passing. Both of these aspects of the interface constitute a kind of friction upon the threshold that requires work or the exertion of energy to overcome.” (7)

Interface as etymologically a contradiction: “In combination, the interface is both an interiority confined by its bounding entities and a means of accessing, confronting, or projecting into an exteriority.” (9)

Interface vs surface (12ff)

“If the surface may be seen as the culmination, expression, or concealment of a thing, and so in varying ways the means by which a thing may be made available for theorization or some form of reading, then the interface may likewise be seen as the culmination, expression, or concealment of an active relation between things. What the theorization of the interface reveals is not the properties or essence of a thing but rather the interplay, within a relation, in the shaping of a mutually generated behavior or action.” (14)

“the interface may in part be viewed as a spatial and temporal actualization of those processes of subjectification that characterize the relation of human beings to technology.” (18)