IASLonline NetArt: Theory
History of Computer Art
An interface-model for pervasive games was introduced in chapter VII.2.
This model features players developing strategies of gameplay by mediations
between their world-interface (interface 1) and the "game interface"
("interface 2") to constitute the "game-oriented world-interface
(interface 3)". Below a modification of this model is sketched out
to be applied to the interfaces of personal computers and reactive installations.
The cognitive access to the world
1 and the pre-reflective body coordination for actions
in the world 2 constitute the `interface 1´ as
a world-interface. The `interface 2´ contains the technical interface
used by humans to control the output of a system via input in using for
example the interface components of a computer (Human-Computer-Interface,
HCI). `Interface 3´ is constituted by humans mediating their cognition
and their body coordination (interface 1) with a technical interface (interface
2). `Interface 3´ is constituted by the human abilities to develop
ways to use technical interfaces as well as a technically oriented world-interface
for the use of technologies as specific ways to explore the world,
or to deal with the world-interface in specific ways depending on the
technologies available for a use quite similar to protheses.
Sholes, Christopher Latham: Typewriter Keyboard Patent
Drawing. U.S. Patent No. 207,559. 27th August 1878, fig.3.
For typewriters the key arrangement called "QWERTY"
became a standard in English-speaking countries and in some other languages.
On each of these typewriters the first six keys in the second row have
the order "QWERTY". For computer keyboards the "QWERTY
typewriter keyboard" was taken over and became a standard, too. The
ten finger typing skills learnt in typewriting courses could be used again
for the input to the `interfaces 2´ of computers. 3
Augmentation Research Center: First computer mouse,
In the sixties the mouse and alternative
interfaces were developed at the Augmentation Research Center (ARC, a
department of the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park/California)
under the direction of Douglas
Carl Engelbart. This variety provoked investigations which kind of
a gadget can be used beside keyboards as a further part of the technical
interface to computers for a tactile control allowing a simultaneous concentration
of the visual perception on monitors. 4 For the evaluation
of the mouse´s acceptance only sporadic tests with contradictory
results were integrated into the development of prototypes (see chap.
VI.2.1 with ann.6). With these tests researchers at the ARC tried to explore
the human capabilities to use the body coordination for a tactile control
of gadgets without seeing them and permitting in this way an independent
view on the monitor. Compared with a device controlled by a knee and other
alternatives the mouse seemed to be a construction of equal value. 5
Augmentation Research Center: Left: A knee-operating
pointing device as an alternative to a mouse, 1967 or earlier. Right:
Grafacon, movable gyro-style pointing device as an alternative to a mouse,
As a possible use of the technical interface combining monitor, mouse,
keyboard and keyset (it became not an accepted part of the standard interface)
the researchers at the ARC developed hypertextual procedures augmenting
the uses of texts in writing systems. In using these technical interfaces
(interface 2) and concatenation techniques a project´s participant
gets access to hypertextual procedures. These procedures can provoke changes
in an observer´s way to activate his language competence (interface
1) for his efforts to understand texts (see chap. VI.2.1 with ann. 8-19).
With this modified understanding of texts participants of hypertext projects
constitute an `interface 3´ containing concepts of the planning
and implementing of "semantic webs" (see chap. VIII.1 with ann.6).
Augmentation Research Center: Prototype of an interface
for computers with monitor, manual, keyset (left) and mouse (right), 1967.
On the one side the (self-)trained ways to surf the
web in using hands and eyes on a keyboard, a manual, a mouse (or a touch
screen) and a browser can be described on the level of the `interface
3´. On the other side on this level observers are enabled to explore
and communicate the provocations produced by some projects of browser
art (see chap. VI.3.3). Such an investigation using the provocations of
browser art on the level of the `interface 3´ explores the informations
being hidden by standard browsers, and the accesses to data being prohibited
by these web interfaces (interface 2): Standard browsers convert a data
stream to webpages with a design not unlike printed pages. 6
The data stream is fed from files being stored on several servers located
at different places. These files consist of film, photo, audio and text
formats. The files are put together in a browser presentation of a web
page. After users installed Maciej Wisniewski´ s browser "Netomat"
(see chap. VI.3.3) on a personal computer with one of the operating systems
being used in 1999 and typed in a keyword then they could retrieve simultaneously
text elements as well as audio and film files. The files stored on different
servers were presented in "Netomat" without the functions controlled
by the source code to execute the web page presentation of the usual web
browsers putting together the files to the defined web page lay-out. To
the observers´ advantage a simultaneity of different informations
on a keyword was presented on the screen. The direction of the data stream
on the monitor was influenceable by cursor movements.
An observer of browser art can´t rely on the reacting movements
being trained by himself in using the established webbrowsers: The usual
retrieving of web pages and links is called into question. For observers
the relations between the input on a keyboard, monitor presentations and
the functions controlled by mouse moves appear in a new light.
Wisniewski, Maciej: Netomat, 1999, browser (photo of
the monitor presentation, October 2000).
The ego shooters (see chap. VII.1.3.1) force players to execute trained
coordinations between the perception of the simulated game world and hand
movements as fast as possible on the technical interface (interface 2
with joystick, mouse, keyboard and monitor): On this interface (interface
2) the perception and body coordination (interface 1) is trained by the
player to enable himself to react to the game world simulations with tactical
moves (interface 3) eliminating obstacles with a minimum of delay. The
immersive effect is caused by joystick navigations into the simulated
spatial depth of the game world, the simultaneous concentration on ennemies
coming out of this depth and the executions of the gameplay-trained modes
to react. For the evolution of an `interface 3´ consisting of modes
to operate against ennemies players enable themselves to the execution
of fast moves by coordinating their perceptions of the game world with
their hand operations at the joystick. After several successful actions
realising strategies of the gameplay (`interface 3´) these fast
moves provoke the impression of a speedily continuable movement in and
through the game world.
id Software (Romero, John/Carmack, John/Hall, Tom):
Doom, Cdv Software Entertainment, Pearl Agency, 1993, computer game.
The reduction of the body coordination on the games´ technical
interfaces to hands (for the uses of keyboards, mouses and joysticks)
and eyes (for the perception of monitors) is a consequence of the development
of the standards for technical interfaces (interface 2, see chap. VII.2.1
with ann.1). In opposition to this reduction of the body to hands and
eyes the affordances to the body coordination (interface 1) for the control
of unusual technical interfaces are augmented: Reactive installations
(see chap. V, VII.2.1) and pervasive games (see chap. VII.2) mobilise
several parts, if not the whole body, of a moving observer as a human
acting to move technical interfaces. Artists dissolve the reduction of
human actions to a few body parts by an integration of wider parts of
the `interface 1´ to control unusual `interfaces 2´. With
these works artists enable observers to explore the possibilities to develop
an `interface 3´ in mediating the unusual `interfaces 2´ with
unusual activations of the `interface 1´. So artists transgress
the established technical interfaces. The experimentation with interface
alternatives leads observers to possibilities transferring common recursions
between output and input in new concatenations of computing, thought and
Time´s Up: Sonic Pong, 1999, reactive installation.
After 2000 the increasing "interconnectedness"
of various transmission and communication systems (GPS, mobile telephony,
fixed-line network) with stationary and mobile devices 7
provokes the participants of projects to reconceptualise their reactions
to requirements sometimes simultaneously posed by technical interfaces
and the environment. The `interface 3´, constituted for this purpose
by the participants´ observing operations, includes partially not
easy to fulfill demands to coordinate self localisations and orientations
in environments (interface 1) with the reception of informations indicated
by the screens of mobile terminals (interface 2): In strategies for the
gameplay simultaneous requirements by devices on the one side and environments
on the other side lead to a partition of operations in phases with switches
of the attention (interface 3) between both sides: At times the player
directs his attention from the urban traffic to the screen and vice versa
(see chap. VII.2.2).
Dr. Thomas Dreher
with numerous articles on art history since the sixties, a. o. on Concept Art and Intermedia Art.
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2012 and June 2014 (in German)/ June 2014 (in English).
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1 With "conceptual schemes" and "action
plans": Dreher: Performance 2001, p.22s.,404s.; Dreher: Games 2008,
ann.35. Cf. chap. VII.2.2. back
2 See chap. VII.2.2 with ann.18. back
3 Bardini: Bootstrapping 2000, p.67-80; Rehr: QWERTY
4 Bardini: Bootstrapping 2000, p.79-102,107-114. back
5 Bardini: Bootstrapping 2000, p.103-107, 112ss. back
6 Kahnwald: Netzkunst 2006, p.61-64,75-78. back
7 Dreher: Games 2008, chap. "Interconnectedness"
and Mobile Devices with ann.1. back
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