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Tactics of Interfacing: Encoding Affect in Art and Technology (Leonardo)

Tactics of Interfacing: Encoding Affect in Art and Technology (Leonardo)

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Publication Date: August 11th, 2020
The MIT Press
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How digital technologies affect the way we conceive of the self and its relation to the world, considered through the lens of media art practices.

In Tactics of Interfacing, Ksenia Fedorova explores how digital technologies affect the way we conceive of the self and its relation to the world. With the advent of ubiquitous computing, the self becomes an object of technological application, increasingly defined by data received from tracking technologies. Subtly, these technologies encourage versions of ourselves that are easier to interpret computationally. Fedorova views these shifts in self-perception through the lens of contemporary media art practices, examining a range of artistic tactics that enable embodied and intimate experiences of machinic operations on our lives.

At the center of Fedorova's analysis are the mechanisms that structure the relations between the self and the world at the level of the interface; she considers “interfacing” a process in which interrelation happens and different agencies play off against each other. She discusses such topics as interfaciality and the face as a medium; self-image and the boundaries of the self, understood through technological mediation of an embodied experience; the relation between the self and the other, reshaped by algorithmic technologies; and the augmentation and alteration of spatial perception.

The artworks Fedorova discusses present scenarios of interfacing that range from responsive environments to artificial intelligence conversational agents. She shows that art and aesthetic experience offer fruitful ways to reflect on the effects of contemporary technological culture, enabling encounters that shift our perspectives on the boundaries of the self and challenge the very capacity to feel human.

About the Author

Ksenia Fedorova is Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Art and Visual History at Humboldt University in Berlin and a Research Associate at the Ural Federal University.

Praise for Tactics of Interfacing: Encoding Affect in Art and Technology (Leonardo)

“Ksenia Fedorova is not going to bore you with the latest approach to UXI. From secretly human AI assistants to videos of faces manipulated by computer-controlled electrodes, the artworks analyzed in Fedorova’s terrific book reveal interfacing to be an active intersubjective mode between us and our cyborgian devices, with results that are affective as well as aesthetic.”
—Caroline A. Jones, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT; author of Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere (2021)
“In an age when our faces, voices, emotions and bodies are increasingly being interpreted by computational systems, Ksenia Fedorova’s Tactics of Interfacing sharply analyzes how artistic practices with these very technologies can open up new and expressive ways of reconceiving the boundaries between humans and machines.”
—Chris Salter, Artist, Professor of Computation Arts, Concordia University and Co-Director, Hexagram
“Ksenia Fedorova offers profound insights into the fluidity and hybridity of affective, embodied human experience and suggests strategies for harnessing subjectivity and intersubjectivity as forms of resistance to algorithmic objectification. Tactics of Interfacing will be vital reading for scholars in the arts, cultural studies, and STS.”
—Edward Shanken, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of Art and Electronic Media