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critical interface design

Shaping us through shaping interfaces

How can we facilitate new ways of interacting through interfaces that encourages new relationships with the environment, nature and each other?

• 4. October - 1. November 2021
• Online!
• Five-weeks, Mondays, 6-8PM CET
• Small class of participants


Pricing (For tickets click here)
Artist / Student (Full Time)
€175*

Freelancer
€195*

Professional
€215*

Generous Supporter Ticket
€255*

Solidarity ticket
Donation (Limited)*

*plus fees (VAT EU ONLY)


course
description

The interface mediates worlds - between the imaginary and the real, the past, future and present, the creator and the user, the artist and the engineer, the human and machine. The interfaces we choose, or so often that are chosen for us, influence how we understand and interact with the world around us and each other. They are a reflection of not only our desires but their creators’ too.

While there are some good reasons, in recent times, many of our interfaces have become increasingly transactional, manipulative, polarising and cookie-cutter. There are often underlying assumptions made by the creators about what is desirable and sometimes unexpected side-effects too. Efficiency, for example, is a key driving force.

But as the environment continues to be ever more threatened and social problems continue, it is obvious that business-as-usual is not working. We need new ways to interact and to explore alternatives for possible interfaces post growth, material extraction and the attention economy.

What roles can new interfaces play to help collaborate, reorganise, share, communicate, regenerate for our communities and the environment? One way to help is to increase the diversity in interface design. Since UX is a contemporary craft of our time, it can become a language for artists to use to converse with the public. So we need more artists in engineering, more engineers in art and more diversity. We need more critical conversations about why we make the technology we make and to explore interfaces for new possible worlds.

This course acts as an alternative introduction to user experience (UX) and interface design, where we use this contemporary craft for culture jamming and speculative making.


course outline

Week 1: Poetically Reconstructing the Interface

This first class is about getting to know each other, our interests and to gain an overview of User Experience (UX) and user interfaces for artistic inquiry and we’ll touch upon the important topic is accessibility when making interactive computer art.

We’ll discuss the interface - exploring what an interface is in its broadest sense and have a go at poetically reconstructing some using CSS, paper and card.

Here we will also start to identify the issues that we may want to question within our own future designs.

Week 2: Co-designing with Nature

Expanding on the traditional persona model, here we will choose the ‘users’ we want to serve with our own design and look at creative means of how we may facilitate co-design with them.

We will learn how to start co-designing through the wider lens of a full human being (emotional, spiritual), also designing with more-than-human stakeholders (planet, animals, future communities).

We look at some useful research methods to help learn about your chosen users and we will do some role-play to simulate scenarios.

Week 3: Alternative Cli-fi Interventions

What is missed when we follow business as usual and what are some alternative modes of operation?

We’ll explore alternative strategies. In contrast to celebrating efficiency and solving defined problems, we will look at how the introduction of ‘inefficiencies’, moments of reflection and questioning can be used to create a positive impact.

We’ll start to illustrate a system we want to affect with our prototype and start to speculate how we might intervene using rapid paper prototyping and digital wireframing

Week 4: Open Source Interface Artefacts

We will work with Penpot to create artefacts for our interventions and introduce p5 as an additional tool. These are open source, freely available tools for prototyping. We will look at why open source is important in designing for the community and the environment and some alternative licensing models (creative commons) for design work.

Week 5: Feedback Loops & Side Effects

When art or engineering is put out into the world, even if the creators have the best intentions, it doesn't always have exactly the expected impact. We’ll explore how we can reduce these side-effects.

We’ll discuss how you can use the concept of feedback as a tool to develop your ideas further.

We will try out some user testing as a tool for improving our designs and gaining insight.

We’ll conclude and discuss where you could take your designs next.


who is this
class for?

For all who are open to following along with the UX process and generating their own unique artefacts, participating in workshops, some role-playing and are interested in learning a contemporary digital creative UX skill-set in a less restrictive context, seperated from potentially damaging business-as-usual practices. For artists who want to use the language of interface to converse with the public and engineers who want to consider how the interface that they provide to their inventions can have an impact.


In this course you will be introduced to (list of skills)

  • Artistic repurposing of the UX/UI process for environmental and social impact
  • You will generate some UX artefacts that can form the basis of a portfolio documenting your design process
  • Designing with more-than-humans (planet, animals, future communities)
  • Co-designing and research with users
  • Designing for inefficiency
  • Systems thinking for artworks
  • Interface reconstruction (using CSS and paper)
  • Digital wireframing and open source interface design with Penpot
  • Interactive prototyping with P5.js


about live classes

Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. For specific questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


about tickets

Tickets for this class are currently available via Eventbrite. If you would like to avoid Eventbrite fees, please email us for direct payment options.


about vat

For tax purposes, we need to include the 19% VAT on top of ticket price for people living within the EU. IF YOU LIVE IN THE EU AND HAVE A VAT NUMBER— IT IS VAT ZERO! WE ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO HAVE AND PROVIDE THIS VAT TAX NUMBER. In order to utilise this feature at checkout, under Registration Type & Tax Receipt Information, select Business (which as a freelancer you technically are), then enter in your USt.ID. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.


about solidarity

We realise we're living in uncertain times. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. These are reserved for women, POC, and LGBTQ+ who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode and we ask you to consider this when making your donation. For more information, see the FAQ page here.

We kindly ask that all pay-what-you-can students register through Eventbrite. Due to reduced staffing, we’re unable to handle specific payment requests for these registrations.


meet the
instructor