Interaction Design WikiAesthetics of Interaction

Aesthetics of Interaction 2020

Fall 2020

Lecturer: Dr Roman Kirschner 


This seminar proposes to investigate the aesthetics of interaction design by connecting theory and practice. Students will learn how to contextualise their practical projects within current discourses and reflect on how their design practice may transform their theoretical assumptions and knowledge. The students will examine relevant readings and concepts both through discussions and through their practical work. The theory seminar is connected with two studio courses, Soft Architecture and Interactive Visualisation. Related to these courses, each student will write an essay on a topic interweaving and mutually questioning conceptual work and studio practice.

The seminar will explore the aesthetics of interaction including topics such as ecological design, performative experimentation, public interventions, spatial and political design, speculative design, bio design, data literacy, surveillance capitalism and AI. We will address these aesthetics from the perspective of their origins, cultural contexts and case studies.


The class usually takes place on Mondays, from 9.00-10.30, on Zoom. Please pay attention to the schedule as there might be some exceptions. In each session two teams of two students will give a presentation: one based on readings and the other one based on art and design projects. Each presentation is followed by a discussion and/or an in-class assignment. Each student has to write a final essay based on a topic chosen by the student in relation to a class assignment and his/her practical work in the seminar Soft Architecture.


Grades will be based on the oral and written presentations and on class participation. Contributing to constructive group feedback is an essential aspect of class participation. Regular attendance is required.

Readings-based presentation 25% 
Projects-based presentation 25%
Final essay 30%
Class participation 20%


Oral presentations
Students must independently prepare lectures on selected texts from the week. These can be presented in different formats. 
Possible presentation formats are:
Live sketching
Demo with prototyping
Classic Slides presentation

The reading-based presentation should include a 2-pages written discussion, made available to the class and instructor via Paul three days prior to the day of the class to ensure a general discussion.
The paper should include title, author, date, context, summary, bibliography.
Additional sources can be added to inform the discussion if necessary.

The reading-based presentation should include answers to these questions: who are the authors? where do they work? what concepts do they propose? what year was the document published? what was the context at the time of publication? what are other contemporary theorists and practitioners perspectives on the authors proposal? what influence did the proposal have? what was your research process to go over your findings? how can you apply the proposed ideas in your design work or others' design work? how can you challenge the ideas presented? - The presentation should be 15 minutes.

The project-based presentation should include at least 5 projects illustrating each topic, that are gender-balanced, from various countries of origin. Projects can be taken in design, art, ethnography, science and other disciplines. What 'taxonomy' can you provide to categorize the 5+ projects? How these 5+ projects help get a sense of the field that you're presenting? How do they relate to the topic of the week and the readings of that week? - The presentation should be 5 minutes.

Final Essay
The essay is a final 1500-words essay with a diversity of sources and bibliography (classified by genre: book, book chapter, journal article, conference article, academic thesis, newspaper article, web article, etc). 

The topic of the essay is chosen by the student in relation to a class assignment and proposed by Class 7 in half a written page explaining the topic and the questions at stake, and in the form of presentation (2-3min) to the class. The final essay has to be submitted by Monday, December 14.

The paper can be written in English or German.


Readings are made available on Paul per session.

Additional readings can be proposed to underline a particular aspect and should be considered.

CALENDAR overview

Class 1 - 21.9.  -  Introduction

Special Date: 23.9.  -  Microclimates lecture by Prof. Roesler

Class 2 - 5.10.  -  Systems and Bodies

Class 3 - 12.10.  -  Material and Environmental Dynamics

Class 4 - 19.10.  -  Services and Infrastructure

Class 5 - 26.10.  -  Anthropocene

Class 6 - 2.11.  -  Wavescapes

Class 7 - 9.11.  -  Essay preparation

Class 8 - 16.11.  -  Introduction to data and data literacy

Class 9 - 23.11.  -  Artificial Intelligence

Class 10 - 30.11.  -  Data, Democracy and Surveillance Capitalism

Class 11 - 7.12.  -  Essay support

Special Date:  14.12. - Deadline Essay

Personal feedback on your final essays will be given by January 15, 2020.

DESCRIPTION of the TOPICS and texts in the individual CLASSES

Class 1 - 21.9.  - Introduction

Introduction to the course, explanation and organisation of tasks/dates

Guidelines for writing the final essay

Class 2 - 5.10. - Systems and Bodies

a) Burnham, Jack (1969). "Systems and Art". In Arts in Society. 6:2. University of Wisconsin, Summer/Fall 1969. 194-204.
b) Hartmann, Klemmer, Takayama (2006). "How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design". In DIS 2006.

presented by Aathmigan, Gian-Carlo

Project Topics:
- Multisensory experiences, Haptics and Space

- Sensing through scales (micro-meso-macro)

presented by Celina, Alec

Class 3 - 12.10.- Material and Environmental Dynamics

a) Pickering, Andrew (2013). "Being in an environment: a performative perspective". Natures Sciences Sociétés 21. 77-83.
b) Ingold, Tim. (2008). "Bringing Things to Life. Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials".

presented by Alec, Celina

Project Topics:
- Sourcing materials
- Material-Environment Interactions

presented by David, Alessia

Class 4 - 19.10. - Services and Infrastructure

a) Starosielski, Nicole (2012). "Warning: Do Not Dig’: Negotiating the Visibility of Critical Infrastructures." Journal of Visual Culture. 11:1. April 2012. 38–57.
b) Klinenberg, Eric (2018). Palaces for the people. Crown: New York, USA. 184-197.

presented by Alessia, Ramona

Project Topics:
- Speculative service design
- Biological services

presented by Kimon, Sonia

Class 5 - 26.10. - Anthropocene

a) Latour, Bruno (2018). "Das terrestrische Manifest". 21-25 & 35-68.
b)    I) Gombiner, Joel (2011). "Carbon Footprinting the Internet“. In Consilience: "The Journal of Sustainable Development“. Vol. 5. 119-124.
       II) Guardian Environment Network (2017). "‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025“. The Guardian, UK.
       III) Cook, Gary (2017). "Clicking clean: Who is winning the race to build a green internet?". Greenpeace: Washington (D.C.), USA.

presented by Nemo, Andreas

Project Topics:
- Energy low design
- Anthropocene (art & design)

presented by Ramona, Daniela

Class 6 - 2.11. - Wavescapes

a) Hosokawa, Shuhei (1984). "The Walkman Effect". In Popular Music. 4. Performers and Audiences. 165-180.

b) Franinovic, Karmen and Salter, Christopher (2013). "The experience of Sonic Interaction". In Franinovic and Serafin: Sonic Interaction Design. 39-75.

presented by Daniela, Sonia

Project Topics:
- Sound Art/Design
- Device Art

presented by Nemo, Kilian

Class 7 - 9.11. - Essay preparation

Hand in (half a written page) and present (2-3min) your proposal for the final essay (interests, central question, potential, challenges)!

Class 8 - 16.11. - Introduction to data and data literacy

a) Economist (2017). The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. The Economist: New York, NY, USA
b) Barrowman, Nick (2018). Why data is never raw. The New Atlantis, Summer/Fall edition: 129-135.

presented by Nicola, Kilian

Project Topics:
- information art (historical & latest)
- creative tracking

presented by Nicola, Baran

Class 9 - 23.11. - Artificial Intelligence

a) Hassabis, Demis (2019). The Power of Self-Learning Systems. Youtube Video, Institute for Advanced Study, 47:30min.
          (extra task: explain the most important concepts/methods/algorithms in AI featured in this video!)
b) Lovelock, James (2019). Novacene: The coming age of hyperintelligence. MIT Press: Cambridge (MA), USA. 79-120

presented by Mai, David

Project Topics:
- designing with AI
- AI & environment

presented by Mai, Aathmigan

Class 10 - 30.11. - Data, Democracy and Surveillance Capitalism

The Great Hack (2019). Directors: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim, Documentary, 1h54min.

Additional Readings: 
a) Cadwalladr, Carole (2019). The Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the Facebook data scandal. The Guardian, UK.
b) Naughton, John (2019). 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism. The Guardian, UK.  

presented by Baran, Kimon

Project Topics:
- social media interventions/hacks/hoaxes
- citizen activism and digital platforms

presented by Gian-Carlo, Andreas

Class 11 - 7.12.  - Essay support

Ask all your questions, talk about challenges, discuss arguments, build up, formulations etc.