Interaction Design WikiAesthetics of Interaction

Aesthetics of Interaction

Fall 2017

Instructor: Dr Joëlle Bitton 

Guest Lecturer: Roman Kirschner

Office hours: Thursdays 12.30 - 14.00 (by appointment)

Each class session runs from 9.30-12.30. Starting in week 2 and continuing for the rest of the semester, two teams of two-three students will give a presentation in each session: 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.


This seminar proposes to investigate the aesthetics of interaction design and the mediation of technologies in human perceptions of the world. With notions of cultural contexts, historical overviews, and case studies, we’ll discuss the key humanities concepts of representation, action and phenomenology. The students will gain a critical perspective on the tools they use to ensure a stronger appreciation of responsibility and awareness. 

The seminar will refer to the following aesthetic languages:
Generativity, Creative coding, Net Art, Software Art, Performative and live interventions, Public and urban interventions, Game, Virtual and Augmented Realities, Companions and Conversation agents, Speculative and Bio Design, Disruptors. 

We’ll address these aesthetics from the perspective of their origins, legacies and influence on everyday mainstream tools.


From the second week, each course will be structured around two presentations of thirty minutes each and class discussions, with occasionally an additional lecture from the instructor or guest lecturer.

Two sessions will be led within the module 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. Two or more unexcused absences will affect the final grade. Arriving late on more than one occasion will also affect the grade.

Readings-based presentation 20% 

Projects-based presentation 20%

Final essay 30%

Class participation 20% 

Any assignment that remains unfulfilled receives a failing grade. 


Students must independently prepare lectures on selected texts from the week. These can be presented in different formats. 
Possible presentation formats are:

The presentation should include a 3-pages written discussion, made available to the class and instructor by Monday 9am prior to the day of the class to insure 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 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 essay is a final 3000-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 and proposed by Week 7 in the form of a short paragraph (100 words) explaining the topic and the questions at stake, and in the form of presentation (3mn) to the class. The final essay has to be submitted by December 8.

The paper should be written in English.



Readings are made available in the shared IAD server per session.

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


Week 1 - Wednesday, 20.09.17 - Aesthetics

Lecture: Historical overview I - Screens 1994-2007

Discussion around words: phenomenology, ontology, epistemology, gestalt, aesthetics, hermeneutics, experience

Hartmann, Klemmer, Takayama. 2006. How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design. In DIS 2006.

Week 2 - Wednesday, 27.09.17 - Action

Dourish P. 2001. "Being-in-the-World: Embodied lnteraction". In Where the Action is, The Foundations of Embodied lnteraction. MIT Press. 127-144.
Kirsh, Maglio, "On Distinguishing Epistemic from Pragmatic Action" (lntroduction and "Epistemic uses of rotation")

by Aurelian Ammon & Carlo Natter

- Public Space
- Performance

 by Manuel Leuthold &  Ju Young Yi

Week 3 - Wednesday, 04.10.17 - Space

Böhme, Gernot. 2000. "Leibliche Anwesenheit im Raum". In Ästhetik und Kommunikation 108. 67-76.

by Ismael Möri & Jérôme Krusi

- Notions of Space, Atmosphere
- Bodily Presence

by Alessa Gassman & Michael Schönenberger

Week 4 - Monday, 16.10.17 - Instability (Class takes place on Stromboli)

Latour, Bruno. 2000. "Sharing responsibility: Farewell to the sublime". In Reset Modernity! MIT Press. 167-171.
Pickering, Andrew. 2013. "Being in an environment: a performative perspective". Natures Sciences Sociétés 21. 77-83.

by Tobias Dupuch, Shaën Reinhart & Daniel Holler

- Anthropocene
- Agency

by Katharina Durrer & Carlo Natter

Week 5 - Wednesday, 25.10.17 - Systems

Burnham, Jack. 1969. “Systems and Art”. In
Arts in Society. 6:2. University of Wisconsin, Summer/Fall 1969. 194-204.

Ackermann, Edith K. “Programming for the Natives: What is it? What’s In It for the Kids?”. In Child Research Net, Japan. September 28, 2012.

by Adrienn Bodor & Ju Young Yi

- Net Art, Software Art 
- Blockchain

by Daniel Holler & Vinzenz Leutenegger 

Week 6 - Tuesday, 31.10.17 - Matrix (Class takes place in Kunstraum)

Lecture: Historical overview II - Modern Times


Lindtner, Silvia, Bardzell, S. & Bardzel, J. 2016. “Reconstituting the Utopian Vision of Making: HCI After Technosolutionism”. In 
CHI ‘16.

Foucault, Michel, Martin, L. H., Gutman, H., & Hutton, P. H. 1988. Technologies of the self. A seminar with Michel Foucault. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. pp16-39.

by Manuel Leuthold & Michael Schönenberger

- Game & Realities
- Artificial Intelligence

by Tobias Dupuch, Shaën Reinhart & Dyon Ruiter

Week 7 - Thursday, 23.11.17 - Materiality (room change 5T09)

Lecture: Arash Adel, ' Encoding Design'.


Susanne Kuchler. "Technological Materiality Beyond the Dualist Paradigm"  

Hui, Yuk. 2014. “Form and Relation. Materialism on an Uncanny Stage”. In Intellectica. 1:61. 105-121.

by Katharina Durrer & Alessa Gassman 

- Wearables
- Smart City 

by Adrienn Bodor & Ismael Möri 

Essay Proposal Deadline:
On half-page, present the topic area with reference to literature, an abstract of approx. 8-10 sentences, and the rough structure of the essay in key points. You'll present in class your essay proposal in a couple sentences (1mn each).

Week 8 - Wednesday, 29.11.17 - Disruption

Bettelheim, Bruno. 1959. “Joey: A ‘Mechanical Boy,’” in
Scientific American, March 1959, 116–127.

Feynman, Richard F. 1960. “There’s plenty of room at the bottom”. In Engineering and Science Magazine. 23. February 1960. 22–36.

by Vinzenz Leutenegger &  Dyon Ruiter

- Bio Hacking
- Disobedience

by Aurelian Ammon & Jérôme Krusi

Essay Deadline: 8 December 2017 (sent by an email)