In Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency, Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala argue that, contrary to Donald Norman's famous dictum, we do not always want our computers to be invisible "information appliances." They say that a computer does not feel like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner; it feels like a medium that is now taking its place beside other media like printing, film, radio, and television. The computer as medium creates new forms and genres for artists and designers; Bolter and Gromala want to show what digital art has to offer to Web designers, education technologists, graphic artists, interface designers, HCI experts, and, for that matter, anyone interested in the cultural implications of the digital revolution.
In the early 1990s, the World Wide Web began to shift from purely verbal representation to an experience for the user in which form and content were thoroughly integrated. Designers brought their skills and sensibilities to the Web, as well as a belief that a message was communicated through interplay of words and images. Bolter and Gromala argue that invisibility or transparency is only half the story; the goal of digital design is to establish a rhythm between transparency—made possible by mastery of techniques—and reflection—as the medium itself helps us understand our experience of it.
The book examines works of digital art from the Art Gallery at SIGGRAPH. These works, and their inclusion in an important computer conference, show that digital art is relevant to technologists. In fact, digital art can be considered the purest form of experimental design; the examples in this book show that design need not deliver information and then erase itself from our consciousness but can engage us in an interactive experience of form and content.
About the Authors
Jay David Bolter is Wesley Professor of New Media and Director, Center for New Media Research and Education in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Tech University.
Diane Gromala, PhD., is the Canada Research Chair at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
"I recommend this book ... a refreshing experience and source of inspiration.", Gerd Waloszek, SAP Design Guild
"Mirrors and Windows is a thought-provoking, provocative discourse about the nature of technology and society. The essays are certain to raise eyebrows, evoke 'Ahas!', and stimulate further debate about computers, user interfaces, design, art, culture, society, and technology."
—Aaron Marcus, President, Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc., prophet and pioneer of user-interface design
"Cast as a walk through an electronic art gallery at the turn of the millennium in the company of two wise and witty friends of great common sense and uncommon vision, Windows and Mirrors involves its readers in a literally delight-full conversation which sometimes becomes a shared dream of breathtaking new vistas and possibilities. Media studies students in high school or college, professional designers, computer scientists, electronic artists, and a wide general audience alike will want to take this walk, have this conversation, and dream these dreams with Bolter and Gromala."
—Michael Joyce, Vassar College
"In this engaging and accessible tour of contemporary digital art and its historical antecedents, Gromala and Bolter challenge the central dogma of interface design—the transparent window—with the compelling counterimage of the culturally reflective mirror. A graceful and persuasive manifesto that should be read by everyone interested in the future of the digital medium."
—Janet H. Murray, author of Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace