The Metainterface

The Metainterface

The Art of Platforms, Cities, and Clouds

By Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Bro Pold

How the interface has moved from the PC into cultural platforms, as seen in a series of works of net art, software art and electronic literature.





How the interface has moved from the PC into cultural platforms, as seen in a series of works of net art, software art and electronic literature.

The computer interface is both omnipresent and invisible, at once embedded in everyday objects and characterized by hidden exchanges of information between objects. The interface has moved from office into culture, with devices, apps, the cloud, and data streams as new cultural platforms. In The Metainterface, Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Bro Pold examine the relationships between art and interfaces, tracing the interface's disruption of everyday cultural practices. They present a new interface paradigm of cloud services, smartphones, and data capture, and examine how particular art forms—including net art, software art, and electronic literature—seek to reflect and explore this paradigm.

Andersen and Pold argue that despite attempts to make the interface disappear into smooth access and smart interaction, it gradually resurfaces; there is a metainterface to the displaced interface. Art can help us see this; the interface can be an important outlet for aesthetic critique. Andersen and Pold describe the “semantic capitalism” of a metainterface industry that captures user behavior; the metainterface industry's disruption of everyday urban life, changing how the city is read, inhabited, and organized; the ways that the material displacement of the cloud affects the experience of the interface; and the potential of designing with an awareness of the language and grammar of interfaces.


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262037945 248 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 39 b&w photos


  • a fascinating book...This is an erudite piece of scholarship that will make a lasting contribution to interface criticism, and sheds light on an increasingly central aspect of day-to-day life.



  • By extending and renewing approaches to the interface, The Metainterface deftly engages with the proliferation of computational encounters from cities to apps. Andersen and Pold demonstrate how interfaces are infrastructures that constitute distinct grammars of action.

    Jennifer Gabrys

    Professor, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London; Professor and Principal Investigator, European Research Council project

  • The notion of the metainterface and the critical study of interaction in cultural and societal contexts remind us that there are many ways to think about technological futures. Andersen and Pold provide an inspiring and eye-opening introduction to digital art criticism and indicate its significance to interaction design.

    Jonas Löwgren

    Professor of Interaction and Information Design, Linköping University; coauthor of Thoughtful Interaction Design and Collaborative Media

  • Net art, software art, electronic literature: are they minor subcategories? Improvised designations for works and genres that might ascend one day into literary and high art canons? More likely, as Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Bro Pold suggest, our reception media and academic institutions are themselves being transformed even as literary, visual, sonic, and performative arts relocate in databases. Andersen and Pold are not the first to point out the ubiquity of these transformations. But I know of no other scholars who have brought to the fore so many digital artists and such varied examples of artworks that deal with interfaces—the ones that artists design themselves no less than the mainstream commercial interfaces they deflect, and critique.

    Joseph Tabbi

    Professor of English, University of Illinois at Chicago; author of Relocating the Literary