Interview between I/O/D and Belinda Barnet

(1) Do you think that bringing organs/senses into play such as sound & sense of motion & proprioception bring us into contact with an "outside" in the Deleuzian sense: revolutionary thought via neglected organs?

If you look at how multimedia is being presented as an educational or presentation-making environment one of the ways in which it is being seen as being most effective is in being able to reinforce or gloss text. For instance in an encyclopaedia, you'll have an entry on some animal or whatever. First of all you'll have the text giving factual 'information', then images, sound, video, or animations that enliven that information - reinforce it. These 'other' senses are secondary to what is seen as being the real point of information-delivery to the mind which needs facts impressing upon it. This is even more the case with business presentations. And this point, at which the hierarchy of data forms become apparent, is that at which most discussion of multimedia stops. But like all hierarchies, it is one which can be most cogently analysed from underneath. As well as cultural forms and data types marginalised by the historically Eurocentric fixation on text and image most computer use, let alone of multimedia relies on strange, almost unnoticed conventions and choreographies. The movement of the hand on the mouse and keyboard; the dysfunctional ergonomics of the workstation; the strange twitching choreography of the user - it is from these angles that I/O/D has often developed its work.

(2) Do you think revolutionary thought is even _possible_ in a medium which involves the geometry and technology of state apparatus (i.e.: it is _inside_ the military infotainment mind & inextricably a part of geometry)? We don't believe society will ever be as stable as the Doom Gurus would like. (Neither of course has the 'Digital Society' proved to be as fruitful for their tag-team-mates the Boom Gurus). If we are locked in with the military and with Disney, they are locked in not just with us, but with every other stray will to power... We believe that the computer, like everything else, is composed in conflict. Somewhere between the construction of the data-mines and the desire for the abolition of work which is embedded in the machines is where we are now - but these are not the only possibilities. Geometry is not just the discipline of quantification, but also the art of tricking new spaces into being.

(3) It's been suggested that such explorations are not commercially viable (& thus doomed to failure), as our culture is fixated with clarity, brevity and ease of access to information. Do you think it is important to keep pushing this envelope? Because the distribution takes care of itself - I/O/D is distributed free over the internet at http://www.pHreak.co.uk/i_o_d/ we don't have to worry about commercial viability. The context that I/O/D is used in is that of the desktop computer, of operating systems and of other software and interactive media. This is already different from the kind of big-name artwork or of advertising where the user is required merely to follow the routine: see; decode; get the punchline. Within software and interactive media there is a tension between the even universal development of metaphors, systems and devices and the commercial need for companies to publish software that is at best 'less-similar' than that of their competitors. The user expects that on a regular basis they will have to learn to use once familiar software in a new way and to 'upgrade' their integration within the metaphor. This familiar expectation is exploited by I/O/D by re-evoking the eager bewilderment experienced by first-time users of systems. It is in this renewal of dialogue between the user, the machine (and the wider conceptual and material apparatus that they are connected to) that things are opened up.

(4) I've found that your interfaces seem to allow for a degree of desire in relation to the unfolding...an element of randomness/play which has been associated with revolutionary thought. do you think that such explorations allow for a translation between the techno-machinic and organic-machinic (i.e.: human/machine) more so than the point'n'click trip? It's the difference between something that has a fixed grammar on the one hand and something that is continually and openly inventing its own logic on the other. Neither is necessarily exclusive to either the organic or the technological. The normal noun-verb based point'n'click interface obscures the possibilities for the development of more complex arrangements of feedback between the user and the machine. This behaviour is essentially Behaviourist - that of a dog who pushes a button and gets a result. This relationship is clear. But its easy clarity also encourages those working as cutting edge multimedia artists stroke entrepreneurs to just invert expectations and produce another genre-bustingly flatulent punchline. We have had enough of incoherence and deconstruction.

September 1997