Event & Render Por Jara Rocha
What are the implications of thinking about interface as event – in the sense that Nigel Thrift (2005) gives the term – rather than place? In this sense, an interface is a contingent, circumstantial element that provides a series of almost environmental features, in which the experiential flows of actants that inhabit it operate contingently. The interface actualises (processes) these flows, in a shorter or longer interval of time, and turns them into performativity. Hence event here is more verb than object. The eventual nature of interfaces is particularly important when they are studied in the specific context of digital culture, which is essentially defined by the relational nature of their actants and the flow of their processes. Process is crucial for explaining this relationality, this becoming-connective of actants in the cyberculture landscape. An event, on the other hand, is a set of material, semiotic, and space-time circumstances that can be studied because the interface has done its job: it has managed the connection of flows, no matter how subtly, turning an experiential flow into a specific performativity, now matter how ephemeral. After operating or co-producing the event, the interface will have “performed”, and the flow will continue, reflected, refracted or diffracted, while the interface works on the following event. It is in this progression that we can engage with its politics; never in stillness, never definitively named.
The key feature of the interface has been found to be the fact that it manages – or enables the management of – the performativity of the actants that come together in it: the management of the performativity of the actants is its agency and, as such, it is in itself an actant, necessary for the interaction that it helps bring about, and at the same time actively involved in it. This implies that the performativity and characteristics of the interface will be as diverse as the assemblages and types of actants that take place and/or are present in it. Performativity here is understood to be that which actualizes the experiential process: if experience is an incessant physical-semantic flow, impossible to apprehend, then performativity is the eventual rendering of this experiential flow. As such, it can only be apprehended in and by the interface in the sense we are discussing here. This rendering can be studied through a series of specific, differentiated relational modes of management. These can include the monitoring of the immediate environment, the generative mediation of previously unimagined and impossible links, the mediation of previously weak links, and the archive (we agree with José Luis Brea that this latter case is special, because it refers to a type of management that was crucial in an earlier cultural paradigm/time and still lingers on at the time of writing).