What Things and Signs can do for Me

Affordance and Using, Resistance and Creating

A sign is not a thing. A sign is a relation. We don't find signs out there in the world. We encounter them only as we are making and using them. Why do I bother you with such, dear reader? Because signs have become more prominent than things when we relate to all the world out there. From this assertion it becomes interesting to ask what sense it makes, if any, to hope for help and for convenience by signs that offer us affordances or that afford to us what we must do in order to make sense out of, and with, signs.

The presentation will remind us of affordance in J.J. Gibson, of the introduction of affordance into HCI by D. Norman, of the concept of sign in Ch.S. Peirce, of software as sign, and of the algorithmic sign. And that's enough for then we study cases: examples from design and from the arts, and it will towards the end allow a bit of dreaming how marvellous the days once were when you, in making art, were hoping for resistance by your material, and got it.


A note about the speaker

Throughout his life, Frieder Nake has tried to avoid positions of power. As a university professor he is supposed to exert power against others. He tries to minimize that. Teaching is trusting, not squeezing. He has studied mathematics which was great, but he loves writing which is hard. He studied under Max Bense and only later understood. He found himself in doing something that others were willing to call art which he loves. He is a war-resistor and deeply impressed by Karl Marx. Mathematics, semiotics, computing, aesthetics, and art are his fields; critique and dialectics are his methods.