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Journal Articles Trans-Humanities Year : 2016

The Limits of My Interface Are the Limits of My World

Arnaud Regnauld


In the age of digital reproduction, each work is meant to be literally translated onto various interfaces be it through a common structuring language such as XML or emulated, and therefore transcoded, which may affect its instantiation. Code always casts a long shadow on the observer as it cannot be observed in the here and now of its performance. It lines the visible and readable surface of the work while remaining at a distance, withdrawn from the reader’s gaze by an invisible interface meant to mediate it as a system of signs. Hence Donna Haraway’s appeal to the figure of what I will redefine as the oppositional translating cyborg who seizes upon the encoding tools that mark the world to write her own hybrid or creolized version, undermining the metaphysical fantasy of a universal language, interrupting communication by drawing our attention to the “interface effect.” The interface, as a buffer, or a translating device between two informational systems, has become the prevalent paradigm for the delineation of the limits of our world. In other words, rewriting Wittgenstein’s aphorism, one may make the following statement: the limits of my interface are the limits of my world. I will address these questions focusing on the metaphysics of interface and its relationship to natural language, computer code, and prosthetic data bodies in Illya Szilak’s “Internet novel of the future” entitled Reconstructing Mayakovsky (2008), Ben Marcus’s print novel entitled The Flame Alphabet (2012) and a few instances of Giselle Beiguelman’s electronic poetry.
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hal-01469306 , version 1 (16-02-2017)



Arnaud Regnauld. The Limits of My Interface Are the Limits of My World. Trans-Humanities, 2016, 9 (1), pp.63-83. ⟨10.22901/trans.2016.9.1.63⟩. ⟨hal-01469306⟩
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