The article explores American designer and artist Susan Kare’s digital interfacing archetypes, notably the fonts, icons, and interface elements she designed for the Apple computer Macintosh, which was launched in 1984 and was aimed at a generic user. Kare produced bitmap black and white graphics, following the principle of the desktop metaphor, including the trash can, a pair of scissors for the “cut” command, the dog-eared icon, the Command key symbol, the font Chicago, and the Happy Mac, an anthropomorphized smiling computer that welcomed users at system startup. The article aims to reposition Kare’s work within visual culture, reflecting upon the importance of digital interfacing and the desktop metaphor in what W.J.T. Mitchell has called the “pictorial turn.” References will also be made to Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “global village” and Jean Baudrillard’s postmodernist trope of “hyperreality,” as well as to bottom-up “personal” computer art practices of the 1980s and the rise of prosumer culture. While anticipating a methodology known today as “design system,” Kare’s work had a significant impact in triggering a process of digitalization of the physical world into media space, or else elaborating a scopic system that facilitates new ways of seeing and accessing whatever unfolds behind a computer screen.

The Smiling Computer: Susan Kare’s Digital Interfacing Archetypes

Francesco Spampinato
2022

Abstract

The article explores American designer and artist Susan Kare’s digital interfacing archetypes, notably the fonts, icons, and interface elements she designed for the Apple computer Macintosh, which was launched in 1984 and was aimed at a generic user. Kare produced bitmap black and white graphics, following the principle of the desktop metaphor, including the trash can, a pair of scissors for the “cut” command, the dog-eared icon, the Command key symbol, the font Chicago, and the Happy Mac, an anthropomorphized smiling computer that welcomed users at system startup. The article aims to reposition Kare’s work within visual culture, reflecting upon the importance of digital interfacing and the desktop metaphor in what W.J.T. Mitchell has called the “pictorial turn.” References will also be made to Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “global village” and Jean Baudrillard’s postmodernist trope of “hyperreality,” as well as to bottom-up “personal” computer art practices of the 1980s and the rise of prosumer culture. While anticipating a methodology known today as “design system,” Kare’s work had a significant impact in triggering a process of digitalization of the physical world into media space, or else elaborating a scopic system that facilitates new ways of seeing and accessing whatever unfolds behind a computer screen.
2022
Francesco Spampinato
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/842648
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