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CALL FOR PAPERS CARTE SEMIOTICHE, ANNALI 11 - Interfaces. Forms of access and intermediation devices (CFP)

Organization: Carte Semiotiche
Event: CFP
Categories: Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-02-29 Abstract Due: 2024-02-29

Carte Semiotiche is an international interdisciplinary journal of semiotics and image theory dedicated to exploring the production of meaning in visual objects. The journal welcomes and encourages a plurality of points of view on the visuality of cultural objects. In the belief that textual analysis is a crucial tool for the comparison between different disciplinary approaches, Carte Semiotiche favors an orientation towards textuality and the analytical dimension of research. Each annual monographic volume focuses on a specific topic open to different approaches.



Interfaces. Forms of access and intermediation devices

Edited by Valeria Burgio and Valentina Manchia


In an age of ever-shrinking distance between subjects and objects and the development of hybrid forms of interaction between humans and nonhumans (from smart objects to ChatGPT), it seems easy to forget interfaces, understood as all those intermediary devices we need to access content, information, and ultimately to make sense of the world we relate to.

For this reason, it may be useful to approach the pervasiveness of these forms for accessing knowledge from as broad a perspective as possible, at the intersection of semiotics, visual studies, media studies and design studies.

The concept of interface, coined in the mid-19th century in the field of fluid mechanics and defined as much by its ability to separate as by its ability to connect two distinct entities, has since been intercepted and borrowed by cybernetics and information theory, up to the more specific declinations of human-computer interface (HCI) and graphic user interface (GUI).

We propose, here, to think of interfaces as those devices that organize, structure and give access to data and information (Manovich 2001, 2013), configuring themselves at the same time as a “space of action and interaction” (Bonsiepe 1995), “shared context of action” (Laurel 2014) and “area of choice” (Galloway 2012) for a possible user.


This issue of Carte Semiotiche, rather than focusing on the interface as a technological infrastructure, aims to call attention to these forms of access to knowledge, not only in their modes of operation, but in the delicate relationship of mediation they are called upon to entertain with both the content and the receiver of that content. At a time when the workings of technology are becoming increasingly invisible and the acceleration in processing huge amounts of data is becoming unmanageable for a human-only intelligence, the interface becomes a gateway that suggests avenues of research in both the sciences and the humanities. Studying the formal organization, aesthetics and stylistic conventions, discursive registers, rhetorical and communicative strategies of interfaces can be one way to shed light on the particular patterns of the world they embody, and through them deepen our relationship with these mediated forms of communication.

Moreover, calling attention to interfaces as devices of mediation and intermediation can be useful for investigating the relationships they seek to entertain both with users, the ultimate recipients of the knowledge to which such devices give access, and with other objects, according to logics of intersubjectivity and interobjectivity that also bring to light different dynamics between humans and non-humans (Latour 1992; Landowski and Marrone 2002), meaning by non-human not only technological tools but also living forms. Contemporary research studies in art and design, including speculative design, explore new forms of mediation between humans and non-humans in the biomedical (see the relationship with microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses) and environmental fields. Other art practices make visible and take the incorporation of technology to extremes, providing a critical key with which to read our mediated relationship with the world and our own human condition.

Below are some objects of analysis that we hope will open up as many areas for reflection:


·      graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for consulting and manipulating digital data and information (Drucker 2013, Reyes-Garcia 2017), such as in videogames (Modena 2023), in virtual and augmented reality (Corrain and Vannoni 2021; Pinotti 2021), in software interfaces (Corrain-Macauda 2017, Coviello, King 2020), in mobile and wearable devices (Soro, 2023), and more generally in media and postmedia devices (Greenfield 2017, Eugeni 2021);

·      visual interfaces as informational images (Elkins 1999), that is, visual artifacts structured to give access to data and information, such as static and interactive graphs, maps, and diagrams (Tufte 1983, 1990); Quaggiotto 2012; Dahan-Gaida 2023), data visualizations (Manchia 2020) and infographics (Burgio 2021);

·      interfaces for managing and sharing scientific databases (Leonelli 2016) and their mediating role within scalability logics (Manovich 2001; Halpern 2014; Tsing 2012);

·      object and service interfaces, both in relation to issues such as affordance, ergonomics, nudge theory (Norman 1988, 2013; Deni 2002; Motterlini and Perini 2021), and in design (Anceschi 1993; Bianchi, Montanari, Zingale 2010), and product communication (Bucchetti 2005; Ventura Bordenca 2022);

·      “invisible” interfaces in smart objects (Peverini, Perri, Finocchi 2020; Peverini 2021);

·      writing interfaces, as the relationship between media organization and paratextual and supratextual elements (Zinna 2004), and interfaces for accessing structured information, both textual (layout and content organization; Baule 2012) and paratextual (indexes, title pages; Genette 1987);

·      interfaces in biodesign, bioart, and bioarchitecture as intermediation devices between humans, micro-organisms, and the environment (e.g., Tomas Saraceno; Pierre Huyghe; Elizabeth Hénaff);

·      artistic works that revisit the interface critically through such themes as: gestures and choreography in the technological environment (e.g., Julien Prévieux); deconstruction of the apparent transparency of the interface (e.g., Hito Steyerl); technological devices and machinic perspectives (e.g., Harun Farocki; Armin Linke; Forensic Architecture).


Based on these and other objects of analysis, we expect contributions that can develop, in as interdisciplinary a perspective as possible, along the following directions:

–      interactivity and forms of dialogue, contact, collaboration, communication with the user-enunciator;

–      simulation, immersiveness and effects of transparency;

–      access, accessibility and the rhetoric of immediacy;

–      cultural forms and the evolution of forms of access;

–      mediation, agency, and control devices;

–      platforms, interfaces and new regimes of visibility;

–      tangible forms of constructing the relationship between human and non-human.


The editors of Carte Semiotiche invite you to submit proposals for contributions in Italian, English, French or Spanish (max 2000 characters with spaces or 500 words), along with a short biographical profile (max. 10 lines) on or before February 29th 2024 to the following addresses:

valentina.manchia@polimi.it, valeria.burgio@unive.it and cartesemiotiche@semio-cross.it



Abstract length: max. 2000 characters including spaces (about 500 words).

The abstract should include indications of a minimum reference bibliography.

Article length: max. 40,000 characters including spaces (about 8000 words)

Images: b/w in body text and color in separate file (jpeg, png, resolution at least 1500 pixels in the major side)

Abstract submission deadline: February 29, 2024

Date of communication acceptance of proposals: March 10th, 2024

Deadline for delivery of selected contributions: May 30, 2024

End of review process: July 15, 2024

Expected release date of the volume: Autumn 2024


Short Bibliography

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2021    Rumore visivo. Semiotica e critica dell’infografica, Milano, Mimesis.


Corrain, Lucia & Macauda, Anita

2017     “Google Art Project e i percorsi dello sguardo”, in Del Marco, Vincenza, Pezzini, Isabella, a cura di, Nella rete di Google. Pratiche, strategie e dispositivi del motore di ricerca che ha cambiato la nostra vita, Milano, FrancoAngeli: 57-87.


Corrain, Lucia & Vannoni, Mirco (a cura di)

2021    Figure dell’immersività. Carte Semiotiche - Annali 7, Firenze, La Casa Usher.


Coviello, Massimiliano & Re, Valentina

2020     “Watch more”. Strategies of enunciation in the video-on-demand platforms, in E|C Rivista dell’Associazione Italiana di Studi Semiotici, 30, a cura di, Addis, Maria Cristina, Jacoviello, Stefano: 176-189. https://mimesisjournals.com/ojs/index.php/ec/article/view/758.

Dahan-Gaida, Laurence

2023    L’art du diagramme: Sciences, littérature, arts, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes.


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Drucker, Johanna

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Galloway, Alexander R.

2012    The interface effect, Cambridge, Polity Press.


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Halpern, Orit

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2014    Computers as theatre (2. ed), Boston, Addison-Wesley.


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2016    Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.


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2020    Il discorso dei dati. Note semiotiche sulla visualizzazione delle informazioni, Milano, FrancoAngeli.


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2013    Software Takes Command, New York-London, Bloomsbury.


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Modena, Elisabetta

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Motterlini, Matteo & Perini, Matteo

2021     “Nudge come affordance: alla ricerca delle basi neurofunzionali”, Sistemi intelligenti, Rivista quadrimestrale di scienze cognitive e di intelligenza artificiale, 2: 223-241, doi: 10.1422/98353.


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2021    “Smart Objects as Social Actors Towards a New Society of Objects between Semiotics and Actor Network Theory”, Versus, 2: 285-298.


Peverini, Paolo, Perri, Antonio & Finocchi, Riccardo

2020     “Smart objects in daily life: Tackling the rise of new life forms in a semiotic perspective”, Semiotica, 236-237: 141-166.


Pinotti, Andrea

2021    Alla soglia dell’immagine. Da Narciso alla realtà virtuale, Torino, Einaudi.


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Reyes-Garcia, Everardo

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Soro, Elsa

2023     “Fit different! An exploration of Apple Fitness+ Artificial Affects Machine”. In Semiotica e Intelligenza Artificiale (Santangelo, Antonio & Leone, Massimo, a cura di), Roma, Aracne.


Tsing Anna Lowenhaupt

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Tufte, Edward R.

1983    The visual display of quantitative information, Cheshire, Conn., Graphics Press.


Ventura Bordenca, Ilaria

2022    Food Packaging. Narrazioni semiotiche e branding alimentare, Milano, FrancoAngeli.


Zinna, Alessandro

2004    Le interfacce degli oggetti di scrittura. Teoria del linguaggio e ipertesti, Roma, Meltemi.





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