The Esoteric Interface

John Dee's scrying mirror

Even though being esoteric is not what David is attempting to do, I think, in designing the Soul Lines interface, the way he has made an interface that does not reveal itself all at once makes me think about describing such an interface as ‘esoteric’.

The term ‘esoteric interface’ arose for me when thinking about the resonance between what David has designed for the Android screen and the obsidian scrying mirror of Dr Dee, now in the British Museum.

What I value about this is the idea that an app that is an artwork rather than a utility might have to work slightly differently, and make this difference in its interface. This is a pretty bold move and testament to David’s commitment to the ideas behind the project which he has been enormously sensitive to.

What David has done for Soul Lines requires some level of commitment from the user to get beyond the frustration of not immediately knowing what to do. I think this is entirely appropriate for an app that deals with slowness and a sense of a walking ‘soul’; the transcendent, numinous or spiritual: these things should not reveal themselves too quickly.

Let’s see if the beta testers agree.

(You can also read this post on the Near Now Journal site)

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