Human Interface Guidelines (Metaphor)


two channel video

In 1987 Apple published the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines – a document summarizing the visual principles behind the MacOS user interface. In a pursuit towards popularizing personal computing throughout the 1980s, Apple embraced metaphor as a core idea in interface design: presenting the user with concepts already familiar from everyday life, as a means towards easing the software learning curve.

The desktop metaphor is one popular instance of metaphor usage in interface design. It models a computer's working area as if it were the user's desk, viewed from above, and recontextualizes objects found in the office (such as files, folders or trash cans) into digital entities.

This two channel video engages with and reverses the skeuomorphism of the desktop metaphor. The default landscape photograph which serves as desktop wallpaper evolves from visual backdrop to full-blown ecosystem, which is being watched (left channel) and watching (right channel) at the same time. Human presence is not directly portrayed, but implied through the design of the scene – the museum-like setting invites the spectator to project their gaze into the landscape. 3-dimensional models of the folder icon serve as the visual liaison between the two spaces, slowly overflowing the scene throughout the course of the video. Original text by Apple, arguing for the use of metaphor in interface design, is shown on the screen, while elements of nature (trees and flowers) rotate in the center of each channel, in reference to the most popular motion graphics gestures in loading screens.