The interface portrait is an exploration of the possibility of interactive portraiture but it is also a comment on the faceness or facelessness of interfaces. Interacting with this portrait brings out the traits of a simulated character, which, through simulation, represent aspects of a personality. It’s an interface, so traditionally a control system or a tool, but because this is a face, a human face, it resists control and defies its own tool-ness. Bringing out this personality is not a matter of clicking a button or flipping a switch, making a selection from a drop down menu or some other sort of well circumscribed choice. Although the interface portrait does respond also on the level of immediate pay-off, its response is not predictable on that level. The same action by the interactor will be reciprocated differently under different circumstances. These circumstances are created not by any specific choice or decision of the interactor, but by the interactor’s interaction style and the affective tone it expresses.

Every interactor, spending normally 2-3 minutes with the work, would get to see a slightly different portrait. And these differences are not a matter of chance, but an appropriate reflection of the interactor’s style. An interactor keen on exhausting all the options will get a different personality from the one elicited by an interactor trying to strike an affective dialogue. Trying to annoy the face will bring out a different personality altogether. Thus, as in human interaction, it is never a single act, and never only its explicit content that determine the response of our others, but our entire make-up, our history and our unintended consequences.

Interfaces are a place where human action is structured - abstracted, isolated, constrained, formalised, aestheticised. This structuring inevitably carries political implications. The author of the interaction is exerting power over the interactor's action. It is therefore essential, if the work is to be honest, that it structures interactor activity in a manner that does call attention to itself, a manner which promotes reflection. The interaction model of Interface Portrait tries to go in this direction. Its logic is not immediately evident. Its grammar only yields to some investment – although not too much so it doesn’t become opaque. It's based on a probable language of gestures which may perhaps be unconventional but is not completely unfamiliar. But it takes time - a minute or so, at least - and some persistence to get past the exploration of an interface’s possibilities to the exploration of the logic that guides those possibilities. It is a matter of taste, a style preference, but there's also a political intention behind this decision. Control and choice structure each other to constrain the scope of human action more and more. I am suspicious of these false choices. I don’t want this false control. I want to engage and be surprised, challenged, work my way through.

Interactions are complex, certainly human interactions, and they are not predictable. Therein lies part of their beauty. We don’t have a clear idea of what our choices really are. They don’t appear on a drop-down menu. The interface portrait tries something else - it tries to afford a communicative mode of interaction, to diminish the habituality of control. It doesn't afford choices, certainly not binary ones. Instead, it affords a few expressive gestures, carrying not the force of reasoning, problem solving and decision making, but that of emotion. And it places every such gesture in the context of those that preceded it. The interactor's previous actions are remembered, patterns are discerned and a model of the interactor's attitude is created. The reaction of the character thus always builds on a constantly reconfigured model of the interactor, making every reaction a response to a historicised amalgam of expressive gestures. The Interface Portrait has formed an opinion, a bias, and an attitude of its own. It has its own agency. It isn't there to be controlled - it's there to be engaged with in an intimate dialogue. And it rewards persistent interactors with a reflection, emotionally and procedurally mediated, upon their behavioural patterns and their consequences.