Interactivity beyond Technology – Art beyond Institutions.
I attended the CAS (Computer Arts Society) lecture at Birkbeck with Dr. Brigitta Zics. This presentation had to do with the history of Interactivity in Art & technology.
Interactive art represents a radical phase-shift in western esthetics. Artists are confronting unexplored territory: the esthetics of machine mediated interactivity. Designing the interactive experience adds an entire dimension to the esthetic endevour, one without precedent in the visual and plastic arts. In the west, the visual arts have no tradition of an esthetics of interactivity. Penny, 1996 available from http://ace.uci.edu/penny/texts/atod.html
It’s narrative starts with the separation between 1-Artistic modality of interaction (participatory Art) and 2- Technological modality of Interactivity (history of Human Computer Interaction). Thus defining its emergence this way suggests the tendency to separate Art and Technology and what is proposed is to focus on the major qualities of interactivity in order to provide a fuller historical account of it. Consider :
+Motion +Connection +Participation +Experience +Science
This approach to interaction incorporates the cognitive processes of the participant through an aesthetic interconnection between technological effect and affective human response. The discussion of the artworks seeks to demonstrate how this aesthetic interconnection creates a novel approach to an engagement with interaction, while suggesting a new forum for addressing the philosophical problem of the relationship between body and mind. This aesthetic interconnection between technology and human cognition, which will be referred to as affective aesthetics, is stimulated by introducing a novel application of emerging technologies that dynamically effect and evaluate the participant’s affective responses through cognitive feedback loops within interactive artworks. Zics, 2010, available from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/LEON_a_00090?journalCode=leon
The separation between Art and technology problematizes the lack of meaning in Interactive Art and how it has so far failed to produce an aesthetic continuum. What is proposed by Zics is a cognition based approach to interactivity , an immaterial engagement with technology where cognition and technology interwine – Aestheticisation of Cognition- . To start that process some definitions have to be clarified:
Art&Technology -TOOL – Using technologies in “making art”process – Using technology in its functional qualities
Interactive Art –MEDIUM – Applying technologies in “experiencing art”process – Applying technology for innovation and aesthetics
tool and medium is interactive
Further more this splitting between the creative technologies and Interactive art exposes many of the current tendencies , in particular Opensource communities and the need to address them and to recognize in them some sort of place in this dialogue. The creative technologies use technology as innovation, they react are driven by emerging trends. They are the inventors.
Interactive art uses technology as way to produce meaning : where creation is the process whereby the participant through her interaction with the system and its content acquires novel meaning. These inventors are artists as well and follow an aesthetic trajectory.
This critical approach towards technology related practice opens questions about the future. Where does Interactive art lie beyond institutions , festival and conferences ? What has been developed by these online communities? Is there where interactive art will be? It might be a case of forging their own space, as Simon Penny suggests:
As cinema emerged as a technology and an esthetic, it also built its institution its cultural niche. Cinema did not find its home in the museum. It built another institution, where the notion of the `original’ was absurd. (No one asks if the particular print of the film you’re watching is an `original or a copy’.) In the same way, interactive art will forge its own cultural niche. Is the web the environment where Interactive art will settle? Only time will tell. Penny, S. 1996 available from http://ace.uci.edu/penny/texts/atod.html
The issues that have surrounded interactive art and its position have to do with :
Display and distribution: expensive; mystification of technological qualities (people in institutions are not trained for this kind of technicalities; the artist normally struggles to provide for clear easy to follow instructions because the nature of the project is itself complex otherwise it wouldn’t be relevant).
Accessibility of the spectator’s aesthetic experience: how can we document that experience? It is definitely something much more difficult to sell than something that can be measured and contained.
The issues of Documentation, Archiving and Preservation (technological revision at the exhibition and beyond) are particularly fascinating and because of its recent history, it feels like this subjects art the same time explored and questioned through academic research and at the same time are being dealt with in the art industries.Media Art archives like Gama and Rhizome are certainly good examples of this. As well as ArtTube: New Media Art and Creative Technology Collection.
The need for new approaches in Curation , new strategies that understand these different practices and that acknowledge the changing character of artists and the place of the inventor and what comes from this. A New aesthetic that allows us to recognize new qualities in human experience that go beyond the technological dimension into new forms of experience and artistic practice.
Zics, B. (february 2010) Toward an Affective Aesthetics: Cognitive-Driven Interaction in the Affective Environment of the Mind Cupola, Vol. 44, No. 1, Pages 30-37, Posted Online January 26, 2011.©2011
Collection of documents published by E.A.T (Experiments in Art and Technology)
Penny, S. ,April 1996, From A to D and back again:The emerging aesthetics of Interactive Art, Leonardo Electronic Almanac and NextWave catalog, online from http://ace.uci.edu/penny/texts/atod.html