Interactivity and Art II

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Reconsidering media art dynamics by Nell Tenhaaf, Kim Sawchuk, and Melanie Baljko/ The Bang Theory: the breaking and (sort of) fixing of everyday objects by Luiza Prado de Oliveira Martins/ Stichitures by Claudia Rebola, Patricio Vela, Chauncey A Saurus, Tayo Ogunmakin, and Jorge Palacio/ Nibia and the ludic component by Tomás Laurenzo/ Bodies, Interactivity and Technicity in Media Art by Andreia Machado Oliveira
Sunday, 18 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:25
Chair Person: 
Nermin Saybasili
Nell Tenhaaf
Luiza Martins
Claudia Rebola
Patricio Vela
Chauncey Saurus
Tayo Ogunmakin
Jorge Palacio
Tomas Laurenzo
Andreia Oliveira

Reconsidering media art dynamics

by Nell Tenhaaf, Kim Sawchuk, and Melanie Baljko

What level of audience instruction is appropriate for the exhibition of a research-based media art project, and how can those instructions be presented? This is one of two issues that I will discuss based on exhibiting my interactive sculpture Push/Pull for the first time [in Ottawa Canada, November 2010 to January 2011]. This work is the outcome of a multi-year research project that included several user-tested prototypes and a team of people working on the project. Push/Pull is programmed in such a way that layers of agencies or “voices” are presented to participants – from the agency of the system itself to abstract entities composed of a few lights. We imagined that the part of the interaction overtly based on gaming would be most accessible to viewers, but the opposite turned out to be true: they are reluctant to shift from perceiving light and sound as a play of abstraction to perceiving autonomous agents that are composed from the same elements. The question becomes how, or whether, to give instructions in the non-instruction environment of the art gallery. See, where videos are under Key Concepts –> Push/Pull.

 Secondly, what does the media artist most effectively do with user experience data? We are interested in contributing to guidelines for artists to develop user experience documentation. Preservation of new media artworks, media art histories and archives, and public understanding of these works are all bound up together in the concept of “user experience” and “usability studies” – for example in the work of The Variable Media Network and the Capturing Unstable Media project. There is space made in these structures for experiential documentation gathered by the media artist her or himself, but not yet methods for analysing the significance of this aspect of documentation or addressing how it can feed back into productions. Is it to be treated as an interpretation outside of the experiential dynamic of the work, or can it be brought into that dynamic? Instructions and experience reports seem to both be elements outside of exhibiting a media artwork that might be more intrinsically part of it.

The Bang Theory: the breaking and (sort of) fixing of everyday objects

by Luiza Prado de Oliveira Martins

This paper aims to discuss how faulty, ill-designed and semi-broken objects might be analyzed as to their potential to stimulate the development of new, personal and unique ways to interact with technology. By exposing the inner workings behind interfaces of common artifacts, a malfunction might allow the exploration of individualized, performative responses and interactions from individuals. The starting point was the creation of a small series of faulty electronic devices by slightly modifying iconic household items. These objects were then presented to unknowing subjects in order to observe each individual’s responses and reactions. Taking these small experiments as a base, the paper goes on to discuss the relevance of such observations in a society increasingly dominated by and dependent of invisible, ubiquitous technology.


by Claudia Rebola, Patricio Vela, Chauncey A Saurus, Tayo Ogunmakin, and Jorge Palacio

Stichitures is an interactive installation that creates an environment which proliferates communication through the meeting of design and technology. This dynamic piece encourages people to interact with it, which causes the art piece to evolve. However, the evolution of the piece depends on the interaction of multiple individuals; a single individual will only have a temporary effect on the piece. The co-dependence on others inspires communication between individuals, which builds to create a greater sense of connection on a human level . The atmosphere of a reactive and collaborative art piece magnifies the shared experience. To encourage interaction, the piece consists of a series of overlapping three dimensional patterns which use sensors to read the relationship of observers with the installation and each other. Reactions to observer proximity, which appear as interspersed light emanating from the structure, differ depending on the type and amount of interaction taking place. The observer dependent response encourages people to communicate and explore possible visual outputs from the art piece. The installation is then used to observe and collect data related to the effects of design and technology on human interaction. The paper will be on the data collected from an installation occurring early 2011 and the conclusions which can be drawn from such data.

Nibia and the ludic component

by Tomás Laurenzo

Nibia Sabalsagaray (1949 - 1974) was a twenty-four years old Uruguayan literature teacher and social activist, tortured and killed in captivity at the beginning of the last military dictatorship (1973-1985) in Uruguay.

Although the Military Justice categorized this crime as a suicide by hanging, in November 8, 2010, two military (Dalmao and Chialanza) were indicted as responsible for the murder. As of January 2011, both military are in the process of appealing the sentence.

In this paper we are presenting an interactive installation that questions the relationship between (Uruguayan) society and the recent past, through recontextualization and redefinitions of a particular, locally well-known, image.

The work consists of a small room, dark, with black walls, with only one entrance, blinded by double black curtains.

Hanging towards the end of the room, there is a projection of the locally very known picture of Sabalsagaray, in black and white. Two meters ahead of the projection, there is a wooden stool with a standard lighter on top of it.

If the user decides to take the lighter and lights it, the picture in the area corresponding to the position of the lighter begins to burn, disappearing, becoming black.

But it is impossible to burn it completely: a short time after a zone is burnt, it is reconstructed, allowing the image to reappear, which never fades completely.

The relationship between the spectator and the image is drastically resignified, by making explicit the underlying interaction between the graphic representation and its consumption.

By allowing to try to burn the image, it is not only said that there are always people who burn it (and in a way –perhaps distant– we all are), but also that the perception of any cultural phenomenon cannot be apolitical.

This installation, in spite of being explicitly interactive and engaging for its users, it is not perceived as a video game of sorts, but instead induces to the reflection and awe.

We propose that this occurs thanks to a combination of factors: the density of the message, the natural interaction, and the aesthetic setup.

Bodies, Interactivity and Technicity in Media Art

by Andreia Machado Oliveira

This paper addresses the degrees of interactivity produced with and within an artwork. The act of experiencing an artwork shows that any experience is made up of relations of intensity within processes of interactivity between bodies and milieus. It is maintained that there are various degrees of interactivity in experience: mixtures, attractions, incorporations, embodiments and perceptions. Mixtures are the voluntary and involuntary affects between bodies in associated milieus. The understanding of mixtures of bodies is related to various philosophical conceptions of immanence. Attractions speak of an animal art that shows us the potential of the milieu and the affects of bodies. The body referred to includes not only the human but non-human others as well—animal, technological, immaterial—formed by the speed or slowness of matter-taking-form. Such bodies embody life through technics and technicities which do not dissociate the natural and the artificial, the analog and the digital, matter and form. The (mis)perceptions produces an ephemeral landscapeness within the meta-stable system constituted by the artwork-human-milieu. These ideas are based on the philosophical writings of Baruch Spinoza, Gilbert Simondon and Gilles Deleuze and are applied to the field of interactive art in order to understand that artworks are created and modified through the artist/spectator/artwork/milieu experience. Interactive artworks are fundamentally relational, they break down the frame and require participation. By being an art of action, interactive art can instantly produce action-reactions, or the action can be the effectiveness of the techno-aesthetic operation of the artwork itself as performed by the spectators, in other words, an artwork keeps its operation open in order to allow the spectator to access its implicit forms. Therefore, the questions become: what is possible (or not) within this construction of bodies and milieus in interactive art? Where is the ethical limit which guides such productions? How much can a body endure within the proposed relations? Thus, interactive processes are driven by an Ethics of the potential of bodies to act, which is to say, by what a body can do in its intensity in the dynamics of degrees of interactivity in the experience of the artwork in media art.