Interactivity, Space, and Public Space

AVATARIUM: An Interactive and Collaborative Public Art Paradox by Ali Enis Yurtsever, Umut Burcu Tasa, and Zerrin Iren Boynudelik/ Identifying Place And Placing Identity In Transnational Transmedia: A Case Study Of Two Convergent Media Projects by julian konczak and David Alamouti/ The Light at the End of the Tunnel: an interactive installation in public space by Selin Ozcelik
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Pat Badani
Âli Yurtsever
Umut Burcu Tasa
Zerrin Iren Boynudelik
Julian Konczak
David Alamouti
Selin Ozcelik

AVATARIUM: An Interactive and Collaborative Public Art Paradox

by Ali Enis Yurtsever, Umut Burcu Tasa, and Zerrin Iren Boynudelik

When art leaves the confines of galleries, exhibition halls or museums –places designated specifically for art itself, and goes out into the public space, almost always an intensely passionate debate arises about how it should be evaluated and criticized. Furthermore, when public art makes extensive use of digital technologies, what is already a fiercely complicated issue becomes even more perplexing. Technology calls for a redefinition of public space to accommodate new media like video screens, and 3-D virtual worlds; it transforms the way the artwork engages with its audience, enabling them to quit the role of passive bystanders, and become active collaborators in producing new meanings for the artwork. Yet, throughout the process, if the artist’s intentions conflict with the values or interests of others who share the same public space, it is then the artist’s responsibility to reconcile such different concerns, and secure the work’s co-existence in that particular site.

“AVATARIUM: A Consumer Paradox” (2008), Paul Sermon’s interactive video installation at City’s Nişantaşı Shopping mall in Istanbul, was an intriguing example of such kind of public art. Through a telematic and live video installation, “AVATARIUM” linked the glamorous City’s Nişantaşı shopping mall with its rickety counterpart, which the artist constructed in Second Life®, allowing the visitors of both malls to coexist and share the same public spaces like passages and sitting areas. Due to its invasive and disruptive digital nature, and its subtle but highly political message that was so deeply interconnected with the essence of its site, Sermon’s work carried a real potential to provoke conflicts with the other stakeholders of the real and virtual spaces it occupied. During the exhibition, some of those potential conflicts did materialize while others did not. We discuss in our paper how the artist and the curator managed such conflicts and disputes, and placing the issue in the larger context of public art, and reiterating the eternal question of where to draw the line between compromise and auto-censorship, we question the accountability and responsibility of the artist when the artwork is taken out to the wilderness of public space, real or virtual.

Identifying Place And Placing Identity In Transnational Transmedia: A Case Study Of Two Convergent Media Projects

by Julian Konczak and David Alamouti

The authors are currently creating two video projects - ANTIGONE and TELENESIA - that explore audience experience, individual and place in differing ways.

ANTIGONE is a collaborative web documentary work that examines the effects of economic and political migration through the eyes of the individual narrative and personal story. This is being developed as a web based project, optimized for iPad, and it looks at how the realpolitik of national boundaries interfaces with the subjective.

Exploring the wider themes of change, loss, identity, and ultimately the meaning and notion of ‘home’, each documentary within the ANTIGONE interface presents a unique, “local” story from different parts of the world. When combined these unique and local stories become a chorus of narratives exploring the nature of migration and the experiences that go along with it.

TELENESIA is an interactive video installation that the audience engages with using an analogue interface of knobs and dials (physical computing) on “sculptural” boxes created from driftwood. Central to the project is the notion of the mythic “non-space” of the island of Telenesia – a place where an archive of “lost media” resides.

The work is situated in a gallery space comprised of computer-generated imagery of a sea horizon cycling through the changes of light through day and night. Amongst flotsam and jetsam strewn across this “island” lie discarded and weathered boxes that the audience can “tune in” to fragments of archive film clips edited to emphasize the textures of scratches, grain and glitch.

Both these works pay careful attention the narrative implications of the choices made around technical delivery and the paper will examine the reasons behind decisions made. The two projects have been in development for the past two years - TELENESIA will be exhibited in a UK gallery in late summer 2011 and ANTIGONE will launched in beta form during the period of ISEA 2011.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: an interactive installation in public space

by Selin Ozcelik

In this paper, I would like to examine  the social function of interactive installations in public space by focusing on a specific multimedia work: 'The Light at the End of the Tunnel’. In addition to this, I want to analyse the potentials in the collaboration of interaction and public space, and to point out dynamic exchanges between them.

‘The Light at the End of the Tunnel’ was a non-commercial multimedia project for the fifth Light Culture festival, LUMINALE 2010, in Frankfurt. During this international festival, artists, designers, architects use the urban space as a canvas for creative illuminations. In this context, the Willy-Brandt-Platz underground station had become a platform to tell a theatrical story with the help of light and interaction.

The experience of passers-by of the place was guided from the entrance points of the station to the ‘interactive stage’. Through the large stairway at the B-level of the station, the passengers became ‘the spectators’ of a digital theater play which was staged by other passers-by. Via motion tracking and moving stage lights, each protagonist was pointed as ‘on stage’ and they were able to enter into dialogues with their fellows. They performed their roles only with the body movements and activated the quotes taken from the plays of Schauspiel Frankfurt as sound and text on LED panel. The result was a ‘quote theatre’ that was generated by people’s movements.

Willy-Brandt-Platz underground station was nothing more than being a functional subterranean transit zone. With the help of digital media, our aim there was to make the passers-by stop for a few minutes during their daily routine and to involve them into a theatrical, public experience. Using this specific example, I want to juxtapose practical and theoretical discourses and focus on the issues such as the levels of ‘publicness’ of a public space, the function of the interactive media in public space and the exchanges between these two realms. In addition to these, my aim in this paper is to highlight the interdisciplinar nature of these fields by introducing the mutual relations between interactive media and public space.