Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, PhD, is Head of the Electronic Media Department and Professor of cultural media studies at Lodz University. He also teaches theory of art and media art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, and media art at the Academy of Fine Art in Poznan. He publishes on the problematics of the information society, theory of media and communication, cyberculture, and multimedia arts.
“Interactivity in art, understood as a dialogue of sorts, communications between the initiator and the artifact, occurring in real time and mutually influential, is becoming one of the essential features of contemporary culture” (p. 216).
Observing the influx of digital technologies into traditional cinema, Kluszczyński proposes two potential forms of cinema: one where telematics are used to uphold and enhance existing processes, and another obviating convention in favor of interactive cinema. So far, digital communications’ impact/s on cinema have four concrete dimensions: (1) the “unreality effect” (p. 210) of electronic, digital simulations; (2) the distribution of film along multiple technologies; (3) interactive computer technologies that evoke distancing, Brechtian practices; and (4) Internet-enabled participation (e.g. MMOG).
Kluszczyński joins many of the summer’s authors in reminding us that photographic and digital images are different. The former represents its informative reality; the latter, meanwhile, is totally free of parameters. This distinction does not signal the end of film, but virtual reality does allow for “immersivity and telemacity” (213), and so we see film’s technological proliferation.
Each technology has its own ontology. Television is about transmission, cinema about reading, and video, digital media’s closest progenitor, is about intimacy. Video’s liberation is its potential for interaction. Video’s “proto-interactivity” (216) hints at the deeper interactive potentials in computer art. This technological transformation, however, has revealed cyberculture’s two polar tendencies. There are those who want to use interactive art within in the canon of the modern aesthetic paradigm of representation, expression, and the preeminence of the artist. The resultant interactive art is not about communication but rather the intermediary relationship with the software’s creators. At the other end of the spectrum there are artists who believe the work transcends conventional paradigms, and bears with it a necessary rejection of representation. The artist here is a designer of contexts the viewer then shapes.
Following Derrida (1967, 1974), Kluszczynski proposes interactive art tendencies (echoing Couchot, 2007!). In the first, the authorial hand not only makes something “art” but injects it with predetermined meanings, thus dampening opportunities for interactivity. The second tendency frees work from being derivative since it is in the “primary position” (219), emphasis is on structure, therefore “the work of art requires a different type of reception–an ‘active interpretation,’ resembling a game, promoting a transformative activity toward ‘nonfinality,’ ‘nonultimacy'” (ibid).
Interactive art is the ultimate example of the “deconstructive, postmodernist, cybercultural understanding of an artwork and of artistic communication” (220). It is not an a work at all, but open to every individual’s personal interaction and context, enmeshed in a complex, multivalent network of communication processes” (223).