Tag Archives: interactivity

McCullough, M. (2006). On the Urbanism of Locative Media [Media and the City]. _Places_, 18(2).

Malcolm McCullough, M.Arch from UCLA, is Associate Professor, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. He researches digital media for the built environment. His best-known book is Abstracting Craft (1996), a philosophical inquiry into work practices.

In this article, McCullough praises locative media: “Would be flâneurs are now streaming their dérives. The urban media experience is now interactive; comprising not just the broadcast push but walker’s own messages, maps, tags. Locative media is “the newer paradigm of ubiquitous computing [that] brings thing back to the messy multiplicity of street level” (26).

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Burnett, R. (2007). Projecting Minds. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Ron Burnett, author of Culture of Vision: Images, Media, and the Imaginary (1995) and How Images Think (2005), is the President of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and former Director of the Graduate Program in Communications at McGill University. He’s authored over 150 published articles and book chapters and was named Educator of the Wyar by the Canadian New Media Association in 2005. In 2010, the French government honored him with an Order of France: Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“Interactivity then cannot be predicated on or predicted by the design of the game or any medium. The challenge . . . is not to make too many assumptions about the behaviors of players or viewers” (310).

Here Burnett unpacks the history of the “‘fabrication’ of audiences” (312) and proposes that photography and film factor heavily in this movement. In comparing photography and cinema, Burnett outlines several reasons media art processes and the art itself offer much to planning.

Re documentation, Jean Luc Godard often complained about photography and cinema’s close relationship and deep differences. Photography resists time, documenting single moments. Harking back to Groys, photography conveys the aesthetic, whereas cinema, poetics and the possibility for a life narrative. While the former communicates a lot of information, it cannot stand for the whole of a film.

“Projection allows audiences to visualize the effects of frames in motion” (319).

That immersive experience–and this is key–depends not just on the technological apparatuses “but also on the capacity of the user to fill in the gaps between what is there and what cannot be there” (331). Local knowledge and context matter.

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Kluszczyński, R.W. (2007). From Film to Interactive Art: Transformations in Media Arts. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

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).

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Grau, O. (2007). Remember the Phantasmagoria: Illusion Politics of the Eighteenth Century and its Multimedia Afterlife. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

“Media exerts a general influence on forms of perceiving space, objects, and time, and they are tied inextricably to the evolution of mankind’s sense faculties” (140).

Grau holds that a major problem with cultural policy is the poor understanding regarding audio-visual media’s beginnings. There are two views, utopian (futurist) and dystopian (poststructuralist critical theory), and they are both teleological, and neither seem to recognized the phantasmagoria dates back to the 17th century. In truth, the process of merging the message/image with its medium/apparatus such that the medium’s rendered invisible has a deep history. Grau believes that media technologies have done more than just heighten our sensory perception through telematic processes, as McLuhan suggested, but through virtual ones, as well, and drawn connections “with the psyche, with death, and with artificial life–with the most extreme moments of our existence” (142).

Digital art is changing to become more process-based and with new interactive, telematic, and genetic imaging process parameters. So what’s really new about new media isn’t so new. We continue “to generate illusionism and polysensual immersion” (154) using all contemporary means of art and science available.

Finally, a word about immersion. Grau considers it foundational to media’s development:

“Immersion can be a mentally active process; in the majority of cases . . . immersion is mental absorption initiated for the purpose of triggering a process, a change, a transition. . . . An increase in the power of suggestion appears to be an important, if not the most important, motive force driving the development of new media of illusion” (155).

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Huhtamo, E. (2007). Twin-Touch-Test-Redux: Media Archaeological Approach to Art, Interactivity, and Tactility. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Erkki Huhtamo, media archaeologist, scholar, and curator, is Professor of Media History and Theory at UCLA’s Department of Design | Media Arts. Recent research topics include peep media, the history of the screen, and the archaeology of mobile media.

“The idea of interactivity is intimately linked with touching” (71).

“Haptic vision” refers to the visual touch. Within figurative art, there are two tendencies: imagery at deep distances and texture at close proximity. However, per Deleuze and Guattari (1987) and McLuhan (1964) in this essay and throughout this summer’s other readings, we know we can’t really separate the optic and haptic practices of looking — sensuous experiences inform and interact with each other to create a full “picture.”  The Cartesian dualism is an inappropriate.

The emphasis of this essay explores “the cultural, ideological, and institutional ramifications of touching artworks …. How has touching art been related with acts of touching taking place in other contexts–at work, leisure, and in ritual?” (72). Early museums encouraged their visitors to touch the works, but this practice ceased as notions of private property, access and education, social status altered society’s relationship with objects, supervision, and preservation. At the same time, the newly minted department store stepped in to provide consumers with opportunities to touch the finery.

Also at the same time, the avant-garde railed against these new “tactiloclasms” (the express forbidding of touching art). F.T. Marinetti’s “Manifesto of Tactilism” (1921) articulated the Futurists’ attack on academia and bourgeois culture. It’s possible that Picasso’s and Braque’s use of found things conveyed an interest in the tactile. Duchamp proclaimed that “retinal art” should be “cerebral” instead (78). Huhtamo wonders if Bicycle Wheel (1913) isn’t a “protointeractive work” and considers Duchamp’s and Frederick Kiesler’s Twin-Touch-Test (1943) to be “the most explicit experiment in tactility” (82). Feminist work with the “tactile passive body” (85) foregrounds the relationships between bodies (those of artists and sometimes participants) in happenings, performances, and “body art” of the 60s and 70s.

Some contemporary interactive art is fine with visual/aural feedback and implied tactile replies, but there are those that do give discrete “intimate touch” responses. Examples include Ken Feingold’s The Surprising Spiral (1991), Bernie Lubell’s Cheek to Cheek (1999), MIT Media Lab Tangible Media Group’s inTouch (1997-8), and Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau’s Mobile Feelings I (2001).

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Stiles, K. and Shanken, E. (2011). Missing in Action: Agency and Meaning in Interactive Art. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Kristine Stiles is professor of contemporary art and theory in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University. She’s written Concerning Consequences of Trauma in Art and Society (2010), Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Scheemann and her Circle (2010), and World Art Since 1945 (2011, with Kathy O’Dell).

Edward Shanken is author of Art and Electronic Media (2009) and editor of Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness (2003). His essays are in such journals as Art JournalArt ByteArt Criticism, aminima, Leonardo, and Technoetic Arts. He has a PhD in Art History from Duke and an MBA from Yale.

For Stiles and Shanken, “interactivity” and “agency” are bandied about a great deal in media art, often together, the idea being that in order for interactive art to be meaningful, it must enhance “the fullness of agency” (35). Only many interactive projects can be conventional and problematic. Kaprow eventually abandoned the happening, claiming people weren’t ready culturally to interact responsibly. This is not to his credit, really, because he tacitly collapsed all publics into one, but Stiles and Shanken provide a powerful anecdote with the “Hall Street Happening” (1963). After Cynthia Mailman fell through the garage roof on which she was dancing, audience members did nothing, and so exemplified the limits to interactivity and the aesthetic experience’s requisite cool detachment. The sanctity of art over agency. (But then as I think about this, perhaps that that public’s response. What if she’d performed for a group less informed about contemporary art etiquette? Might she have gotten help immediately?)

Yet the utopian dream for interactivity persists, married with the “rhetoric of novelty” trope in association with new media. Further, per Latour, power structures and prevailing social codes still construct “agency.” Technology is an interesting player here, too, because while technology itself is neutral, its very presence signifies a certain hegemony. In order for their work to be genuinely radical, artists must recognize that prevailing hegemony, and engage in Laclau and Mouffe’s “radical democratic politics” and Hardt and Negri’s “constituent activity,” which subsumes empathy, responsibility, and reciprocity.

“… we suggest agency that sets empathy in motion toward responsible interaction and constructive change is meaningful” (46).

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