The Essence of Interactive Expression
by Morgan Rauscher
Interactive events that occur in a gallery space are performances much like “Integrated Performance Media … computer mediated theater art”3 and the actors are both human and computer. The human performer’s role is to interact with the computer and at the same time witness and transcode the performance first hand. If there are any passive observers watching the artists-viewer perform with the computer, they too become a part of the audience but they do not control the way that the interactive experience unfolds. Passive viewers are therefore not artist-viewers, but rather, passive witnesses to the performance, and although they are not able to control the event, they are nevertheless conduits for the expression represented by the empathetic experience that they have with the artists-viewer. “What makes art is that it is primarily concerned with the expression or the communication of an emotion”4, or what I am calling the essence of an expression. With classical art, “an inner emotional state is externalized; it is brought into the open and transmitted to viewers, readers and listeners”4. What makes interactive art different is that it can bio-physically and dynamically respond to literally evoke said emotions in the human actor through a series of socially engineered immersive bio-feedback experiences and sensations. Therefore, the emotion being communicated in the artwork is not insinuated or signified, but experienced literally and simultaneously witnessed by the human actor.
Is it possible for the essence of an expression to be passed from the artist-architect (the designer of an interactive experience) to the participating artist-viewer (the performer and consumer of an interactive event) by controlling the elements of the interactive experience? How would the ‘essence of an expression’ be passed from an artist-architect to an artist-viewer within the interactive elements of an artwork? Can the essence of an expression be passed more effectively in an immersive experience, for example, via the use of dynamically interactive bio-feedback loops?
In order to briefly address these questions we must first take a look at the nature of communicating the emotional essence of an expression and some differences between classical artistic expression and modern interactive art.
“In contrast to interactive installations, Dominance transfer is not usually sensed in static art forms. ‘Traditionally the interaction of a viewer with the work of art has been via looking and respectfully appreciating’5 under this, the audience is often positioned as inferior to the work and always physically passive. Whereas, the exclusive intellectual and physical hegemony does not exist in computer-based interactive media art”6.
[ >>>>> FORWARD ]
3 Y. Pisan, The Second Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Yusuf Pisan, 2005.
4 N. Carroll, Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction. Routledge, 1999.
5 J.-J. Her and J. Hamlyn, “Meaningful Engagement: Computer-Based Interactive Media Art in Public Space,” in Arts and Technology, vol. 30, F. Huang and R.-C. Wang, Eds. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2010, pp. 17–24.
6 F. Huang and R.-C. Wang, Arts and Technology: First International Conference, ArtsIT 2009, Yi-Lan, Taiwan, September 24-25, 2009, Revised Selected Papers. Springer, 2010.