Interactive Art Essay

Pages: 12 (3548 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Interactive art is an artistic piece that promotes interaction between the spectator and the artistic work. Spectators influence the piece by movement, body heat, or by direct interaction from standing or walking on it, in it, or around it. One piece of particular interest is David Rozen's 'Wooden Mirror'.

In this paper, we will discuss the history, definition, and influences of interactive art. David Rozen and his piece "Wooden Mirror" will also be discussed.

Definition of Interactive Art

The definition of Interactive art must be truly broken down to get an accurate description of what it means. Interaction is a mutual or copying action or influence. The relationship between the art, artist, surrounding, and audience are important variable in defining art. Three categories are used to categorize art and interaction:

Static: in which the unchanging art object is viewed by a person. There is no interaction between the two that can be observed by someone else, although the viewer may be experiencing personal psychological or emotion reactions. The artwork itself does not respond to its context. This is the familiar ground of art allergies and museum.

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2. Dynamic-Passive: the art object has an internal mechanism that enables it to change or it may be modified by an environmental factor such as temperature, sound or light. The internal mechanism is created by the artist and the scope of the change is entirely predictable. The viewer is a passive observer of this activity performed by the artwork in response to the physical environment.

3. Dynamic-Interactive: The viewer has an active role in influencing the changes in the art object. For example; by walking over a mat that contains sensors attached to light operating in variable sequences, the viewer becomes a participant that influences the process of the work. The work performs differently according to what the person does or says. (Li and Srikanth n.d.)

Essay on Interactive Art Assignment

Two other definitions must be included to fully help people understand the far reaching scope in interactive art on all areas of life and entertainment today. The definitions come from the website, and help clarify the terms in this paper:

1. Interaction: The relation between two or more relatively independent things or systems of change which advance, hinder, limit, or otherwise affect one another.

(Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, 1901)

2. Interactivity has become virtually a magic word for the promotion of new media and the media arts alike. The term refers not only to a certain technology, it also stands for social concepts and visions ranging from grassroots democracy all the way to consumer freedom. This imbues the term with its broad-ranging impact, but also contributes to its dilution. (Kwastek, K.; Boltzman, L.; & Daniels, D., 2008)

The debate rages over just what should be termed as Interactive Art and what should be out in a separate category all its own. "The idea is to contextualize the notions of interaction, interactivity and interactive art from a multidisciplinary perspective, including, sociology, information theory, interface design, game studies, art history and media art history," as reported by Kwastek, K.; Boltzman, L.; & Daniels, D.(2008). The concept of social interactions came into effect in the early 20th century and was originally applied to interactions from the prospect of biological interaction within the human body and such. In the 1950's, it came to include the premise for social, physiological, and technological feedback systems. Human interactions with computers and design on interfaces became prominent with the advent of the digital age.

In expounding on the debate over how to classify the various form of interactive art, (2010) states, "The term "interactive art," for example, embraces a broad spectrum from net-based literature and media performances to interactive installations. While a generalizing description of these works as interactive art alone is obviously restrictive and reduces the value of the term." Interactive art must be viewed from at minimal four different perspectives including: formal, technological, aesthetic, and contextual.

From the formal perspective, "form of art" is a broad term used in the definition or concept of performative character or manifestation of physical art work. (, 2010) "Range of Art," by the same token, refers to art that feels a space or is considered to be stand-alone. Interactive art and its affiliates are lumped into a separate category of their own.

In looking at the field of media art, a technological perspective needs to be approached. The actual operating systems and implemented devices are usually interchangeable and exchangeable. To gain a better understanding and research on the subject of processing or media art, a larger range of terminology will have to be examined in future studies. (, 2010).

The aesthetic perspective examines art that the viewer has an interaction with. It is based more on the action of the viewer than the art itself. (2010) gives this detailed description of this form of interactive art:

We suggest describing whether "the visitor/performer does": observe, explore, activate, control, select, navigate, participate, leave traces, and so on. But there is also another part of the interaction process, originating from the work itself. "The work does": tell or narrate something, document or inform, visualize or sonify; it may be designed to enhance perception or to offer a game, to monitor something or to serve as an instrument, to transform, to collect and store, to process or mediate.

This describes the art that is the main focus of this paper but to fully understand the big picture all forms of "interactive" must be explored.

The final perspective is that of contextual. This is the area for all forms of "art" that try to fall under the category of interactive or like art forms. This forms such as media art, as they name implies, under the same processes as the ones above.

Interactions between the viewer and/or viewers determines the level of the art. Marcel Duchamp (as quoted by Li and Srikanth n.d.) stated in 1957, "All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act." In interactive art, the viewer and the interpretation he gets from the art piece finishes the piece.

History of Interactive Art

The history of interactive art can be traced back to the 1960's with hints of its upcoming conception through reactive environments and participation art form such as Happenings. Myron Krueger started the use of computer-controlled interaction in 1969. Working with Dan Sandin, Jerry Erdman and Richard Veneszky, the Glowflow was created. This creation consists of sensor located in the floor, speakers in the corners of the room, and colored tubes hanging on the walls. When the participant steps on a sensor, a sound or light effect is triggered. Other artists of the time period experimented with similar 'responsive' art pieces.

Another predecessor to Interactive Art, as we know it, is the head-mounted-display development. At the University of Utah, Ivan Sutherland developed a form of the head-mounted-display. Resembling glasses, it contained two monitors that presented images to the wearers' eye; the computer calculates the situation based on head movements and guides the viewer within the images. (Dinkla 1994)

Krueger went on to develop the 'Videoplace' artistic work in 1974 and has been upgrading it since. The participant finds their image on a computer screen and a program changes the appearance of the user on the screen. The user can play with several variations of appearance. Jeffery Shaw, an Australian in Amsterdam, was also inventing interactive installations in 1983 as well as David Rokeby, a Canadian.

Computers put a new spin on the way interactive art is processed or developed. In regards to Digital Media and the technological field, the possibility for multiple people to work on a joint project with each having a separate section he is responsible for is endless. Some artists now feel as if this is becoming more of a science and technology field rather than the true field of art and culture. New artist need less technical training as the computer does the work for them and to a precise scale.

"Electronic art and Internet art are highly interactive. Some art works allow visitors to navigate through a hypertext environment online; some works are altered by textual or visual input from outside; and some allow the spectator to alter the course of a performance as cited by Media-Culture (2005). These works have been defined as environments or installations depending on the geography of the person.

Interactive art relates to less room being used on the computer screen and a higher level of learning or entertainment. Malane Newman (2007) declares, "The definition of interactive art is graphics with defined regions or hot spots that a user interacts with. The interactivity is created via java script and is activated through various mouse behaviors, like on click, mouse in, mouse out, etc." These interactions make it more enjoyable to learn and concentrate… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Interactive Art" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Interactive Art.  (2010, April 16).  Retrieved April 14, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Interactive Art."  16 April 2010.  Web.  14 April 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Interactive Art."  April 16, 2010.  Accessed April 14, 2021.