Interactive art

Music Room (1983), Jean-Robert Sedano and Solveig de Ory Montpellier (France)[1]
The Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995), Maurice Benayoun, Virtual Reality Interactive Installation : a link between Paris and Montreal
Maurizio Bolognini, Collective Intelligence Machines series (CIMs, from 2000): interactive installations using the mobile phone network and participation technologies taken from e-democracy.[2]

Interactive art is a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose. Some interactive art installations achieve this by letting the observer or visitor "walk" in, on, and around them; some others ask the artist or the spectators to become part of the artwork.[3]

Works of this kind of art frequently feature computers, interfaces and sometimes sensors to respond to motion, heat, meteorological changes or other types of input their makers programmed them to respond to. Most examples of virtual Internet art and electronic art are highly interactive. Sometimes, visitors are able to navigate through a hypertext environment; some works accept textual or visual input from outside; sometimes an audience can influence the course of a performance or can even participate in it. Some other interactive artworks are considered as immersive as the quality of interaction involve all the spectrum of surrounding stimuli. Virtual reality environments like works by Maurice Benayoun and Jeffrey Shaw are highly interactive as the work the spectators – Maurice Benayoun call them "visitors", Miroslaw Rogala calls them (v)users, Char Davies "immersants" – interact with take all their fields of perception.

Though some of the earliest examples of interactive art have been dated back to the 1920s, most digital art didn’t make its official entry into the world of art until the late 1990s.[4] Since this debut, countless museums and venues have been increasingly accommodating digital and interactive art into their productions. This budding genre of art is continuing to grow and evolve in a somewhat rapid manner through internet social sub-culture, as well as through large scale urban installations.

Interactivity in art

Boundary Functions at the Tokyo Intercommunications Center, 1999.
Boundary Functions (1998) interactive floor projection by Scott Snibbe at the NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.[5]

Interactive art is a genre of art in which the viewers participate in some way by providing an input in order to determine the outcome. Unlike traditional art forms wherein the interaction of the spectator is merely a mental event, interactivity allows for various types of navigation, assembly, and/or contribution to an artwork, which goes far beyond purely psychological activity.[4] Interactivity as a medium produces meaning.[6]

Interactive art installations are generally computer-based and frequently rely on sensors, which gauge things such as temperature, motion, proximity, and other meteorological phenomena that the maker has programmed in order to elicit responses based on participant action. In interactive artworks, both the audience and the machine work together in dialogue in order to produce a completely unique artwork for each audience to observe. However, not all observers visualize the same picture. Because it is interactive art, each observer makes their own interpretation of the artwork and it may be completely different than another observer's views.[6]

Interactive art can be distinguished from Generative art in that it constitutes a dialogue between the artwork and the participant; specifically, the participant has agency, or the ability, even in an unintentional manner, to act upon the artwork and is furthermore invited to do so within the context of the piece, i.e. the work affords the interaction. More often, we can consider that the work takes its visitor into account. In an increasing number of cases an installation can be defined as a responsive environment, especially those created by architects and designers. By contrast, Generative Art, which may be interactive, but not responsive per se, tends to be a monologue – the artwork may change or evolve in the presence of the viewer, but the viewer may not be invited to engage in the reaction but merely enjoy it.[3]

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