Interactive Art & Physical Computing

Making Interactive Art: Set the Stage, Then Shut Up and Listen

I thought this reading was incredibly central to the endless debate surrounding defining or redefining interactivity, and the art of interaction between human and what is seemingly non-human or digital. I have always been a supporter of the notion of allowing the audience to formulate their own perceptions about a certain artwork, rather than presenting them with a binary view of how a work of art should be interpreted.

In terms of the interactivity, I also believe that the artist or the artwork has an obligation to engage its audience in an intricate conversation. Hence, if the purpose and methods of the object or work of art were to be clearly communicated, that would take away from the authenticity of the audience’s response. Engaging in a conversation just isn’t as effective if one of the parties were to impose or dictate how the other should think or respond. Several contemporary video games, virtual reality experiences, and performances (as well as numerous other artworks), are known to be successful due to their ability to challenge the user/viewer and allude to ways of understanding the overall message or goal of the artwork, rather than readily presenting it.

Physical Computing’s Greatest Hits (and misses)

The article really struck a chord with me when the author brought up the notion or ‘originality’, and the ability to produce something truly unique amidst rapid technological advancement definitely came into question. More often than not, the ideation stage is the most challenging part of any project for me. I often struggle with coming up with a concept that is not only classifiable as different and original, but also executed in the best way possible.

This reading helped me realize that the world of physical computing is truly vast, and to see that we have already engaged with and used some of the technology employed in the variety of instruments, eased the pressure a little bit. It was also really interesting to see how most of the instruments depicted by the author focused on engaging with or heightening the senses of the user – not manifest something out of this world, and some of them were just created for the purpose of entertainment. One that really stood out to me, was the body-as-cursor project, mostly because I am invested in the idea of visual and audio extensions of the human body, but also because it provides a variety of experiences (art, interaction, performance, etc.).

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