Symposium about interactivity


Interactive works have been around for some time, and lately they are getting more and more popular. The term interactivity first surfaced around 1960 in the United States in reference to the computer or to be precise to the fact that scientists had managed to interrupt the computer's operations. They called the interruption an interactivity and decided to focus on the partnership of man and machine in further development of the computer. Since then interactivity got directly associated with computer systems. But lately this term is changing. Instead of interactive installation, many people are referring to these works as emotional architecture, ambient experience design or responsive environments. Not surprising as many of the works make use of invisible technology and interfaces, in many instances using the human body as an interface that triggers the work. This relates to the way we are dealing with technology in our daily lives, where our relationship with our environment is increasingly transforming towards the intangible: from mobile devices as telephone, game controllers and gps to electronic tags for travel and products. These changes are effecting our experience of location, space and geographical positioning on a personal and global level in both a digital and physical way. Interactive installations have always forced us to think about the complex experience of interactivity and immersion. Now, without obvious interfaces these experiences are becoming even more complex, which makes the necessity to critically examine the processes more vital than ever.

Looking at interactive art practices artists and critics will shed light on one of the key concerns for many creative practitioners - engaging the emotions of the audience/user. They will focus on the meaning and wish for 'emotional engagement' and interactivity. Artists seem compelled to expand the sensory capabilities of our bodies, but what do we gain through this process? How do we conceptualise interactivity and incorporate emotional values? Does interactivity offer, due to its participatory nature, a more profound experience than traditional forms of art? What does it add and how is that measured? How does one engage and sustain the interest of the public in an interactive experience? How does one define the line between spectacle and works that create a chain of associations and provide a space for engagement, interpretation and participation? These questions are crucial to interactive art where the user's response is sensitive to context and can influence not only the form and content of the work but also, in some cases, the future direction of technological development.