Reflections on the nature of interaction†

E. A. Edmonds
2007 CoDesign - International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts  
igital art may be static or dynamic with a totally fixed behaviour but often such artworks, or art systems, interact with the world in some way. These interactions may be with objects in the environment or may be with an audience sensed through image . or sound analysis. The most complex interactions are potentially those with the audience, with purposeful enquiring (human) systems. Whilst a concern for interaction in computational art has been with us for a long time (Cornock and Edmonds,
more » ... , it still deserves careful consideration. What is the nature of such interaction and what is the range of forms that it might take? How might those forms determine the kind of computational mechanisms that are appropriate for the artwork? Burnham argued for the importance of understanding artworks in their environmental context and that all things 'which processes art data ...are components of the work of art' (Burnham, 1969) . So by that definition, the audience is part of the artwork. As early as 1966, Roy Ascott had developed a theoretical position in which participation and interaction between the audience and the artwork were central (Ascott, 1966) . He later gave up the practice of making art objects all together: 'In California in the 1970s, introduced to the computer conferencing system of Jacques Vallee, lnformedia, I saw at once its potential as a medium for art and in 1979 abandoned painting entirely in order to devote myself wholly and exclusively to exploring telematics as a medium for art' (Ascott, 1998) . In other art forms, such as Happenings, participation was also prevalent. Kirby described rather basic examples of participation in Allan Kaprow's Eat thus, 'Directly in front of the entrance, apples hung on rough strings from the ceiling. If the visitor Wished, he could remove one of the apples and eat it or, if he was not very hungry, merely take a bite from it and leave it dangling' (Kirby, 1965). Participation in the artwork by becoming part of the art system and interacting with whatever the artist provided was becoming a familiar experience, whether it was typing at the keyboard or eating the apple. In the 1960s and 1970s it was also current wisdom that engagement and interaction had a positive part to play in any creative activity. Thus, participation in art was considered to be important. Learning by doing, interactive science exhibitions and so on were very popular concepts. However, notwithstanding 'Happenings' and exhibitions that invited the xxii xxiii
doi:10.1080/15710880701251427 fatcat:p3m7dki5dvd47jwh4kxvbmqvvq