Interaction in Art and Technology
Abstract. The interest of artists and art theorists in audience participation with artworks has been particularly active since the 1960s. Interactive artworks that could transform viewers into participants were envisaged and created using the media available at that time. Today the opportunities for including audience participation have been increased significantly by the widespread availability of digital technology. The degree of collaboration between technologists and artists affects the necessary interaction between artist and computer. This paper discusses the role of technology in interactive art and the complex ways in which the artist can interact with computers and digital media in order to specify artworks. Categories of interactive art systems defined earlier as static, dynamic-passive, dynamic-interactive and dynamic-interactive (varying) are brought up-to-date and illustrated by examples of work from the Creativity and Cognition Research Studios.
Environments for Interactive Art
We need computing resources and software to enable the kind of guided or playful exploration of possibilities in which artists engage. But how can we ensure that the artists have access to digital environments that are adaptable to their evolving needs? One solution might be the creation of more software tools that allow the artist access to deeper levels of the computer's programming system, rather than software applications that have been developed for specific tasks such as image manipulation. Such tools could provide a bridge between the use of an environment that requires programming knowledge and the ‘closed’ application, which does not provide sufficient flexibility.
Our experience suggests that even today, with all the advances in software, the degree of programming and systems expertise is critical to having more artistic control over the development process. Those artists who had such knowledge were in a position to make more interim decisions during the exploratory process that guided the next course of action. Those artists who depended on a technologist often felt uncertain as to how much control they might have to relinquish to achieve their goals.
There is no one solution to designing environments for creative use. Conflicting requirements, such as accessibility and ease of learning on the one hand, and a high degree of control by the artist on the other, may not be mutually achievable. Ways forward combine new technology, new ways of working and new collaborations. Each artist will chose a personal approach, and the intersection of art and technology will lead along different paths in each case. Nevertheless, it is important to understand as much as possible about what is general in art and technology creative processes and how applicable different technologies are.
A fundamental question that we have been considering is, what kind of environments best support the development of digital art? There is one answer to this question which, although it may sound a little strange, is, nevertheless, appropriate. In art and technology environments, we need environments for building environments. This approach is analogous to having a store which stocks all of the components that one might need in order to build a carpenter's workbench. The store is an environment that has all of the components that one might need, such as vices, bench tops, tool racks, etc. By selecting from them and assembling the items in our own workroom, we can build a specific environment suitable for our particular carpentry needs. The store provides an environment for building the particular environments that its customers need...."
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