09.26.16 Interactivity as a Compositional Value for Artists:

Why is interface design important in interactive art systems?

“An Abstract Model of Instrument Control” by Nate Aldrich

“The History of the Interface in Interactive Art” by Söke Dinkla

“The Interface” by Lev Manovich

 

Why would artists create an interactive work?

“The History of Electronic Music as a Reflection of Structural Paradigms” by Joel Chadabe

“Interaction” by Caitlin Rubin

“The Myth of Interactivity” by Lev Manovich

“Healing Interactions and Interactive Digital Art” by Barbara Buckner

 

Why is interface design important in interactive art systems?

“An Abstract Model of Instrument Control” by Nate Aldrich

  • .. maybe the answer is, because the system design is really the art. If it isn’t correct, then nothing will happen?
  • You want it to generate new stuff?

 

“The History of the Interface in Interactive Art” by Söke Dinkla

  • Interactivity is a catchword in common talk
  • prediction of many channels of interactive TV programs
  • proponents praise bc interactivity as stated above, will change viewing from passive to active
  • Bertolt Brecht’s Radio Theory
  • distribution machine to communication device
  • computer games
  • 6 important implications of Interactivity
  • Historical Background and some Conflicts of Interactive Art
  • background: particpational
  • happenings and reactive kinetic environments
  • builds on participation by allowing viewer to intervene in the action
  • NOT like Happenings because NOT an attack against established art audience
  • INSTEAD meets needs of media educated public
  • IMPLICATIONS reflects role of computer tech
  • Power and Play
  • Trend 1 – Responsive environments
  • not complex dialogue, interaction
  • Trend 2 – head mounted display
  • Krueger closed circuit installation, viewers see their own image
  • Critter
  • goal to subvert critter
  • Critter reassigns power
  • opposed to isolation from head mount prefers open space
  • technical interface is invisible, only action matters
  • Participation v. Interaction
  • 1983 Jeffery Shaw, First Interactive installation
  • Happenings, movement is performer on stage
  • Shaw, movement is joystick
  • movement of spectator becomes movement of image
  • new points of view not from physical experience but from interactive media
  • become the character?
  • Proximity and Manipulation
  • David Rokeby Very Nervous System
  • adds non visual
  • creates feedback loop between audio and visual
  • Silicon, allows user to enter image
  • environments not installations
  • Strategies of Seduction
  • Lynn Hershman, Lorna 1984 and Deep Contact 1990
  • A Room of One’s Own 1992
  • Desires of the Audience made manifest
  • Nonlinear narration
  • Non Linear Narration
  • Grahame Weinbren, Erlking
  • narration and song as rational oral tradition
  • confront with interaction
  • interaction takes over pectoral memory
  • only helps new understanding if stories are well known so that pictures add new context
  • Personal Note: I think I did something like this once on a whim. I created a poem for the class, one they had studied (the Tyger by William Blake). Then I added conflicting images to the poem in a power point. I showed it to the students. Then I made a PowerPoint with complementary images and showed it to the students. The students write an analysis of what they saw.
  • Remembering, Forgetting,. Reconstructing – “The Surrogate Travel”
  • Ken Feingold, The Surprising Spiral in 1991
  • touch screen interface without second monitor
  • also allowed manipulation of sound
  • collage from film materials
  • no documentary truth despite being constructed from documentaries
  • context created only through interaction
  • similar to travel impressions. Short moments that cannot be repeated
  • always reconstructed differently
  • AND NOW that implications have been studied
  • The second generation
  • expected to build and fulfill expectations
  • US favors touch screen
  • Europe favors environments
  • Personal Note: Interesting cultural comparison
  • Christa Sommerer A-Volve
  • artificial and natural words do not oppose, are interconnected
  • interface design is getting more subtle and diverse
  • difference sin 1st and 2nd gen Interactive Artists
  • Workspaces are available that allow artists to favor interfaces over installation
  • first gen stories, second gen interaction itself is the focus, because of this the design of interface has become more important
  • antagonism between computer system and human being has been overcome. Now art reflects future of coexistence between human and computer.
  • original interactive work, multilayered, encoded memory
  • made accepted
  • BUT
  • narration looses social context
  • new artists may be able to help merge art and tech.

 

“The Interface” by Lev Manovich

  • Blade runner (1982) Director Ridley Scott
  • Hired to Make 1984 Macintosh commercial
  • both movie and technology had big impact
  • defined 2 aesthetics
  • futurism/decay/dystopia
  • techno-minimalism
  • Macs minimalistic, straight line, rectangle design has survived to date
  • unlike Blade runner, line between computer tech and human is clear with no decay
  • 1992, computer shifts from particular technology to cultural filter
  • computer interface acts as code which transmits culture
  • when you use a computer, it is a interface that carries cultural message sin a variety of media
  • Personal Note: The Filter bubble then acts as a powerful shaper of culture
  • in cultural communication, code is not just neural transfer. It affects the message
  • Personal Note: The Medium is the message
  • non-transparency of code
  • Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis, extreme example
  • Human thinking is determined by the code of natural language; the speakers of different languages perceive and think about the world differently
  • apply to computer
  • computer applies on logic to other media
  • example: Cut and paste
  • work and leisure both use computer
  • loss of separation
  • Karl Marx imagined future communist state would overcome divide, cut wood, garden, compose music
  • IF human-computer interface become a key semiotic code of the information society as well as its meta-tool, how does this affect the functioning of cultural objects in general and art objects in particular?
  • same data, many interfaces
  • tempting to think of new-media art work as having two levels, content and interface
  • BUT NO
  • because that assumes content is separate from medium
  • modern artists assume content and form can’t be separated
  • new media artwork has an “informational dimension”
  • they including, retrieving, looking at and thinking about quantified data
  • justified in separating the levels of content and interface
  • AT THE SAME TIME
  • also has experiential and aesthetic dimensions
  • that justify it as art
  • interface create uniqueness
  • content pre-existing the interface challenged when content is generated in real time by the interface
  • ex AL, AI, Coding, etc
  • evolution paradigm – evolution theory to data generation
  • cultural interfaces = interfaces used by standalone hypermedia (ex DVD, CD-Rom)
  • key element of modern interface – computer screen
  • The Language of Cultural Interfaces
  • HCI Human-Computer Interfaces
  • physical tools and metaphors
  • computer starts as tool for work but in 90s changes to a universal media machine
  • all distribution of all forms of culture by computer
  • no longer interfacing to computer but to culture in digital form
  • the ways in which computers present and allow us to interact with cultural data
  • typical 90s web page similar to magazine layout plus search engine, hypertext, buttons
  • ex Myst game, movie like
  • why are computer interfaces the way they are?
  • because they borrow from elements already familiar to us
  • cinema
  • printed word
  • general human-computer interface
  • refer not to specific forms but general
  • each has a unique way of organizing information
  • the three have a lot in common
  • can be easily mixed together
  • how have they shaped interfaces?
  • Text is first to be digitized
  • Ted Nelsons Xanadu project
  • text privileged
  • meta-language of computer
  • bc used in coding computer
  • cultural interfaces inherit organization from text
  • CI rely on familiarity with page interface
  • rectangles of limited text
  • in 1984 apple creates Graphic User Interface with windows
  • 1987 Apple, Hypercard program expands GUI
  • later HTML extends further
  • Personal Note: Clay Tablets, Paper, Scrolls, Pages, Press, Books, Computer, GUI, HTML
  • scrolling similar to scrolls used early
  • Personal Note: I think that’s a bit of a stretch to say it’s a backwards step. The similarity is really only in the physical act of rolling the page. The reason behind it is very different.
  • stretching definition of page
  • 1997, British Antirom for hotwired RGB Gallery
  • in 1990s, web pages still similar to books and magazines
  • VRML evangelists wanted to make it 3-D
  • 1997 Webstalker
  • 1999 Netomat
  • browsers challenged traditional webpage design
  • Page design stays similar EXCEPT adding hyper linking
  • hyper linking is not the same a footnotes
  • footnotes serve the text in which they are located. hyperlinks extend beyond it
  • hyperlinks are non hierarchal
  • more like collage, many different sources brought together
  • printed word link to art of rhetoric
  • hyper linking can be used for rhetoric but it is not always
  • decline in art of rhetoric
  • Roman Jakobson, binary computer logic reduces rhetoric to only metaphor and metonymy
  • hyper linking privileges metonymy over everything else
  • all human culture into one library or one book (implies either organizational system or narration)
  • RAM flattens data because any data can be reached as fast and easily as another data
  • not linear or sequential
  • post modernism privileges space over time
  • flattens historical time, refuses grand narratives
  • moving over space rather than through time
  • Printed word becomes less important as cinema grows
  • cinema language, people can understand but not speak (make films)
  • computer allows both
  • we acquire new languages because based on old languages
  • most important case for cinema influence
  • mobile camera
  • developed for 3dgraphics
  • zoom, tilt, pan, etc become part of interaction
  • rectangular framing of reality
  • frame is a window into a larger space
  • “onscreen space”
  • “off screen space”
  • what is in the screen is considered to continue beyond the frame
  • even if we can’t see it
  • computer like cinema allows mobility of the frame
  • VR also uses rectangular framing
  • but in VR the user controls the camera
  • designer of a VR is a cinematographer as well as an architect
  • computer games, Cinematic interface aggressively transformed to cultural interface
  • incorporation of virtual camera controls into game hardware is historic
  • cinema has new life as a toolbox for computer use
  • The Invisible Shape of Things Past by Joachim Sauter and Dirk Lusenbrink
  • Tamas Waliczky The Garden and The Forrest
  • HCI: Representation vs Control
  • Until recently, development HCI had little to do with cultural objects
  • 1940-80s (rise of PC) – real time weapons control, scientific simulation, computer aided design, office secretarial work
  • today does mores, still relies on old grammar/symbols
  • Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation defines media as “that which remediates”
  • purpose that all media remediates meaning, translates, reforms, other media
  • HCI fits that thesis
  • Cultural interfaces of 90s, between immersion and control
  • HCI conceptualizes computer screen, some objects can be acted on while some cannot
  • image mapping with hyperlinks
  • screen is both window into illusionary space AND flat surface for labels and icons
  • combination map and picture
  • similar to Dutch paintings as described in “The Art of Describing” by Svetlana Alpers
  • HCI also strive for middle ground between originality and conformity
  • we want it to be consistent and easy but also novel and new
  • language of HCI is a hybrid
  • immersive v. control

 

 

Why would artists create an interactive work?

“The History of Electronic Music as a Reflection of Structural Paradigms” by Joel Chadabe

  • Abstract
  • New paradigms in all fields simultaneously
  • 2 most important developments in electronic music
  • opening of music to all sounds
  • development of interactive instruments
  • Article
  • Book on History of Electronic Music
  • Things happen simultaneously across fields
  • because they reflect shifting world views
  • not true that scientists discover and art expresses!
  • Ives “Unanswered Question”
  • New structural paradigms happen in every field at about the same time
  • Opening of music reflects shift from Newton’s Absolute time to Einstein’s relativity
  • Musical Automata as basis for algorithmic composition reflects shift from determinacy to indeterminacy
  • The Opening of Music to All Sound
  • orrery – table top model of Newton’s solar system
  • Absolute Time is not liable to change
  • music and art in Newtonian period reflects this paradigm
  • all synced to perspective, all synced to line
  • universe scaled to human capability
  • direct extension of what humans can see
  • 20th century it changes
  • becomes clear that nature extends beyond human scale
  • reflected in the arts
  • cubism
  • The Reservoir, Horta
  • parallel realities in music
  • Debussy, Stravinsky, Ives
  • multiplicity f processes = multiplicity of materials
  • found objects in art
  • collage of unrelated juxtaposed objects
  • sounds no longer connected to instruments
  • the ability to create sounds as reason to engage in electronic music
  • world of micro sound opened up
  • Denis Smalley “My musical ideas come out of sounds themselves’
  • Indeterminacy
  • determinism allows us to see life flowing smoothly from one point to the next
  • structure
  • indeterminacy, no control, randomness.
  • Can be disturbing
  • John Cage, “My Music is a process, like the weather”
  • Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, essential randomness is the behavior of subatomic particles
  • Einstein didn’t like it, he didn’t think it could be pure chance
  • Monod, “Destiny is written concurrently with the event”
  • Basic Question: Does a composer view a composition as an object with its sound and structure carefully determined?
  • If YES then composer will need to control the process of composition on every level
  • if NO, then interactive process, takes many forms depending on who performs it
  • Indeterminacy is the heartbeat of the interactive system
  • surprises
  • human performer becomes conversationalist
  • Bruno Spoerri, “a reason to react”
  • George Lewis, “I try to get the computer to do its own thing”
  • Conclusion
  • simplistic to reduce world views to plan v. improvise
  • determinism no longer useful
  • indeterminacy explains surprises but once understood it becomes old
  • interaction means mutual influence
  • music – influence instrument and are influenced by sounds it makes
  • Personal Note: isn’t that how all music works? Isn’t that why I can’t play the violin? I can put my fingers on the strings but I don’t react to the sounds. It’s just a mechanical process. Hence I suck.
  • predict a Strategies Paradigm to deal with not only immediate interactions but long term implications of interactions

 

“Interaction” by Caitlin Rubin

  • Interactive is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “reciprocally active; acting upon or influencing each other.”
  • A second definition listed by the OED presents interactive as “pertaining to or being a computer or other electronic device that allows a two-way flow of information between it and a user, responding immediately to the latter’s input.”
  • technology caused the term to be associated with human-machine relationships
  • television interactivity, sign off suggests relationship with viewer that continues
  • bridging realm of reality and media
  • representation becomes new reality
  • Margaret Mores says interactivity allows user to select or change the device
  • McLuhan tracks emergence with definition of “hot” and “:cool” media
  • McLuhan interactive media are participatory
  • new societal space: Virtual
  • web immerses user in abstracted environment
  • interact with humans and machines in cyberspace
  • interactions in virtual space transcend physical boundaries
  • interactions become more complex as media develops
  • some believe that computer mediated relations are “democracies salvation” equalizing
  • global collaboration
  • others say virtual interactions are only fantasy
  • formation rather than forms
  • “relational aesthetics” Bouririaud
  • “dialogical art” Grant Kester
  • unfold through a process of perfomative interaction
  • Rikrit Tiravanija’s Untitled 1992 (Free) exemplifies the increasing interactivity of art exhibitions
  • recreation of the gallery as a new site of interaction.
  • Food Guy
  • new relationships

 

“The Myth of Interactivity” by Lev Manovich

  • the concept of “interactivity” is too broad to be useful.
  • qualifies definition
  • in relationship to computer based media, the concept of interactivity is a tautology
  • Modern HCI is, by its nature, interactive
  • it is meaningless because it states the most basic fact about computers
  • uses more specific definitions to describe computers
  • closed and open interactivity
  • easy to specify different interactive structures in new media
  • more difficult to theoretically deal with user experiences within the structures
  • art already interactive in many ways
  • ellipses, continued perspective, etc
  • this progressed with modern art, things like image montage, etc
  • then Futurism and Dada, prepared ground for computer installations of the 80s
  • when “interactive media” is exclusive to computers, then we interpret “interaction” literally and only physical. Psychology gets dismissed
  • externalize and objectify the mind
  • The Film, A Psychological Study 1916
  • Eisenstien theorized about how film could be used to externalize and control the mind
  • Marxist dialectics
  • Jaron Lanier, VR completely objectifying mental processes
  • claimed VR would lead to an age of “Post symbolic communication “communication without language or symbols
  • many modern psychological theories of mind equate mental processes with external, technologically generated, visual forms
  • abstract idea as a composite photograph
  • logical reasoning is a matter of scanning visual models
  • hyper linking objectifies mental processes, externalizes
  • Louis Althusser “interpellation”
  • interactive media asks us to identify with somebody else’s mental structure

 

 

“Healing Interactions and Interactive Digital Art” by Barbara Buckner

  • User chooses, Artist sets parameters
  • expanded power of choice
  • physical interaction is empowering
  • user becomes cause
  • user builds cycle of relationships
  • “iterative cycle of aesthetic relationships”
  • “cycle of perception and co-creation”
  • fulfills meaning of the work
  • “power of choice in an interactive work is like a brush to a painter”
  • choosing = co-creation
  • not games or financial bc those are just about winning, achieving a goal
  • but good if artist creates parameters, user explores
  • healing
  • bc user accepts responsibility, co creating, unity
  • Unity NOT Dada like
  • pure freedom = chaos
  • artists role = boundaries
  • interacting within vision
  • metaphorical play
  • Hierophant – someone who has knowledge of religious or spiritual mysteries
  • artist created code to create digital artwork is like a Hierophant
  • The hierophant = something that is stationary until user interacts
  • then it moves the invisible forces that the user cannot see to modify the onscreen elements
  • Personal Note: This goes back to what I said about the beauty of sphere world, it is a chance to play god. I think it is also important to things that Amanda is considering. Where do we find the sublime when we do not believe in god? Some of the sublime is in creation or experiencing the creation of others
  • Each starting point can lead to revelation
  • evolution of relationships
  • movement towards unity
  • connection between elements, cause and effect
  • user observes harmonic relationships, cause and effect, unity, healing
  • cybernetic system of metaphors = aesthetic feedback loop
  • artists perception and rules are passive/subconscious in traditional art
  • become conscious tool of co-creation
  • user empowered to move beyond duality (stress)
  • harmonic convergence between user and work
  • color and sound to heal?
  • could digital interactions be 20th century equivalent?
  • Personal Note: Remember to share with Amanda
  • “healing cybernetic journey of aesthetic perception”