[-empyre-] "interactive"

Kwastek, K. k.kwastek at vu.nl
Tue Jan 14 20:51:31 EST 2014

Hi all,

Nathaniel wrote that " I'd love to hear more about your "modes of experience," and how they relate between the situation of art, and the practice of the everyday. Can you list a few modes, and maybe give one example in more depth?"

Sure: the main modes I identified (but there might be others still to identify) are constructive comprehension, experimental exploration, creative expression, and communication/observation.  Why so? One of my main questions was: if interactivity is based on rule systems which limit the recipient's scope for action, if he/she is definitely not a free, emancipated co-creator, but if we still see a great value in the active involvement offered by interactive art - how can we come to grips with it? I looked at a great variety of interactive artworks - and this might be important here: not only at works which put the embodied interactor at central stage! I also included narrative works of internet art. In these, for example, often the recipient is mainly invited to activate the narration, keep it going, constructively influencing order, speed or selection of assets, while trying to comprehend the systemic layout and the narration. In other works, recipients are much more involved in experimental activities, testing various potentials of systemic feedback. One of my examples is Tmema's Manual Input Workstation. It invites recipients to generate forms and sounds in a kind of shadow play facilitated by a computer-enhanced overhead projector. While you may just experimentally explore the system's potentials, you may also, once you have figured out some part of the system's workings, use it as a creative expression device. And actually the work was first presented as a performance tool, used by the artists to perform their audiovisual plays. This said, these modes I propose are partly inscribed into the interactivity of the system, but partly also depended on its actualization, may vary with individual ways of interacting. 

[I don't want to go into detail of how such an aesthetics of interaction, understood as these individual ways of interacting, can be researched in practice, though I give a great deal of attention to this.  Let me just refer anybody interested to the documentary collections we published at the site of the Langlois foundation - using a method developed by Caitlin Jones and Lizzie Muller, with whom I cooperated: (Tmema, Manual Input Workstation)  http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=2220 (Rokeby, VNS) http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=2186]

But back to you, Nathaniel: can you further explain your notion of the implicit body? I think this is really interesting. My first association would be the implicit reader used in reception aesthetics to denote that the reader is somewhat present in a work itself, that there are blank spaces within the work left for him/her to fill. But I reckon you are hinting at something else. So if you write that 

"This body is constantly changing, in and through its ongoing relationships. This body is a dynamic form, full of potential. It is not 'a body,' as thing, but embodiment as incipient activity." - this is what you actually mean with the implicit body, right? 

You say that 
"I go on in my case studies to propose "implicit body thematics" - relations that are "conceptually sensed" experienced and practiced with/in the frame of interactive art (for example: flesh-space with Nora Zuniga Shaw, body-language with Camille Utterback, social-anatomies with Mathieu Briand)." 

It would be really exciting to find out in how far these body thematics relate to the experiential modes I identified. 

Concerning my takes on embodiment and affect  -as might already have become apparent, I see them within a much larger picture of various possible forms of interaction. The body in its actual physical and sensuous workings might be more or less at the center of interactive experiences. Let me explain this via one further case study from my book: Lynn Hershman's "Room of One's own", another classic of interactive art, which features a peep-box like viewing device. Here bodily engagement with the work is restricted to moving the viewing device, your body is excluded from the artificial world, while its presence in the exhibition space becomes a key factor of the work's experience. The work itself deals with issues of voyeurism and gendered identity, so the body is very much a topic, but only partly is the recipient's body an active agent of the whole experience. In other works, such as Sonia Cillari's 'Se mi sei vicino', we are actually dealing with embodiment much more in the sense Nathaniel is focusing on, I think. 
Anyway, it might be interesting to ask in how far the notion of immersion Liz brought into the discussion again is linked to the one of embodiment. In my book, I prefer the notion of flow to describe the feeling of being 'taken away' by our own actions and experiences, as immersion is often still associated with the idea of the realistic simulation of space. Any thoughts?

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