[-empyre-] "interactive"

Nathaniel Stern nathaniel.stern at gmail.com
Wed Jan 15 00:56:06 EST 2014

Hello again Katja, Liz, Bibbe (Alan),

What an interesting discussion! Thank you all for the thoughtful and generous posts.

Bibbe, I love your apple pie! And your broadened definition of affect, and perhaps sensation. Cross-modal perception - where memories of other sensations, and how they move even when are not currently sensing them - though qualified, feeds back into what and how we sense. This is, in many ways how art functions - sometimes magically so with non-representational art. I think it also addressed Alan's question very well: interaction as an art strategy, versus the relation (or Katja's breaking up of interaction and interactivity), and how it is "less" but also perhaps more potent in other ways.

Liz, I sympathize with your blackout situation. Milwaukee, too, was devastating before I left, though I am now researching and traveling, and working hard to find times to read and post in between. I've also been fascinated with two things regarding Second Life. First, given that much of what happens there is performance art, I love that people like you "remove the body" (not really, but so to speak) from a form whose medium is the body. What does that do? It turns out, very much. Secondly, I've always had an interest in what happened on this side of the screen (where I am now). Not just in hybrid reality art (which I also have interest in), but over long stitches of sitting, and typing, and squatting, etc - what is the relation between the material/window of the screen (and that world), and its/the affect in ours, when thought of as more than just a window? I don't ask this idly, though I do know it shifts greatly dependent on the situation.

I'm curious of what what each of you think of these nascent curiosities - though feel free to go in different directions with them!

And finally Katja… Yes, I think your modes of experience and my implicit body thematics do have some similarity - especially in how we both see it as an ongoing list. And I too have a chapter on, for lack of a better word, "non-interactive" art (which is also touch on early in the book), to think through performance, potential and relation, more than interaction (though these are what I believe interactive art most often stages). I think we also both have some sympathy with Kate Hayles' "modes of relation" in (2002) ‘Flesh and Metal: Reconfiguring the Mindbody in Virtual Environments’, Configurations 10: 297–320. What I have done here is engage in sensible concepts rather than modes, mostly because of how differently we may experience the same sensible concept in a work - though I too offer that perhaps any given work can and should be though-with several sensible concepts, in depth.

Thank for the interesting play with implicit body, it's what I had not thought of, but am happy to encounter and live with. When I say it, there are a number of things I am alluding to, and as you have done, a number I'd like to grow into. For me, implication, while in the every day say under the surface, in the interactive and philosophical sense is an enfolding, an entwining, a per-formance. It is always. Embodiment is, for me, three things: the moving body (always in process), the structural body (how we understand it in action), and the virtual body (what it has the potential to be). To concentrate on implication is moreover to look again at it all, whereas much of cultural studies, and art, of the 90s and 200os (though certainly not all!), was mostly focussed on language and structure alone. Here I juxtapose with this the explicit body in order to both recognize structure and language (I am writing this email, ofter all), but also to open up a kind of listening to the force of (both language and) matter, bodies, and more. Implicit body thematics, then, are what interactive art frames. I use the word, thematic, rather than theme, in that it can not only be a noun, but also an adverb (or adjective): it requires something else, preferably action.

I think Utterback's series of External Measures interactive painting, for example Untitled 5, http://camilleutterback.com/projects/untitled-5/, beautiful play between sensation and making sense, as outlined above. She amplifies the inscribing practices of writing, drawing, painting, and making art as simultaneously implying, per-formed, and embodied practices.

What I've come to call potentialized art, implies matter and bodies in much the same way as interactive art does, though the action is itself folded into the object or installation (potentialized) in an affective way, often without the action of the viewer. One of my favorite examples here, speaking of Internet Art, is MTAA's 1 yr performance video, where they have a database perform 1 year in the studio for them, and we are meant to watch it. Here the artists' absent body, like that in SL, points to the missing body behind the screen (not watching their performance), the wasted computer power, the (general) artist not in the studio (for lack of money and time), and more…

Tell us, coming back to it now after being settled, what is exciting you (again)?


On Jan 14, 2014, at 4:51 AM, "Kwastek, K." <k.kwastek at vu.nl> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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 s
> ense 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?
> Katja
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