Thoughts on Interactivity...

 
Today, net surfers can roam the web and gather data at a scale and speed unprecedented in history. Never before has it been as easy to pinpoint specific information you're looking for or simply veer off on a tangent--at a moment's notice--to follow a new-found pathway of interest.

Maps, inherently visual, work wonderfully as interactive info graphics. Learning about railroads, location-specific history, linguistic groupings or whatever can all be greatly enhanced by user-driven actions exposing clickable info.

And sometimes just a fascination with mouse events driving a seemingly random sequence of events provide a kind of "poetry to the eye." The interconnected kinetic aspect of "motion-linked" objects has taken the 60s lava lamp to a whole new dimension of user-controlled psychedelia to the web...

Interactivity is something that cannot exist without the viewer. A system is set, with more or less flexibility, the user engages that system, and in the process of their engagement the work is formed. In doing this, something very interesting happens: the artist ceases to become the sole author of the work, and the user becomes the sole creator, and an integral part of the medium itself.

So if a piece does not exist before the audience's engagement, only a framwork of systems and variables, then what are the politics of this medium? How does that compare to the previous popular model of fine art? What would happen if a piece of art dealing with love or the subtlety of human interaction become just as captivating to play with as a Sony Playstation? The implications are worth thinking about...

James Paterson
www.presstube.com

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