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February 27, 2007

Neme: Erkki Huhtamo


On the Identity Crisis of Interactive Art

"I encountered – “hands-on” – an emerging phenomenon called “interactive art” on my first visit to the Ars Electronica festival (Linz, Austria) in 1989. One of the works on display was Deep Contact, a laserdisc installation by the American artist Lynn Hershman. Sitting in front of a display, the user was invited by (the image of) a seductive young lady to “reach through the screen” and touch her. By means of a touchscreen interface, the spectator-turned-into-interactor responded, entering various realms, including a kind of garden of earthly delights, where s/he chose forking paths and encountered erotically loaded incidents along the way. Another installation was The Legible City by Jeffrey Shaw. By means of a stationary bicycle, like the ones at gyms, the visitor entered a virtual city consisting of letters, words and sentences. Choosing one’s routes through the spatialized database, one engaged in simultaneous acts of reading and writing with the combined efforts of one’s eyes, hands, and feet. I still remember the intoxicating feeling of diving under a giant letter “A”, or the sensation of virtually crashing through entire words. These experiences raised questions in my mind: what does cruising between and under letters, and even penetrating them, mean? What is the ontology of such experiences? Am I inside language, or even beyond it? Or inside someone else’s mind? Confronted with such uncanny issues, I had a feeling that something “new”, perhaps even the “ontological rupture” touted by virtual reality enthusiasts, was in the making." Continue reading On the Identity Crisis of Interactive Art by Erkki Huhtamo, Neme.

Posted by jo at February 27, 2007 09:20 AM