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February 17, 2005

From A to D and back again:


The Emerging Aesthetics of Interactive Art

"...Screen-based 'hypertextual works', 'instrumented physical spaces' and 'mapped virtual and real environments' are three new genres. Another 'dimension' can be added to each of these by the inclusion of fast, wide bandwidth digital communications technologies. We might call this tele-interactivity. There are identifiable sub-genres, in which the interaction is: between people geographically separated; between a person and a machine, geographically separated; or between people geographically separated at a virtual site.

The first we might call 'teleconferencing art'. Paul Sermon has produced provocative works in this vein, such as Telematic Dreaming...A second sub-genre utilises the idea of teleoperation. Eduardo Kac and Ed Bennett's Ornithorinco allows a user to teleoperate a robot (over phone lines) to explore an environment.

More provocatively, Stelarc's recent Fractal Flesh project allows his body to be teleoperated over the net. In both these works some aspect of the user (vision, volition) is extruded over the communication network to 'be' in another place. A third sub-genre (exemplified by Agnes Hegedus' Fruit Machine) allows multiple remote users to cooperate in tasks in a shared virtual environment.

The sudden explosion of networked multimedia (via the World Wide Web) has finally realised the dreams of the pioneer network artist of the mid eighties, (though this realisation has a decidedly commercial cast to it). A recent network project by the Berlin based Art+Com group, T-Vision is on the one hand chillingly panoptical, on the other it demonstrates coordinated global data retrieval in a way that the WWW only hints at. "T-Vision" offers a radical new paradigm of computation. In this work, a user rolls a beach-ball sized trackball, and a globe of the world presented on the screen, rolls correspondingly. This image is made up of a patchwork of satellite and aerial photos. This world can be zoomed. In some cases one can zoom from the entire globe down to a city street in one smooth swoop. In one case, one can zoom into the Art+Com office, and look through a video camera pointing out the window, and see real time video action! "T-Vision" can utilise the entire internet, drawing on dispersed databases for its images, so that the globe is continually updated, even to the extent of real time video, if available..."

From From A to D and back again: the emerging aesthetics of interactive art by Simon Penny, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Volume 4, No. 4, April 1996.

Posted by jo at February 17, 2005 08:30 AM