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Interaction still Disappointing in Digital Art

The present situation of interaction in digital art lets alls parties disappointed. Why? And can we suggest some solutions?

(Image on the right comes from Wikipedia)

How often to we see the same kind of scene in a gallery or exposition: spectators arrive in front of a digital work. Something lets him think that it is interactive. Then they do some tries: move hand, turns the head, claps his hands... with at best a simplistic answer from the work. Then they turn to something else, with disappointment and, perhaps, some discontent, if they have tried more visibly and made a fool of themselves in front of the family or the general public.
On his/her side, the author is no less frustrated: "They don't understand", or "They made a game of it and did not really get the substance of my work". Or worse: "They tried to take control of my creation".

Some possible ways out of this frustration.
1. Minimalist. Avoid absolutely any interaction. And don't let your work, through its more or less eletronic look, stir hopes of dialogue.
2. Educational and practical. Give clear cues (why not even something like an user's guide) of what the spectators can expect and should look for.
3. Costly. Have in permance somebody around to help the spectators (like now in airports around the row of automated ticketing machines).
4. Toolmaking. Consider your work as a consruction box, a game or a software tool and let the users forget you.
5. Ambitious and without limits. Have a rich set of sensors to perceive not only the presence of spectators but their attitude and, symmetrically, program a rich set of behaviors, aiming to engage the spectator and keep their attention, while sending them the deep aesthetic or moral message of your artistic effort.

Some comments.

- Even "passive" works call for some interaction. In front of a canvas hung in a gallery or museum, you gan get nearer or farther, half-close your eyes (to get some blur), come at different hours an days, read and learn about it, and of course let your present past impressions and culture "interact". Every time you look or listen to a work of art, you somehow reconstruct it. The least interactive of all is the cinema in a public hall.You have to stay in your seat until the end, and even claps are meaningless here. The only feedback will come through the box office.

- Interactions not expected by the author are sometimes the most interesting ones. Would they be only the multiple variations on Mona Lisa, wih the famos LHOOQ by Marcel Duchamp. But more creatively, today, the photographs taken by the visitors on the spot with their smartphone or tablet, and immediately or later sent to family, friends and social networks.

- The toolmaking approach may be fascinating, economically rewarding and sometimes morally. A lot of artist know the name of Casey Reas and Ben Fry, two artists who opted for this approach and offered the Processing environment to so many creators. Meccano (for my father's genration and mine, 75 this year), Lego (for my children) and iPad (for my grand-children) has or have had a considerable cultural impact. Were their creators less "artists" than Vinci and Warhol?

- The 60's. heralded a postmodern approach where the spectator would take an active part. The results got limited results and mixed feelings. Stronger waves have surged with the "second worlds", the MMOG (Massively Multiplayers Online Games), giving importance to the UGC (User Generated Contents), and now the "spreadable media" (an expression formed by [Jenkins]). But not without qualms on the authors side (see our notes about transmedia).








Paris ACM Siggraph, the French chapter of ACM Siggraph, worldwide non-profit organization of computer graphics.




Les Algoristes, an association of artists using their own algorithms in their work.





Galerie Charlot An important supporter of digital art.