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Emerging from a peculiar concatenation of sculpture, experimental cinema, automata, arcade machines, shrines, and computer technology, the interactive work of art holds an equally peculiar status in a nether-world between art, what has come to be called m edia art, and electronic entertainment.
I'll first discuss a few precedents in art which have interested me, and trace a part of the past of the "interactive" art gambit. I will look briefly at some works by Duchamp and Johns, a turn-of-the-century scientific apparatus, and some Asian shrines, before discussing some of my own work.
Video games, training hypermedia, and military simulators are often invoked as the ancestors of interactive art, and are the reference points for many people's first experiences of these works. These military and commercial forms are very important in und erstanding the culture in which these artworks have come into existence, as they are clearly an expression of its imaginary, too; and the availability of these technologies to artists, in time, is highly significant. But they are, for me, a reference onl y in deciphering the larger language of the culture drift. Within a practice of making art, which is what these works intend to be, the commercial and military forms should not be mistaken as the only, or the primary, contextual landmarks.