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technology in the '90s  

the interactive gambit (do not run! we are your friends!)

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This work, and others I made, used linear editing to create complex meanings across the point of the edit, multivalent possibilities riding the edit as the line of the world inside the mind of the viewer. I was keenly aware of this as a kind of interacti on As I became involved later with computer-controlled image playback, allowing random-access to image and sound fragments, another dimension could be added, as if a rectangle expanded was into a cube, and the cube could move through space. But what I w ant to point out is that, though the technology is one of random-access as a possibility for restructuring fixed relations into other configurations, as long as the sequencing of images and sounds are not random, which they are not in these interactive vi deo works of mine, they are still written. And though the complexity is substantially increased, the particular sequences and possibilities remain highly determined. So part of what became interesting for me in these technological possibilities was a wa y to extend an investigation with which I had been already involved for some time, in a significantly extended way.

I will show now another videotape document, a work which I completed in 1993, titled "Childhood / Hot & Cold Wars". Again, it has narration which more or less introduces the work . But I want to emphasize the connection in this work to earlier works lik e The Double, in order to emphasize that it has, in essentially the same way as a linear videotape, been edited, and all of the possibilities for the sequences in it are given by the software I have written.

("Childhood/ Hot & Cold Wars" video segment)

[slide of globe]

The point of temptation here is obviously the globe. It is hard to resist spinning any globe, an I relied on that impulse to create a way to interact with this work. But beyond that, I had to write a computer program which would play certain images and sounds in certain ways, depending upon how people turned the globe. I was interested in a kind of nervous interaction, one which had more of a response to the type of gesture evidenced by the way a person turned the globe than the actual position of the globe itself. Careful and rather slow forms of turning allow people to dig around in the 200,000 fields of highly structured image-sequences stored on the laserdiscs. But if someone begins to spin the globe wildly, the images and sounds also reflect that, go out of their control, become nearly delirious, so that there is a relationship of the way in which someone interacts with the work to the facets of the work which are revealed.

In each interactive work, one initially has to put oneself in the position of the one who will encounter this work in a public place, if that is its destination. In the same way that a designer will anticipate and design for the ways in which a person wi ll interact with a functional object, artists creating interactive works think about the ways in which people will encounter and try to manipulate their work. This aspect, of imagining oneself as another, adds a layer to the creative process which is hig hly problematic. Can I imagine myself as another, or do I imagine them as myself? Is there a loss of integrity when the artist tries to imagine his or her audience, as if targeting a product for a market? Is it overly romantic and idealistic to hope tha t an audience can follow the artist wherever he or she cares to go with their work? Does one need to know to whom one is speaking? To paraphrase Paz, am I the same one as the one who writes when I read what I have written?

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