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technology in the '90s  

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

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I had an wonderful surprise in exhibiting the work for that very crowded week in 1995 when, after thousands of people, in an unbelievable, intense heat, which was magnified even more by the mirrors - the robots, really still quite handmade and very much c lassifiable, by industrial norms, as prototypes, began to become what I could only call "insane". They would break down, and at first, I would fix them again, every few hours. But after a while, I began to enjoy the personalities they developed when the y were "broken", not working as they were "supposed to".. One would only go in circles. Another would confuse left and right, front and back. Gearboxes began to strip, making noises and making some movements impossible. Another, though it could move pro perly, had lost its voice, but was instead, due to a crossing of wires, able to project its voice into one of the other puppets, which then had a split personality when occupied by two of the unwitting visitors. As they devolved further and further, thei r pathos was hilarious, perfect, like a Becket play. It was in the breakdown of the technology that these puppets began to differentiate themselves, rebel against demands made on them, find a form of irrationality and unpredictability, and resist attempt s at interacting with them - and it seems to me that in a really successful piece, whether its working or not is not very important.

Mt. Fuji

This is a photograph I took from the window of my apartment in Tokyo, and you can see Mt. Fuji off in the distance. What it doesn't show is that this was the only moment during the six months I lived there when I could see Mt. Fuji in the distance. It j ust happened that one day, after being there for a month or two, I realized for the first time what was there, and I photographed it. Every other day before and after, there was fog. It irreversibly changed my way of looking out that window. After that d ay, the view before me was marked by a question - can I see Fuji today? And as time went on, and each day saw no Fuji, I realized that I could ever see that view again without trying to see the mountain. This is also the problem of making interactive art. Once one begins to make it, to find it in exhibitions, each work in turn must also now answer the question - "Is it interactive, or not?", until it doesn't matter anymore.

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