the interactive installation and its representation
How many interactive installations are experienced fully installed, in their
complete form, even in specialised venues for electronic art? Not many, it
seems: they are often technically too demanding, and too expensive for the
"white cube" galleries.
How to produce and exhibit such a work?
More and more artists are turning from fine arts funds to scientific research
centers that can provide facilities for developing art projects. MIT, Cambridge
University, and the CSIRO among others present such opportunities for artists.
Is it another trap?
While scientific institutions do not have or need exhibiting spaces to exhibit
their "products" in public, they can offer equipment that is often not found in
galleries or museums... Even if an artist finally manages to produce a piece of
art called an interactive installation, where and how to present it to an
In their performative aspects, interactive installations are closer to the
theatre than to the fine arts. This is a complex artform composed of separate
art disciplines, conjoined with engineering and team work, and is similar to
film or theatre. It seems that this work is slowly nesting in spaces that were
projected or redecorated for experimental theatre years ago. Spaces with no
fixed stage or audience areas (unlike the traditional European theatre) - plain
"dark cubes" with construction for audio/visual equipment on the ceiling,
appear ideal for this kind of work.
Interactive installations are a category of electronic art, and in symposia or
festivals are difficult to exhibit due to their complexity. Most exist through
different types of representations - on the internet, on CD-ROM, in writings
and lectures. So, if we can't actually construct them, how to explain or
present them to a live audience, while being clear, but not too boring, or too
An interactive installation is not just an object. It has interaction as its
goal, and is concerned with abstraction and process. It is close to the theatre
in a number of respects.
An interactive installation emerges through its relation with "participants"
instead of an "audience". This changed role of the observer is another
difference that characterises the artform.
It seems that a new category of electronic art has emerged. Instead of trying
to compose a representation of a complex emotional experience, we should create
a new one! In other words, create a new work that will be a carrier of the same
basic idea and concept as the installation, having as a result an entirely new
form that will present the essence of the work.
To this end we have used texts, audio/visual explanations and samples that were
produced for other purposes, and have concentrated on creating a clear
expression instead of a literal explanation.
So how far does an idea need to mutate until it can be presented?
The so-called "project history" now becomes important as an additional text for
this purpose; it becomes an exciting story about the struggle for an idea, and
how to express and shape an original vision to share with the audience.