Dimensions of interaction


1. Constellations


The interaction lab is a workshop for the manufacture of instruments and models that allow the processes and results of the interactive work to be described. The instrumentarium or tool kit offers a vocabulary and methodologies that can be used by creative people coming from different disciplines. In addition, it offers a model that shows the different constellations of interactive ways of working. The authors of this manifesto provide a vocabulary and link ideas and reflections about art and interaction from different angles, namely those of design, theater, music, sound and movement arts, architecture, science, computer science and media art.


. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the interest in interactive art and its methods, time frames and modes of participations has grown steadily, both among practicing artists and scientists as well as curators and institutions. However, each discipline (as well as each individual practitioner) has its own ideas and its own language to describe interactive phenomena. There are no generally accepted criteria. As a result, there are also few agreements in communication between practitioners from various disciplines and media arenas. The constellations and central elements of the interactive processes are therefore often misunderstood.


Our instrumentarium tries to make the methods of interaction transparent for practitioners, curators, institutions, and the interested public. In the further development of interaction art the distinctiion artist/audience also falls away or is proclaimed to be dissolved. A new "work" concept of performance and virtuosity arises. It is our mission to contribute to the development of artistic and scientific exploration of virtuosic interaction - in the era of precarious labor - in order to support a more subtle criticism and a deeper discourse on interactive works and projects in the present and future cultural scene..


What is interaction ?


We understand interactive work as a kind of higher-level or meta-discipline – a method that affects other disciplines and the creative industry. Interactive working methods can be applied to many different disciplines and creative processes. There is social interaction in everyday life everywhere, and it stands for communication, dialogue, interaction-action, exchanges and cooperation. In the artistic sector interaction increasingly takes the form of constellations including the viewer or user in actuating the interactive work fundamentally, thus requiring active users. "Works" without the participation of the user therefore would not exist, they would not emerge. The recipient is equally performer, actor and interactor.

At the same time, these participatory methods have their own qualities and concepts for interactive experimental setups based on "rules" or game forms as a prerequisite for the application of digital systems with carefully programmed feedback processes. As a starting constellation, questions arise for each practitioner at the beginning of the interactive process, namely how the form of an interactive project is selected as the participation invitation is designed for recipients, which context the interaction has, which possible experiences or perceptions others might have who come into contact with the work, and what social effects such contacts and feedback processes set in motion. At the beginning of each interactive work, the practitioners confront decisions about how the context for the interaction is to be decisive and immanent, and how the “applied” dispositif of the interaction is structured to be experienced performatively.


What does interaction want ?


2. Intentions

In many interactive artworks, the potential for interaction, i.e. the actual forms of interactivity that take place between the viewer/user and work, is foreshadowed or anticipated by the designers and programmers. In this case, the interactive work is designed to the effect that the interaction emerges to take place as intended by the designer. However, not every detail and the emerging characteristics of an interaction can be foreseen. Another variant is that the designer configures potential forms of interaction, but it does not determine or control them specifically.

In this case, the constellation is open, and accordingly less structured. We could say, in this case, the interactions are deliberately open and "unformulated." They are designed as an open potential; their realization is not overdetermined by the designer. This form of interaction art usually leaves many possibilities of articulation and experience open, including such that were not intended by the designer. The open system is unstable, dynamic, and unpredictable. From the perspective of the user it can be said that there are interactions that appear intentional, there are others that are unwanted, or that somehow evolve, intentionally or unintentionally, or are emergent in such a way that the user does not realize how they arise. There may, for example, be interactions that were intended by the designer, but the user is completely unconscious of intentions and causes. Or there may be an interaction that the designer could not have foreseen, but was deliberately chosen by the user.

3. Matrix

In an interactive constellation, for example an exhibition or installation, the correlation between the intention of the design and the interactions that take place, appears mapped out. The matrix of the programming can be used retrospectively to illustrate the various phases of interactive work or the interactive process. During the interactive process, the intentions can generate very different meanings or perceptions for each user. A specific interaction may not be wanted at a certain moment, but in other situations; an unforeseen interaction can be recognized and reflected upon by the designers, and thus influence the ongoing design process or open the space for yet further unknown possibilities of interaction.

The matrix of the constellation proposes interaction behavior to the user in relation to the work or the system behavior. However, it cannot specify a precise form of interaction for each individual user. It can not define which form of interaction is relevant to a user or emotionally or aesthetically resonant. If a matrix could predict the behavior of many different users, it would have to be able to distinguish between the many different recipients/users. That is, the design of a matrix for interaction must reflect and evaluate the user behavior in order to respond to the different reactions. The expectations of the designer can be qualified accordingly, and the system should be fluid, variable, modifiable and intelligent. The system learns from the user actuating the program.




(c) Interaktionslabor 2008