Monday, February 20, 2006


One day, technology's interactivity will be at a point to allow artists to create some of the greatest works we have ever seen. I can only imagine how sophisticated artists of the future will manufacture work that allows viewers to transform to participants. Instead of viewing or reading art, we will become active in its rendering.

Camille Utterback shares what I see. As she so narcissistically proclaims, “In this essay I discuss interactive works by myself and others that incorporate poetic rather than practical interfaces to text or spoken language.” I think the idea of the body interacting with artwork is great. It goes beyond using one or two senses and (has the potential) to pull in all five to experience artists' expressions. We are moving in that direction and I can’t wait to see what happens.

However, none of Utterback’s fabulous examples are anything to note. Her and others’ "artwork" really are nothing more than technical novelty. We are given conventional physical objects (i.e. a ladder, see-saw, mirror, video camera) and we use them to interact with text. TEXT RAIN, for example, is stupid and is something that I would expect to find at a mall in Carmel, “Using a video camera as an input device allows the letters in [TEXT RAIN] to respond to a wide variety of human gestures and motions.” How is dancing with text art? I was not impressed by the giant piano in BIG and I am not impressed by people dancing with text.

DRAWING FROM LIFE is neither art nor intelligent. Utterback attempts to make it sound impressive with complex sentences and by employing her diverse vocabulary, “Upon entering the installation space, participants encounter a live video projection of themselves, but their images are completely transformed [into DNA letter code]…By abstracting live imagery of a viewer’s body into the letters that compose DNA, the installation raises questions about our embodiment and the code that is both part of, and helps produce our “selves” ” She has to be kidding. Abstracting live imagery and having it redisplayed as DNA raises no questions, it just looks cool. This really is nothing special and is something that I would expect to find at a children’s museum. “…entering the installation space, participants encounter…” come on, you stand in front of a camera!

Unusual Positions – Embodied Interaction with Symbolic Spaces


Usual Positions – Neat, Yet Non-Clever Ways To Dance With Text: Video Installations that Represent By-Products from a Stage in the Evolution of Interactive Technologies and Belong in Every White – Middle Class Mall In America.

All flash and no substance. I hate this book.


At 11:52 AM, Blogger Taco said...

Thanks for the link to the website. WOW. It's worse than novelty, it's souvenir.

I went to Disney Land in LA my last semester of undergrad. There is a ride called Soarin' Over California that is an indoor ride. It contains a lot of what I would consider participant art, though not interactive. You're strapped into a chair and harnessed in. Then you are raised up and surrounded by video screens so you can only see video or the people on either side of you. Then you fly over all these areas of California, complete with surround sound and up/down left/right movements, and even experience smells of places like orange groves. It's quite amazing.'_Over_California

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Curtisgeist said...

Utterback is just being a visual artist giving staements of her work and her larger theme. She does this playfully, and clearly (compare to Cayley's density or Seaman's mania--after those two her article is like being kissed after a beating.) Her works would be fun, but I agree to an extent. In the last 50 years there have been myriad far cooler, more technologically impressive projects, that we are not priviliged to see and which are recorded only as essays in books like this, if at all.


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