Making Interactive Art: Set the Stage, Then Shut Up and Listen


“If you want an actor to offer an authentic emotional performance, you can’t tell him what to think or what to do. You can suggest intentions, but you can’t give him interpretations…He’ll discover the statement you’re looking to make through that conversation you have in rehearsal, and the resulting expression will be your collaborative effort,” Tom claimed.

Being an artist, we are so used to explain the interpretation behind the artwork. The art piece is our result of our thought-processing and development, which is not understandable most of the time and it could be very abstract relationships. In ITP and interactive design world, I realized that interactive artwork is a whole different system than fine art. In the interactive artwork, we design the user experience which is in a third-person perspective to observe our own project.

When Tom said the interactive artwork is like a finished painting or sculpture, I could relate to that very easily. The audience is part of the project’s component, and they completes your work. It was simple to express art in a finished painting, but sharing that experience with someone could be difficult yet immersive. The way user interacts with the projects could provoke deeper thoughts of theirs and discover the designer’s story, and the amazing emotional resonance.

Recently, I finally visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum and was amazed by the interactive pen. We drew, we copy and we create through the interactive pen. No one told us what to do or create with the pen, the process of creating things freely is what I love the most in the experience. Interactive artwork has open answers for everyone, it does not tailor to one audience but communicate with them.

The metaphor of directing actors illustrate very well for me about planning interactivity. I have directed films and photography but I always have the problem of the urge to have the right response. After reviewing Tom’s metaphor of directing actors, now I understand more of the psychological way in directing people’s thoughts.




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