Culture№ 1 July 2018
Interactive art has arrived and is here to stay. Modern audiences want to be more than exhibition visitors or spectators at a play – they want to be participants in the act.
One explanation for the rise of interactivity is competition for audiences. Almost every type of cultural entertainment displays a trend that experts have dubbed "going public". Museums, theatre, cinema, quests and creative groups are all in competition with each other, as well as with new mobile technologies, for the attention of audiences.
There are many outstanding interactive projects. T Visionarium, an installation led by media pioneer Jeffrey Shaw, holds a special place on this list. Several data streams were projected onto a cylindrical screen and viewers inside the installation could travel around a whole variety of content, and "direct" their own narrative. "The project may seem primitive nowadays, but it was an important milestone," says Ksenia Khrabrykh, the artistic director of Interactive Art Studio in St Petersburg.
T Visionarium, an installation led by media pioneer Jeffrey Shaw, holds a special place on this list
It is worth noting two projects in the field of interactive cinema. The creators of the thriller Inside Experience uploaded the heroine onto Facebook, collected followers and let the narrative be led by what they wrote. Another film experiment, Late Fragment, released on DVD, invites viewers using a game console to "unravel" the stories of its three main characters.
All types of interactive art can endlessly combine with one another to produce completely new forms. "It is not enough for people to be mere observers: they need to be a part of something – an event, an action or a process. When they enter the interactive dimension, all channels of perception come alive, offering a new emotional experience, which is what many people today lack," says psychologist Tatyana Kaluzhenina.
Examples of interactive art are plentiful – one might think of the Gesamtkunstwerk concept of Richard Wagner, the Manifesto of Futurism, the ideas of the Dadaists and visual art practices of the early 20th century, the biomechanics of Vsevolod Meyerhold, or the literary experiments of James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov. However, interactivity as a prevalent feature of different art forms is a phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st.
In the literary world, the interactive trend takes the form of ergodic literature – books that demand effort from the reader who must, for example, choose how the plot is to develop. An interesting example is S, a book by writer J.J. Abrams and film director Doug Dorst. It is a fictional work purporting to have been written in 1949, but the key point of interest are the page margins, which contain notes scribbled by student readers attempting to decipher the book’s content.
In 2014, an exciting industry project was implemented as part of a joint project involving Metalloinvest, the National University of Science and Technology MISiS (NUST MISiS) and the Moscow Polytechnic Museum. ‘Zhelezno!’, an educational and career guidance exhibition centre, was launched on the grounds of the Stary Oskol branch of NUST MISiS.
In addition to a wide-ranging on-site exhibition, the installation of modern multimedia equipment led to the creation of a large metals and mining exhibition, covering various aspects of the industry. The centre’s students can see for themselves the processes of iron ore mining and processing, beneficiation, the production of pellets, pig iron, and steel smelting. Online access is provided to all industry-related information. In only the first year after its opening, approximately five thousand students enjoyed the exhibition. ‘Zhelezno!’ has become a platform for research and methodology seminars and trade conferences, lectures and practical classes for students.
The Educational and Career Guidance Exhibition Centre ‘Zhelezno!’has become a true landmark of Staryi Oskol
In 2016, the businessman Alisher Usmanov, in collaboration with the Russian charity Art, Science and Sport created a theatrical project entitled Invisible Performances. The production is in "6D". There is no visual component. The viewer (or rather, listener) experiences the performances through sounds, smells and tactile sensations. It is like being in the pages of an animated audiobook. The project was initially intended for people with visual disabilities, but has caught the imagination of a wider audience and is now an art form in its own right, performed to audiences wearing blindfolds. The production has been performed at various venues, including museums such as the Garage Museum of Modern Art [a leading contemporary art venue in Moscow], which has a partnership with the Art, Science and Sport foundation.
These forms of interactive art do not even make up half of those currently in existence. These are just the ones that are, figuratively speaking, visible to the naked eye. Add to the equation immersive performances, interactive networks (web museums, net art), music projects, virtual, augmented and mixed reality (VAMR) projects, as well as those which have no name yet, and you’ve got a whole galaxy. Perhaps several galaxies.
The Infinite Ear exhibition, which the Garage Museum of Modern Art plans to open in the summer of 2018, promises to break new ground in interactive art. Its main component is "performative mediation" prepared by three authors – a writer, a choreographer and a sensory experience specialist. Visitors will be shown around by 15 people, half of whom are deaf.
"This project cannot be called interactive in the classic sense," said Anastasia Mityushina, curator of public programmes at the Garage Museum of Modern Art. "The involvement and the intensity of the experience will be much deeper and stronger. The mediation will happen for each person who comes to the exhibition and it will be a unique experience."
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