Group Essay Question:
In your opinion, at which point does a piece of art become an interactive experience?
Art is a form of communication and appeals to your aesthetic sense evoking an emotional, physical or creative response. The audience visually interprets and perceives art in different ways. Art becomes interactive after a reaction occurs within the spectator appreciating the artwork. Nathaniel Stern believes art becomes interactive when it is an embodiment of moving, thinking and feeling (Stern, 2013, p.4). We are going to discuss various art forms in this essay which show in our opinion, when as a spectator you feel these expressions art becomes interactive.
Paintings are visually interactive and a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Many paintings can be interpreted to have different realities but almost at first glance they draw you in and leave the spectator to decipher how they perceive the artwork. For example, Picasso’s The Girl in the Mirror (1932) (fig.1) can be interpreted in different ways and therefore visually you begin interacting instantly. Do you see the young woman or the old one? Are they two different women or an aged reflection of the younger one? The rearrangement in the reflection makes the image look like a ghostly and fearsome figure of a human being (Gottleib, 1966, p.509). Picasso believed understanding art arose from a visual engagement with the piece (D’Alleva, 2010, p.61). Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) (fig.2) is another example of a painting that emotionally involves you. Questions come spiraling towards you because there seem to be so many contradictions in the painting. Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (1533) (fig.3) instantly entices you because of the distorted shape that has to be viewed from the correct angle to interpret that it is a skull. This anamorphic technique has been revised to create breathtaking optical illusional 3D art.
3D street art creates an illusion of height and broadness on a 2D horizontal plane. It can be viewed from different angles and therefore physically requires you to interact with the artwork. The individual’s perception enhances their physical interaction and they can simultaneously interact with the artist. The audience feels as if they are part of the creation. Kurt Wenner’s Dies Irae (2011) (fig.4) emotionally involves you with the anguish you can see but physically you feel as if you are falling into the hole or it can be perceived as the spectator wanting to grab hold of the humans and rescue them. 3D sculptures that create a 2D illusion confuse the senses. They make the mind boggle and the spectator interacts instantly. Neil Dawson’s Horizons (1994) (fig.5) has to be viewed from the correct angle and position to interpret the artist’s sculpture.
These works of art are interacted with depending on the perception of each individual and the reality they perceive. Today much digital art is created specifically for interaction. Christiane Paul states that today the artist is not the sole creator for a work of art but a facilitator for the audience’s interaction with and contribution to the artwork (Paul, 2008, p.21). Often the audience has to interact immediately with the artwork to create the final piece. Jeffrey Shaw’s The Legible City (1989) (fig.6) required the spectator to ride a stationary bike to navigate around a city of simulated 3D letters forming text. You became part of the creative process, as you would have to interact with the installation to understand the artist’s work.
In our opinion art becomes interactive almost immediately. As shown this interactivity can be emotional, physical or have a creative process. Creativity is turning imaginative ideas into reality and perceiving these in new ways. All art forms are a creative medium and require all your senses, emotions and physical attributes to view and consequently interact with them bringing the art alive as it was in their creators minds. Viewers speak for the works. Art is not a body of works but is, rather, an activity of perceivers making sense of images. This position is called reception theory (Barnet, 2015, p.24).
The work of art is above all a process of creation, it is never experienced as a mere product (Paul Klee) (Honor and Fleming, 2009, p.863)
Barnet, S. (2015) A short guide to writing about art. 11th edn. New Jersey: Pearson
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D’Alleva, A. (2010) How to write art history. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd
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Gottlieb,C. (1966) The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Vol. 24, No.4. America: Wiley
Paul, C (2008) Digital Art. Revised and expanded edition. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson
Stern, N. (2013) Interactive art and embodiment: the implicit body as performance. Canterbury: Gylphi Limited.
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The girl in the mirror, 1932
Jan Van Eyck
The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434
The Ambassadors, 1533
Dies Irae, 2011
The Legible City, 1989