World at Play

Curated by Christopher Osborn
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My daughter crawls across the floor to check out a new pair of socks she has just spotted. My son picks up a empty soda bottle and tips it upside down, dripping drops of cola over my desk. The urge to play with our environment starts out immediately after the shock of being born. Our curiosity is inborn.<BR> There reaches a point when our environment is relatively stable. We can walk, speak, feed ourselves, understand jokes - and it is one of the responsibilities of the artist to make the world new - so we can play with our environment again, for the first time. Here in this exhibit are works of art that interact with our world, invite us to interact with a different world or break our expectations on how we see our own world. <p> 'Interactive Art' is long established and well developed. In the early 80's a very basic computer program called "Eliza" which was an early example of a computer actively interpreting our responses to interact with humans in their own world. In the last few years the use of computers and networking has brought a new level of interaction to the artform by way of incorporating extensive database libraries and programs to predict and model behavior (Eric Socolofsky's work is a particularly good example of this use of computer modeling).<BR> Computer games and children's entertainment work the other direction and invite the participant to enter into a constructed environment to interact with a system on its terms. Chris Joseph's "Eisenstein's Monster" (a inside-joke reference to Montage Editing) and Alexander Mouton "Epiglobis" show how a simple set of rules builds a creative space to play with.<BR> Artists have been actively working to break viewers expectations for as long as their have been people to look at the artwork. It is the highest calling of most serious artists to give life new meaning - or at the very least a new perspective - on the world people drift through. Since the mid-1800's with the Impressionist movement an extraordinary trend has been built to push people out of "normal perspective" and make the attempt to touch something deeper, more immediate - to evoke a response or shift in viewers attitudes. Pascual Sisto's "28 YEARS IN THE IMPLICATE ORDER" is exactly this break with expectations - done in the apparent world of the pre-photographic continuum (the "real world") - by establishing what seems to be perfectly normal physics, and then pushes you to look closer at a image that cannot possibly exist.<p> Wikipedia gives a basic (if incomplete) overview of the concept of <A HREF = "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive\_art">interactive art</A> - as opposed to 'Generative Art' (also a form often employed in electronic/computer art using math or algorithms to "generate" an artwork).<BR> Because of the nature of the artform as one of exploration, many of the interactive possibilities are incorporated into children's exhibits. A great example of interactive art is seen in the <A HREF = "http://www.nga.gov/kids/zone/">National Gallery of Art's Kid Zone</A>.<BR> For a terrific permanent site that specializes in interactive art exhibits - look at <A HREF = "http://www.artinteractive.org/show\_previous.php">Art Interactive</A>, a Cambridge art gallery dedicated to "...creating a public forum that fosters self-expression and human interaction..."

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