RE: Boxer's trouncing of Boston Cyberarts festival

Posted by Jonathan Zalben | Fri Apr 29th 2005 2:42 p.m.

i am participating in the boston cyberarts festival with my installation particle playground (video at http://www.jonathanzalben.com), and i was upset about the reaction in the nytimes article. i cannot speak directly to those pieces mentioned, but i think you can see from the video of my piece (which contains touch sensitive monkey bars) that young children really enjoyed the interaction. there was learning and coordination involved as well. i noticed that older participants regardless of whether they liked the piece, were more interested in content and function than interaction with media, which is ultimately an essential part of what this art is about. i think it is difficult to separate out content and interaction and arrive at a meaningful experience. i am not sure what the age divide is and whether it is dependent on technological awareness, but i thought it would be interesting to point out how age in this particular case is a significant factor in enjoyment of art.
  • Matthew Mascotte | Fri Apr 29th 2005 3:17 p.m.
    jonathan-

    an interesting point you make. i curated
    a solo exhibition for Daniel Shiffman at
    the Savannah College of Art and
    Design in February of 2004.

    http://www.shiffman.net/scad/

    I was amazed at how naturally it seemed for children
    to engage Shiffman's interactive video pieces. I think most
    adults feel embarrassed and uncomfortable interacting
    with work in gallery settings...that uneasy feeling one
    has when you're selected from an audience to go on stage
    at a performace.

    I like your piece at BostonCyberarts perhaps we're seeing
    glimpses of future interactive art collectors in the making!!!!

    respects,

    Matthew

    On Friday, April 29, 2005, at 04:59PM, Jonathan <violinz@hotmail.com> wrote:

    >i am participating in the boston cyberarts festival with my installation particle playground (video at http://www.jonathanzalben.com), and i was upset about the reaction in the nytimes article. i cannot speak directly to those pieces mentioned, but i think you can see from the video of my piece (which contains touch sensitive monkey bars) that young children really enjoyed the interaction. there was learning and coordination involved as well. i noticed that older participants regardless of whether they liked the piece, were more interested in content and function than interaction with media, which is ultimately an essential part of what this art is about. i think it is difficult to separate out content and interaction and arrive at a meaningful experience. i am not sure what the age divide is and whether it is dependent on technological awareness, but i thought it would be interesting to point out how age in this particular case is a significant factor in enjoyment of a!
    r!
    > t.
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  • Plasma Studii | Fri Apr 29th 2005 4:32 p.m.
    >i am participating in the boston cyberarts festival with my
    >installation particle playground (video at
    >http://www.jonathanzalben.com), and i was upset about the reaction
    >in the nytimes article. i cannot speak directly to those pieces
    >mentioned, but i think you can see from the video of my piece (which
    >contains touch sensitive monkey bars) that young children really
    >enjoyed the interaction. there was learning and coordination
    >involved as well. i noticed that older participants regardless of
    >whether they liked the piece, were more interested in content and
    >function than interaction with media, which is ultimately an
    >essential part of what this art is about. i think it is difficult
    >to separate out content and interaction and arrive at a meaningful
    >experience. i am not sure what the age divide is and whether it is
    >dependent on technological awareness, but i thought it would be
    >interesting to point out how age in this particular case is a
    >significant factor in enjoyment of ar!
    > t.

    your observation, albeit a pretty subjective one, seems right on.

    but i'd hardly say the phenomenon describes interactivity vs.
    content, as much as about kids have fun playing, particularly
    learning from things that react to them differently than expected.
    adults' curiosity/method of exploring often shifts from
    tactile/visceral to more cerebral/observing. (i'd be curious how
    older people react to interactive pieces? like 60-80 year olds.).

    i suspect, with these larger installation/interactive works, what you
    are seeing are kids focusing on the activity, what they do, watching
    how the thing behaves (which does seem like the heart and soul of
    interactivity). but the adult, who may like some abstract pieces
    better or worse (not automatically love or hate all non-figurative
    work), will judge the quality of the piece by how good (in their
    esteem) the thing ends up looking. if they can then improve the way
    it looks in some way by interacting.

    they look at things like the color combos. the arbitrary blends that
    include a very linear mix from a standard red to a standard purple
    are just not gonna be visually stunning. if it's for adults, they
    expect to register something sensually (or conceptually) compelling.

    but more power to you. completely legitimate to make a toy (not
    decoration), a work for kids to play with. but to put anything in
    an art show is going to open it up to being scrutinized by adults.
    adults who have really different expectations/criteria, don't have
    the same impulsive curiosity, and particularly see the noun as
    opposed to the verb. maybe you just like playing, are more of a kid.

    matthew had a good point about people who resist interactivity when he cited

    ...that uneasy feeling one
    has when you're selected from an audience to go on stage
    at a performace.
  • Rob Myers | Sat Apr 30th 2005 2:10 a.m.
    On 29 Apr 2005, at 23:32, Plasma Studii - judsoN wrote:

    > but i'd hardly say the phenomenon describes interactivity vs. content,
    > as much as about kids have fun playing, particularly learning from
    > things that react to them differently than expected.
  • Plasma Studii | Sat Apr 30th 2005 10:06 a.m.
    >Don't underrate play. :-) It's how we learn socially.

    sorry if you thought i was. just the opposite.

    in fact, see toys probably having more of a legit function then art.
    but since the function of art is so astoundingly unclear, it's hardly
    a worthwhile issue at all. meanwhile, interactive pieces can easily
    have several essential qualities, usefulness, as art, and as a toy.
    it's just often programmers aren't thinking of all those things, and
    really just how the actual gizmos themselves work. fine, but not
    everybody's interested in the gizmos.

    >One problem with interactive art, and with hypertext, is the demands
    >it makes on the viewer. Giving the viewer "free rein" but with a
    >corresponding demand that they "do the right thing" risks the
    >artwork disappointing the audience, or the audience disappointing
    >the artist.

    agree. it's always a helpful notion to make the very first and
    constant thought of interactivity is "what do they get for their
    effort" then. avoid programming so any effort could be construed as
    "the wrong thing", just whatever input, gets variant output. that's
    just basic interface work.

    the real world just behaves how it does, no wrong/right, it's just
    harder to account for. we can fall short in accounting for it, but
    the world isn't always going to cover for our short comings. we
    can't realistically expect that.

    > This is part of the moral territory of interactivity, and is a
    >feature, not a bug. :-)

    sorry, rob, but this conclusion seems like it came from outer space.
    have no idea how you got there.
    --

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