What is interactive art? Simply defined, interactive art is a type of installation that allows the audience or spectator to interact with the piece in a way that achieves its desired purpose. According to some, interactive art was first produced in the fifth century B.C. when Parrhasius created a painted curtain that Zeuxis tried to unveil. The work took its meaning from the gesture of the attempted unveil, and the piece would not have existed without said interactivity.
Modern works of interactive art are said to first be seen in the 1920s with a famous example of Marcel Duchamp’s piece named Rotary Glass Plates, which required the viewer to turn on the machine and stand at a distance. Interactive art as we know it today started to take shape in the '60s and '70s when artists began to incorporate new technology, such as computers and video, and experiment with live performances and interactions.
As new media has emerged and technology has become more accessible, interactive art has been shaped in recent years to enable audience and machine to interact easily to create the intended dialogue of the artists.
Types of Interactive Art
The forms and types of interactive art is very broad and vague. Essentially any piece of art where the audience is able to engage and interact with it directly is interactive art. The artwork is created to have its true meaning and intentions divulged when its interacted with.
The typical types of interactive art include interactive dance, music, or drama, new technology or computerized art, installation art, interactive architecture, and interactive film.
Famous Interactive Artists and Work
Maurice Benayoun is a Parisian interactive artist who was very interested in virtual reality art in the '90s. One of his pieces was even described as "the first Metaphysical Video Game.” His most famous piece was The Tunnel under the Atlantic, which allowed patrons to dig a virtual tunnel between Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal.
Thomas Charvériat is another Parisian interactive artist, but he specializes in using LED, video, SMS, light sensors, and sound to interact with the spectator, putting together everyday objects to produce interactive works.
Lynn Hershman Leeson is an American artist and filmmaker. One of her most famous works of art is called LORNA, which is the first interactive laser artdisk that tells the story of an agoraphobic woman that never leaves her room. Viewers had the option of directing her life into several possible plots and endings and could access information about her past through clicking on objects within the room.
Nathaniel Stern utilizes performance and video to develop his interactive art pieces. He also often asks his viewers to participate in his pieces by contributing their body movements. For example, his installation, enter:hektor had participants chasing projected words with their arms and bodies in order to trigger spoken word in the space.