In interactive art, the irritation caused by the gap between the logic of the system and the interpretation of processes is an important element of the aesthetic experience. Just as a sense of agency cannot be considered a decisive factor in aesthetic experience, neither is aesthetic experience usually based on systemic emergence.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
The “Tale-Spin effect” denotes the converse situation. A very complex programming process is reproduced in such a simplified form that the complexity remains concealed from the recipient. Wardrip-Fruin’s name for this effect refers to a 1970s story-generating computer program whose highly complex algorithms could not be discerned by the users.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin analyzes more closely how these overlaps function. He examines the extent to which technically mediated interaction requires, enables, or facilitates insight into system processes. To this end, he differentiates three effects: the “Eliza effect,” the “Tale-Spin effect,” and the “SimCity effect.”
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Two examples of such projects are Golan Levin’s Double Taker (2008) and Opto Isolator (2007), both of which consist of artificial eyes that appear to observe the recipient. Although these eyes can register no more than the presence and position of a person, their behaviors are associated with living creatures and fascinate their viewers.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
The possibilities for involving the recipient diegetically, as well as the question as to his agency within the context of fictitious roles, lead us to another mode of experience: communication.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Often the recipient becomes the protagonist in the processes that are portrayed. Assigning a diegetic role to the recipient of a fictitious plot is also common practice in computer games and constitutes the point of departure for Brenda Laurel’s theory of interactive drama.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
In commercial media, the reception of hypermedia-based structures is usually contextualized as freedom of choice, because the available links contain clues to what is hidden behind them and thus enable the recipient to consciously decide whether or not to retrieve more information or assets. In many artistic projects, however, the recipient may be offered no information, or only misleading information, about the possible effects of his choices. As George Landow explains, the hierarchical tree-like or rhizomatic structures of hypertext must also be interpreted at the semantic level not only as links but equally as disruptions.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
We can distinguish between such interactions as either diegetic processes (located within the fictional world of the narrative) or extradiegetic processes (located externally to the narrative) that, in different ways, further, control, or comment on the actions that are presented.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
When interaction processes are connoted on a representational level, then, in addition to exploring or making creative use of the potentials for interaction, the exploration or configuration of the symbolic level also becomes relevant. I will denote this form of interaction as constructive comprehension.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
As soon as a recipient has become more familiar with the constituative rules of a system, he can explicitly use these for expressive creation, grasping his own actions as a creative activity.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin analyzes such forms of gradual understanding in relation to computer games. He cites Will Wright, the author of the game SimCity, who has observed attempts at “reverse engineering” in which players try to infer the constituative rules by exploring the different processes that can be carried out.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Myron Krueger has also dealt in depth with recipients’ efforts to explore interactive works, describing the artist’s position as an interactive dilemma.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Feingold comes to the conclusion that “interactivity is, in many ways, about affirmation of the human action by a non-human object, a narcissistic ‘it sees me.’ But beyond that, there is the desire for control, for mastery over the non-human entity.”
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
Often the observation of recipients conveys the impression that the reception amounts to no more than an attempt to fully grasp the work, its assets, or its functional principles—an attitude that many artists view very critically.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.
The recipient’s realization of an interaction proposition usually begins with procedures of experimental exploration. The recipient wishes to investigate the system presented to him, both with respect to its constituative rules and with respect to the assets that may be available. He wants to acquire an idea of the actions that are possible within the framework of the interaction system and of the results to which they may lead.
Kwastek, Katja. Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art. Trans. Warde, Niamh. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013.