[ISEA98] Panel: Scott Oram – Five Miles of liquid tire: Making Sense of Spectacle, looking, and Illuminated Art in Blackpool (1879 – 1998)

Panel Statement

Panel: Visual Languages

Despite recent efforts by the media to reassure the public that ‘Computers Don’t Bite’, technophobia remains a very real problem for those producers, manufacturers etc. who crave interactive response en masse to the electronic arts. Fears of dystopian ‘virtual’ futures only serve to reinforce (potential) consumer concerns about the breakdown of real communities and allied risk of isolation. Widespread fears of new technologies, are, ofcourse, not new concepts with which to deal; and history is useful in pointing the way to a means of acceptance, via design, which has allowed the consumer to: interact with; feel comfortable with; and, ultimately, make sense of many electronic innovations. By using Blackpool Illuminations (1879 – 1998) as a case study, this paper will argue that the ‘first’ revolution in the electronic arts in Britain owed much of its acceptance by the people to an interblend of spectacle; extended community participation and popular imagery.

For interactivity with the electronic arts to take place on a mass scale, there must also be willing ‘consumer’ participation on a mass scale – perhaps a re-visitation of the value of spectacle, therefore, might provide one of the channels through which the technophobe might enter and engage more ‘comfortably’ with the ‘second’ electronic arts revolution.

  • Scott Oram (UK)¬†Liverpool John Moores University