Panel: Slowness: Responding to Acceleration through Electronic Arts
Interactivity permeates the design and contemporary art worlds more and more every day. The phrase “interactive art” is still unfixed, its form still novel, and yet certain tropes have already fallen into place. One problem seems to recur over and over: viewers very rarely engage in slow, thoughtful exploration of interactive work. Technological systems invite fascination with their materiality and uncanny abilities, and produce a dominant urge to reveal or decode the interaction itself, rather than the meaning of its enclosing work. We could call this the “hand-waving effect”: a viewer’s first impulse is to “figure it out,” superficially engage with it in order to produce the reaction, and then all too often simply move on. In other words, it’s over too fast. Is this the viewers’ fault, the artworks’, or something deeper and more intrinsic? This presentation will examine this issue in two parts. First, I will frame a theoretical debate about what is and is not unavoidably inherent to technologically-enabled work. A common and justified criticism of such work is that it is over-concerned with the new; is it the role of the artist to grapple with this? Second, I will show examples of my own work that attempt to work with and against the challenges of interactivity. Several sculptures and works of installation art will be shown that use technology together with traditional materials to encourage slowness in the viewer while retaining the dynamic involvement of interactivity. The presentation will conclude with a synthesis of sorts: an open discussion of how the theoretical overlaps with real-world human behavior.
- Eric Forman is a New York, USA, based artist working with interactive sculpture, robotics, and responsive installations. His work crosses boundaries between fine art and design, combining the subversive and the functional. Eric is currently an Adjunct Professor in the graduate Digital+Media department at RISD, and soon at SVA’s new Interaction Design MFA program. He also teaches at Pratt, MICA, and the School of Architecture at Columbia University. He received his Masters in 2002 from ITP at Tisch School of the Arts (NYU), and his B.A. from Vassar College in 1995 where he developed his own interdisciplinary program called The Philosophical Ramifications of Computer Technology. Eric also runs Klank Studios, a technology consultancy providing over 20 years of experience with new media, and is the co-founder of BioArt New York, a collective pairing artists and scientists for unusual collaborations. And he likes to ride a bike.