Panel: Playing for Keeps: Social Empowerment Through Physically Interactive Artworks
This paper is a review into experiences with creating participatory physical play areas as interactive art works within the semi-public spaces of museums and galleries. The audience improvised play takes place within an art work employing sound environments, robots and bouncy castles with interactive audioscapes. Art historically, the practise incorporates strategies from political activity to visual, performative, sound and media arts as well as role playing games. It is closely related to various forms of time, site and locatation based genres like happening, performance, social forms of art, and larping – as much as media arts practises. In this setting, art turns into a stage, a platform for improvised social and physical interaction. In this approach, the media technologies are given a secondary, supplementary task in enhancing the audience interaction rather than a primary focus as the reason d’étre in channelling the aesthetical experience. The audience role has radically changed from the conventional oculo-centric Cartesian viewer position to a social and multi-sensory agent who is both a participant and a performer in action. The act of becoming visible, taking a central stage within the art work and the context of institutionalised practise of art posits is a radical shift in the socially normative public spaces. As a topsy-turvy active situation, it challenges and transforms the discursive power relations sustained and renewed in daily practise by the institutional order.
- Merja Puustinen works as artist, curator, researcher, lecturer and producer. She is based in Espoo, Finland. She has a background in sculpture, video and installation art. She has studied philosophy and sociology at Helsinki University. Since 1993 she has collaborated with interactive media art performances, network projects and installations in collaboration with her partner Andy Best. They were amongst the first online web artists, and during the mid to late 1990’s worked with virtual multiuser 3D worlds on the internet. With their company Meetfactory they developed a 3D multiuser community platform and virtual pet or tamagotchi for mobile phones. They now concentrate their artistic activites on large scale installations and interactive works. Merja Puustinen is completing her PhD research on interactive media art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki. She is particularly interested in combining art, architecture and interactive computer and sensor technologies to recreate physical experiences and elements of play for the end user within the institutional framework of art.