[TISEA 1992] Video Paper: Mona Sarkis — Interactivity means Interpassivity


Terms such as ‘interactivity’, ‘virtual reality’, and ‘cyberspace’ are among the biggest buzzwords of technological progress, media and media-art. This paper challenges certain claims made in relation to the subject of ‘interactivity’ in media-art, and especially of the tenor and choice of words such formulations often invoke. The predominant view holds that by programming a computer and connecting it to an interface that can receive and translate special movements in its surrounding into information that can be understood by the computer – which subsequently performs certain parts of its program according to the functions triggered by the spectator’s movements – we are presented with a liberating ‘interactive’ work. Cybernetic ‘communication’ between the technical installation and its user is said to be achieved. The emphasis here is on ‘the technical installation’ and ‘the spectator’, not on ‘the programmer’ of the installation and its ‘user’. In my opinion there are two reasons for this particular slant. The first is not difficult: the technical deficiencies of interactivity are suppressedb y thec omputer industry, which of course needs to sell its products and therefore build up sophisticated superstructures and PR campaigns which can advertise the products capabilities.

  •  Mona Sarkis (Germany) is an artist who has won numerous awards in painting and interactive art and participated rn parlous international exhibitions. She has received grants from the Foundation Carrier, Paris, and from the ‘Studienstiftung des Deutches Volkes: Bonn’. She is currently working on a doctoral thesis on the use of video and computer onstage.

Full text (p 13-16)