[ISEA94] Paper: Maria Stukoff & Nicholas Gebhardt – The Time of Our Life: Interactivity and the Labyrinth of Forms


The new multi-media game? To attract, to win, to conquer? Or is it all just a big let down? Too often, the focus of the interactive event demands the viewer’s continuous absorption into a world where “there is no end.” But is this really the case? The multimedia labyrinth generates a seemingly endless series of permutations (in the form of audio or visual stimuli) in the relation between the viewer and these digitised worlds. Embedded within this emergent cyberspace, however, are structural assumptions that undermine and, in fact, dislodge the kinds of liberating practices the works seek to embrace and affirm. What then, does it mean to interact with digital information, and why is such importance attached to these new hi-tech landscapes? And what of the tendency within interactive electronic art to fetishize the technology and the surrounding language along established lines of consumption, and the obvious connections this has to more popular forms of entertainment?

More often than not, the technology supplants the concept as the determinant factor in the artistic process, and the artist emerges as a technician, committed to producing value through the multiplication of networks and of vast quantities of data. This process equates interaction with content and expression, to the point where interactivity is privileged over everything else in shaping the necessity of the work. Interactivity is perceived as the only possible way of engaging
human action with technology, subsuming all other media into its powerful aura. In a sense, it seems to have become the model for our understanding of the relation of people to technology, without really focusing on the potential for these processes to transform that relation beyond a recognition of a work’s technological resonance.

  • Maria Stukoff is an independent artist working with computer animated environments and Iive performance.
  • Nicholas Gebhardt is a radio producer, writer and a musician who is currently completing his Ph.D on jazz and modernity in the History Department, University of Sydney.