[ISEA95] Panel: Kim Sawchuk & Catherine Richards – Ideologies of interactivity

Panel Statement

Panel: Ideology of Interactivity

“Ideologies of Interactivity” outlines and examines the term interactivity- a key reference point in the media arts, popular culture and technical discourses to describe the interplay between “an individual and an artificial intelligence system.” (Popper)                                                          Kim:
The terminology of interactivity functions, as Kenneth Burke writes, as a “terministic screen” that selects and deflects particular attributes of any phenomenon.                                     Catherine:
The contributors to the panel and the publication that will result, were requested to think through the language of freedom, choice and creativity frequently deployed in discussions of the topic.                                                                                                                                                    Kim:
In this rhetoric, interactivity is said to increase participation between viewers and the work. This is promoted as an enhancement of choice and hence individual freedom for the user/spectator. Because of this, interactive works are often said to be more accessible than other forms of art there by countering the elitism attributed to modern art.                                                      Catherine:
This project examines these premises and opens up the term interactivity to include considerations of power and control as they are related to aesthetic issues. We have
resurrected that unfashionable term ideology in our title, not as a means to reduce aesthetics to politics or politics to class or economics, but as a reminder of the inextricable connection between aesthetics and power.
And here power is not merely understood in its repressive sense, but as Michel Foucault argues, for its productive capacities as form of organization of space and time: technological environments design interaction and circumscribe choice. But choice is not the only issue. Artists projects that have an explicitely interactive element may map out its micrological functionings in late-capitalist culture rather than serving classically modernist ends tied to a
specific set of cultural values that echo a neo-liberal agendaat the level of the body, within the economic spheres of consumption and production, and at the political level of events.

  • Kim Sawchuk  (Canada) is a media theorist who writes on marketing research as well as on the media arts. Her media arts forays examine the political and artistic uses of on-line and electronic technologies. Her most recent work has been on the confluence between medical imaging and aesthetics. She teaches in the department of Communication Studies at Montreal’s Concordia University.
  • Catherine Richards (Canada) is a visual artist working in the domain of new technologies and the simulation of self. Her works have received awards as well as being exhibited internationally. She has written on the subject of new technologies, art and the body, and co-directed the Bioapparatus residency ’91 at the Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada).

Full text p.240-241