[ISEA94] Panel: Henry See – Esthetics of Behaviour and Interactive Systems

Panel Statement

Panel: Eliza’s Children

Computer-based systems respond to input from a user/visitor/audience. This interaction between the system and an outside party gives rise to a number of ideas about these systems:

1) That they engender more creative participation of the part of the user than non-interactive systems.

2) That this behaviour is (can be) intelligent.

This paper looks at these questions from the perspective of behaviour. The behaviour of an interactive system is, as is the behaviour of any being or system, a description of that system’s
actions in relation to a certain environment. Behaviour is not something that the living being does in itself (for in it are only internal structural changes) but something that we point to. (Maturana & Varela) A being exhibits intellligent behaviour when it is seen to learn and adapt to the environment, when it is able to move outside of its previous actions and do something new and creative. Thus, behaviour is a description; it is attributed to a being by an observer. I will argue that when we attribute ‘behaviour’ to a machine, we are projecting our own behaviour outward. The Turing Test can tell us nothing about the machine. All it can tell us is about the human.

  • Henry See Media Artist, Organizing Committee ISEA95 (Montreal), visiting professor of computer art, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA.