An Invitation to DANCE: Making Sense of Viewer Interaction in Installation Art


Session Title:

  • Machinic Sense & Sensibility: Interaction and Embodiment

Presentation Title:

  • An Invitation to DANCE: Making Sense of Viewer Interaction in Installation Art



  • This paper addresses a case study into viewer interaction in the five-screen interactive dance film installation An Invitation to DANCE. Literature on the experience of dance suggests that dance film is set apart from dance performance due to the relative passivity of viewers of film. It is claimed that essential characteristics of dance are lost when dance appears on and for the screen, instead of being performed live. This paper questions that claim through an in-depth analysis of viewer behavior in the art installation An Invitation to DANCE, based on a case study that took place at TENT Rotterdam in May and June 2019. Our findings show that when dance film is distributed over multiple screens, which cannot be observed from one single position, viewers actively interact with them. As such, they allow for the participation, feeling, proximity, and corporeal relationship typical to dance performance. Therefore, this paper underscores that if strong distinctions between experiencing dance on film and in theatre can be made, they are more complex than viewership being active in the latter and passive in the first. Concluding our case study, we observe a necessity for more detailed situated audience research during artistic production processes of interactive artworks.