Bandwidth: Interactive Installation, an exploration of Integrated Media Art


Presentation Title:

  • Bandwidth: Interactive Installation, an exploration of Integrated Media Art



  • Bandwidth is an interactive exhibit that requires audience participation to be fully realized; blurring the boundaries between art installation, computer game and performance. There are three factors that make Bandwidth an interesting exhibit for academic discussion and study. First, Bandwidth is an example of the newly emerging field of Integrated Media Arts, a term which Victoria Gibson started using in 2007 to define her artistic practice. Secondly, the exhibit demonstrates how artists with little programming knowledge can utilize commonly available electronic components to realize a complex, interactive system that uses gesture control. Thirdly, Bandwidth encourages exploration of the social factors involved with audiences enjoying art through active participation, facilitated by technology, contrasted with passive viewing.
    Integrated Media Art is defined by Gibson as a multidisciplinary art form that utilizes computer technology as an essential component of the work. The concept of integrated media arts originated as a response to the fusing of multiple artistic disciplines. Bandwidth exemplifies this emerging field as it pairs graphic designs with music, animated within a computer program that allows direct, real-time modification. Many artists use computers to extend or facilitate their artistic practice, as sophisticated software enables design and execution of tasks to be accomplished efficiently; but, they could create their work without the use of the computer.
    The Bandwidth exhibit could not be constructed, controlled or viewed without the use of computer technology, so exemplifies this qualification of integrated media art. Further academic exploration of Gibson’s definition, and discussion on developments in the newly emerging field of Integrated Media Art, are areas where peer review is required.
    Bandwidth demonstrates how an artist can design and realize an exhibit utilizing leading edge technology with some programming support. In 2010, Victoria attended the Summer Lab at EMPAC, located on the campus of RPI in Troy, NY; to learn the Isadora program. After extensive research, she had decided that the program Isadora would best fit her artistic vision and she brought Arduino control components for testing. The technology used to create the interactive control of the exhibit is inexpensive and commonly available. In the one week lab, Gibson was able to construct and present Bandwidth as a work-in-progress that included a working gesture control element. Thanks to her colleague, Victor Zappi, PhD candidate, who programmed the Arduino sketch, and software support by Mark Coniglio, the creator of the Isadora program, Gibson was able to realize her vision.
    The social expectations of computer assisted art forms become an interesting area of enquiry as Arduino and the Kinect control make inexpensive interactive abilities available. In traditional animated media, such as film, the moving images solidified on recorded media to provide a repeatable experience that could only be viewed by passive audiences. The concept of ‘visual music’, pairing abstract images with music, was explored on film by Norman McLaren and others who were pioneers in this field in the 1950’s. Today, Bandwidth describes the joining of images and music in a 21st century language that allows each performance to be a unique, user-controlled expression.
    As integrated media delivery systems become more interactive and user controllable, the dividing lines between game, performance and art installation become more difficult to define. The theory of passive/active mass audiences viewing may change, as the expectation of increased interactive control, widely available on personal computing devices, expands into other areas.