Can We Evaluate Interactive Art?


Session Title:

  • Interactive Media Theory

Presentation Title:

  • Can We Evaluate Interactive Art?



  • Every creator in the electronic arts is faced with the puzzle of becoming understood and recognized by inappropriate out-of-date institutions set up to evaluate and present their work. Many of these institutions developed their processes to handle a very different kind of work: often paintings, movies, etc. This paper describes the discoveries of a two year effort to create an international competition for electronic interactive media which started from several challenging assumptions:

    1. no attempt would be made to discriminate art from not-art;
    2. there would be no distinction of the technologies employed… only the content would be considered;
    3. any representation other than the interactive experience itself would be considered insufficient; to allow evaluation of the work.

    The unique competition process of the Interactive Media Festival of 1994 will be discussed with the aim of raising issues critical to electronic artists:

    1.     deflating the influence of the social common denominator, emphasizing individuality;
    2.     disempowering critics whose influence is unfairly great and whose thinking hinders change;
    3.     deflecting the dominance of consumer sensibility in media art;
    4.     encouraging new and even unpopular creativity; and
    5.     spreading an appreciation of new ideas successfully through existing channels.

    The 1994 Interactive Media Festival was designed to permit a public appreciation of some of the most excellent examples of interactive content of its day; but more importantly (and less obviously) it was thoughtfully created to encourage a healthy openness via a process of NOT defining what is electronic art before its time. In this spirit, my remarks are offered for consideration and discussion.