De-Coding Interactive Art: The Impact of 3 Decades of Academic Research in the Taxonomy of Digital Works of Art


Session Title:

  • Theory and Criticism of Interactivity in Electronic Art

Presentation Title:

  • De-Coding Interactive Art: The Impact of 3 Decades of Academic Research in the Taxonomy of Digital Works of Art




  • This paper attempts taxonomy of interactive and non interactive screen-based spectacles based on the application of anthropological criteria in the analysis of specific technological works of art.

    After an introduction in the notion of solicitation of the spectator and the real and playful engagement in a simulated world, we describe existing digital works of art and we point out their common technical characteristics (interaction perimeter, etc.) and the way they address the user-spectator. Non interactivity, interactive confrontation and interactive immersion are depicted as the main axes of solicitation, while the corporal response of the user (face, hand and motricity following Andre Leroi-Gourhan) permits the set up of functional taxonomy for the described artworks.

    Interactive installations are often studied in the light of recent developments in cognitive science and human-computer interaction techniques to consider innovative aspects of the interactivity. It is useful however to apply notions from the disciplines of presentation and representation (psychology, anthropology, mise-en-scene) to establish the virtual environments in the continuity of technology based spectacles and understand that the foundation of the interactivity lies in the simulated space-time mechanism that already proved its power in the case of  mechanically or electronically reproduced simulated environments.

    The theoretical discussion provides the background for the classification of the digital works of art in categories, useful for the establishment of an international database that is undertaken with the collaboration of four academic laboratories from Greece and France. In order to broaden this research, the Greek-French consortium aims to organize a workshop during ISEA 2011. Emphasis is given to include in the database the majority of digital works of art analysed in various academic symposia and workshops during the last 3 decades.