The History of the Interface in Interactive Art


Session Title:

  • Interactivity (The Next Generation)

Presentation Title:

  • The History of the Interface in Interactive Art



  • Abstract

    The design of the interfaces is still the most important aspect in the current discussion on interactivity. The historical development of the interface in Interactive Art can be read as a creative trial to find a satisfactory, aesthetic, or even ‘natural’ symbiosis between the user and the computer system. Contemporary interactive artists were the first who realized that the old antagonism between man and machine is increasingly losing its importance. In Interactive Art the interface functions as a metaphor for communication – or to be more precise: for dialogue. The computer system requires more ‘activity’ in the sense of engagement than other electronic media, and what is even more important it meets the user’s perceptive habits.

    Contemporary interactive artists are experts of perception as well as connoisseurs of pleasure. Since the late sixties they were establishing a new art form. The design of the interface in the work of artists like Myron Krueger, Jeffrey Shaw, David Rokeby, and others demonstrates this perfectly. Their work influenced the second generation of European artists, like Ulrike Gabriel, Christa Sommerer/Laurent Mignonneau, Joachim Sauter/Dirk Lüsebrink, Simon Biggs, Catherine Ikam, and Paul Sermon. Concerning the interface design and the situations of perception, it is
    useful to distinguish the above mentioned interactive works from the works of Lynn Hershman, Grahame Weinbren, Ken Feingold, and Bill Seaman who are working with video disc-technology and are using ‘non-immersive’ interfaces like touchscreens or the mouse. These two groups – environments and installations – represent not only two different trends in interactive art, but also two ways of commercial activities and scientific research. While the installations tend to create a private, intimate area, the environments create a public space. Thus in the future the interactive installations will function as a model for the design of interactive home TV-sets, while the interactive environments will shape the ways of communication in Virtual Reality.