The modal weight of an interactive and electronic artwork: relational materiality, distributed cognition and the actor-network

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Materialities and Networks

Presentation Title:

  • The modal weight of an interactive and electronic artwork: relational materiality, distributed cognition and the actor-network

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Generally, interactive and electronic artworks are conceptualised as essentially immaterial. That is, the digital artwork is a pure abstraction that lacks the physical properties that literally ground an artwork in the empirical world. In contrast, this paper maps the effects of interactivity in an electronic artwork as beholden to a whole range of material actors. This distributed effect is explained in terms of Actor-Network Theory. The combined outcome is that the supposed immateriality of digital artworks is in fact reconstituted with a kind of relational and informational materiality. Composed of, if not dependent on, the heterogeneous nature of a whole host of actors that sustains an artwork from production into exhibition and interaction. The events observed and experienced in many interactions involving the artwork suggest that materiality is present at every stage. The implication then is that wherever actors, cognition and materiality meet, a mutually catalysing and constituting relationship is likely to develop. Consequently, when an actor interacts with the artwork, there is a shift in relational matter and hence the way it is expressed in information materiality. Thus, meaning is co-enacted in relation with the affordances in place. This cumulative generation of meaning points to a distributed and collective expression of cognition that constantly blurs the distinctions between intention and material affordance in interactive artworks. Therefore, the description that follows demonstrates that meaning, cognition and action arise together with the modal weight of materials in interaction that then shapes the nature of the electronic and interactive artwork.

Venue(s):


Category: