1,2,3 Interactivity for me…
By Liat Shalom
The varying levels of interactivity change the role of the audience anywhere from viewer, to participant to creator.
In old mediums of art, the levels of interactivity are much lower than in what we would consider new media art. The growing technological advances allow us, as artist, to engage our audience in more ways than just traditional viewers.
As designers, we can differentiate between 3 main levels of interactivity: “Low”, “Medium”, and “High”. While “old media” can only offer a ‘sit-back’ type passive interaction,new media can be much more engaging to their audiences.
In “low interactive “ pieces, the viewer is put in the role of the audience.While they may have choice in the interpretation of the piece they have no other input into the work or the process itself.
Sand Art – Ilana Yahav – Let’s Get Together:(YouTube Vid)
In this example the artist interacts with the piece and makes it vivid and changing.The viewer, however, is left solely as an observer and has no input into the process.
As viewers, we can watch, but not change or affect the outcome of Ilana’s work.
“Medium level” interactive pieces allow the viewer to participate in the piece and have some influence in the way its used. While much of the work is predefined, The viewer may be able to make some choices for themselves, such as in a video game.
For example guitar hero:
Video of two friends playing guitar hero, Iron man by Ozzie Osborn on Guitar hero.
This is a good example of a “medium level interactivity” video game where the audience can change the levels of difficulty in which they play, can play competitively against each other, and choosing from the selection of songs that the game creator provided.
However, the audience cannot change, or write their own music in it and are limited to play only the preprogrammed songs, chords, and notes.
Other video games offer an even more interactive medium. Games, such as “The Sims” players can create their own environment, characters and really its their own little Utopia.
The Sims video:
While the audience is granted much freedom within the game , they are still limited tot he preprogrammed options provided by the creator.
In “high levels” of interactivity the artist often relinquishes control of the piece and takes on a more passive role.
As opposed to trying to manipulate the audiences viewing experience, he lets the viewer manipulate the piece. and become a part of the creative process as well as the end result.
Projects like the “Free Hugs Projects” are new media piece’s that involve the audience not only as viewers, but as part of the work itself by engaging the viewer to join in and become the artwork.
By the individual reactions of the viewers, the artist gives the emotional effect of the piece which creates the impact. This is an open ended piece where the final product is dependent on the free- thinking minds of participants while the creator sits back and in essence becomes the passive viewer.
Project free hugs video:
Here is another example of a project done for Susan Gorbetz’s class where we were asked to make a sign, stand in a public place and record peoples reactions.
I felt this was a highly interactive piece just from observing the interactions I had with people throughout that day.
As new media artists, we must learn to incorporate different levels of interactivity in our works and be aware of the level of involvement we allow our viewers. Interactivity can add much to the element of surprise and intrigue of the design which enhances the viewers experience .