Journal 1

Our society has become so dependent on technology that we ourselves have even wondered that perhaps the very thing has taken our society to such great heights cound in fact be our demise. From the Y2K scares across the world to the rise of the machines in Hollywood films such as The Terminator; our society knows the extent of our dependency on technology and what could happen if it were to backfire. However, with all the warning signs and premonitions that exist, we still choose the path of technology. Even artists are expanding their horizons into the realm of technology, and more specifically in this case, interactivity. In the article, "The Poetics of Interactivity," author Margaret Morse addresses the definition of interactivity. The explanation that caught my attention was the statement she quoted, "interactivity now means too many things." Different people have different views on what counts as interactive works and what does not, and no two people are required to have the same outlook on what is considered interactive art and what is not, just like the unresolvable question, "what is art?" When I hear the phrase "interactive art" a lot of things come to mind. I think of any piece of artwork that the viewer can become involved with in a step above simply viewing or listening. In art exhibits, when pieces are labeled "interactive" I have just come to automatically assume that the viewer is able to "participate" in the instillation in some way. With this in mind, I have often considered websites as interactive art. Not all websites are not outside my definition of interactive art in that many of them were designed to give aesthetic impression to the audience and also requires the audience to participate by navigating throughout the site and interacting in a variety of ways. On the same note, I also consider video games a form on interactive art. Although some may not agree, the viewer is still receieving an aesthetic experience as well as interacting with the game. "Playing" is still interacting although it could be considered a different form or degree. Morse explains three different degrees of interacting. The first being minimal interaction which would be like a calculator. The second being interaction that allows the user a choice among a set of preestablished narrative outcomes like a website that you can navigate through and choose where within the website you would like to go. An artist's website, such as my own, in which the viewer can browse through and view the various pages would fall under this second category. The third form of interaction allows the user to alter the final form of the artwork. For example, an exhibit I once saw that allowed the user to apply paint effects to an image of themselves to see what they would look like 30 years later. Lynn Hershmann has a website that has a good example of this kind of interaction. Her interactive instillation, "Paranoid Mirror" is a sensor-driven enviroment that transforms the user into the interface. It is a very interesting artistic piece and successful in my eyes. I believe that art is made to draw viewers in and in this piece, it literally does; which is what sets interactive art appart from traditional medium. It provides and edge, like an additional dimension. The viewer is able to interact with the piece and see an image of themselves a feat that is not attainable in other mediums. One important factor that Morse proposed that was very interesting to me was the concept of "immersion"; "imersion as sinking into a fantasy world." From Morse's examples, and Hershmann's instillation, it seemed to me that the goal of many interactive instillations is to draw the viewer into the so called fantasy world (like the Char Davie's example where the viewer to use their breath to navigate up or down in virtual space) to the fullest extent possible. Being wary of our dependency on technology myself, it scares me to think of our capabilities in interactivity that we have today. Morse also explains the difference between the prefix "inter" and "intra": "Inter" joining what is other or different together, and "intra" meaning connections or links within the same entity. With this in mind I hope that interactivity remains interactivity and does not somehow transform into "intra-activity" where humans are able to become so involved with technology and computers that their cognitive processes become one. What a risk this dependency would become!

Journal 2

In Chapter 3: Themes in Internet Art from the text "Internet Art," author Rachel Greene explores several different net art projects from databases to games to sights that simply attempt to communicate ideas. One such sight that was particularly interesting is New Zealander-born artist Josh On's "They Rule" (2001). "They Rule" is comprised of a technically database type set up which is a searchable program that allows users to interact with different categories concerning information about corporate board members of 2004. The first interactive face is a sort of flowchart or diagram which allows the user to choose a corporate company which is reprsented with an icon of a conference table. The conference table then prompts three actions the user can choose from: one displays the directors of the corporate company, another allows the user to search the company on the web, and the last connects the user to the company's website. If the user chooses to click on the directors, icons of business men and women surround the conference table in a web like fashion. Clicking on these directors will give the companies that are also run by that director, leading into more conference tables and a giant entaglement of coporate companies and directors. This site is very interesting and can definately draw the user into the giant web maze. The icons and web like design are very appropriate to the subject matter being portrayed. The webs appear very corporate, accenting the theme of the site. The site also provides links to search engines and the actual corporate websites; elements that adds to its technically database type set up and easibility for the user to find information. On perhaps the opposite side of the spectrum from a giant corporate mix up is Melinda Klayman's "Sushi Fight." This site is actually a game the user can play. In the game, a sushi girl must combat sea creatures. The user must click on the sushi girl's flower at the right time to attack. If the sea creature wins, it will grow large, however if the user wins, the sushi girl will grow large. As the site declares, it is "cute and bizarre." The animation is well done and the figures have almost a cut and paste feel that I believe is appropriate for the media. This goes to show what a range net art can cover. It seems as though user interaction is the only element that both "They Rule" and "Sushi Fight" have in common. This one element, however, can mean and endless list of possiblities; from combating giant sea creatures to maping giant corporate webs. Web artist Andy Deck has also created an interesting net art site called "Glyphiti." In this site, the user can click on any area of a large image. Deck explains, "As author, I have established certain characteristics. These include the size and available colors, which are black and white. But the state of every pixel can be changed by the visiting artist." Once you click on the area, a new image is generated which alters the original. Each mark a user makes is recorded. Although this site involves user interaction, it does not so to the same extent as the previous examples. In this case the user simply clicks on the image and waits for the results. With "They Rule," the user can engage in multiple actions from researching on the internet to maping corporate webs. Same goes with "Sushi Fight"; the user is engaging in an actual game with an ultimate goal and purpose. To whatever extent, however, net art allows the viewer to not only view the work of art, but enter into it either by searching, maping, playing, clicking, creating, ect.! A dimensionality that is not common in most other forms of art.

Journal 3

It's hard for one to read Jeffrey Veen's article "State-of-the-art Interactivity?" and not feel his sense of frustration from today's standards of interactivity in respects to his recent experience as a judge of an interactive design contest. From the designers disloyalty to keeping interactivity interactive by incorporating manipulations such as opening new windows, turning off controls, and breaking the back button to annoying sounds and annoying marketing strategies. I agree that in entering an interactive design contest, a designer should expect to be held accountable to the traditional definition of interactivity. However "traditional" standards should not be confused with "mainstream" ideas. It seems as though designers are not stepping outside of the box and are instead resorting to mainstream advertisement techniques, overuse of flash and cued sounds. Easier said than done; how does one step outside the box? Web designer Joshua Davis presents a solution in his article, "Creating complexity from simplicity." He writes, "To be successful designers and technologists, we need the courage to let go of the old world, to relinquish most of what we have cherished and to abandon our interpretations about what does and doesn't work." Davis' theory comes down to experimentation. He claims that most of his successful is a result of a "happy accident" from an experiment. I believe in the importance of letting go and experimenting with artwork. Like Davis says, "we have spent the better part of our lives trying to organize, classify, file, associate, identify, label and dissect everything we see." It is obvious through Davis' flash work that he engages in nature and chaos vs. organization and order; especially in his "Synthetic Sinewy" with his hypnotic geometry that keeps the user watching. Similarly, his "Poems to the Sea" which starts as a faint black "cloud" that builds on itself with sketchy lines. It's not easy for aspiring artists to create an innovation that will set a mark in the realm of interactive design, however experimentation and aim to step outside the box is an artist's best hope.