Joseph Franklyn McElroy Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist] on Mon, 29 Apr 2002 22:40:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: RHIZOME_RAW: GENERATION FLASH: Lev / Sawad

Quoting John Klima <>:

> when discussing artwork, soft or not, the focus is naturally on the
> appearance of the thing. its the first thing you encounter when you
> "see" it. 

I have very often been affected by artwork where the appearance has little more 
to do than represent a signature of the experience.  Since text, sound, 
algorythms, concepts are a great deal of the practice of software arts, 
appearance is only one of many attributes, no more important than the others. 
That said, I try to make anything I do give a good visual first impression. 
This is by choice, not a requirement. 

>we are still primarily dealing with a visual medium here

Not at all, we are dealing with a medium that can communicate in numerous ways, 
restricted only by the physical output devices we create.  The same program 
that sends bits to pixels could just as easily send bits to midi devices, such 
as lights or instruments.  A interpreter could be built to make the bit stream 
meaningful, regardless of the output device. 

> the problematic aspects of interactivity are
> precisely why i make work that does not *have* to be interacted with,
> and by so doing, i relinquish all responsibility to make it "easy to
> use." 

Did van gogh send canvases to his brother to be seen, or did he require people 
to come to the fields where he created his paintings?  You have a 
responsibility, if you wish to communicate, to maximize the ability of your 
medium to do so - even if your communication is of an esoteric sort with a 
limited audience. 

> the public expects "ease of use" as the most critical element in
> software interaction, how often has this appeared in promo materials and
> advertising? allways.  can't think of a single piece of software
> advertising that does not include those three words. but where in the
> museum catalogues and art reviews do those words appear? never. "this
> jackson pollock is easy to use and integrates seamlessly with your
> couch."

However, all you have to tell the public is that it is a painting and they 
already know that it hangs on a wall.  Software has not become standardized and 
thus advertising tries to let the public know what are the features. Just 
because ease of use is desired by a general audience should not reduce its 
applicability to fine art... most artists still make paintings that hang on 

> if the discussion focuses on interaction, the question of usability
> always seems to be the priority.  why should the user be considered at
> all? this isn't a spereadsheet, there is no productivity that needs to
> be considered. concerns of human interaction seem to me to be more
> scientific concerns than art concerns. by what criteria do we assess an
> aesthetic of interactivity?

Why are sculptures not placed in caves? I don't think it has been the historic 
trend in art to make physical inaccessability part of the learning curve.  
Unless you are making conceptual art, in which case you could just tell us what 
the program is supposed to do, make it impossible to open the executible, and 
then never bother programming it in the first place.  At some point, if not 
entirely conceptual, you have to provide some method of 
have to think of how a human interacts with your art...the question you are 
really proposing is not if we should be concerned with interactivity - but to 
what level of intelligence and ability should we set our sights.  Where do you 
draw the line between "blue haired old ladies" and "fresh-faced techno-nerds?"

I would judge interactivity aesthetically to some degree similar to texture on 
a is the result of the process of building the piece and is 
harmonious with its intentions. 

> one ever discuss interaction when not all people agree what is left and
> what is right? this is certainly an exageration of the problem, but it
> highlights the situation that not all users are equally capable of
> interaction.

And isn't nice that art, as always, is on the forefront of integrating society 
into new ways of thinking and finding standards upon which it rests.  This is 
not a problem that prevents art, this is a problem to be solved by art. Better 
us solve it than businesses only concerned if it sells profitably. 

Joseph Franklyn McElroy 
Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist]
Electric Hands, Inc
Electrify your sales, Electrify your Mind

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