When does a work become art? Would the picture of the Mona Lisa be so expensive if only hung in a warehouse? Why can bananas stick to walls? Those are the questions many people think of when talking about art. And one does not shirk the truth nonetheless: Art exists only when there is an audience.
As the history progresses, the audience is getting closer and closer to the artworks. From the beginning, when art was primarily for religious rituals and beliefs, audiences were forced to stand in the distance and to hope. Then, gradually, works of art began to appear in families, whether in the form of painting or music. The works then leave the private spaces, displayed in museums for anyone to come and admire. They are even given public spaces, so that people can touch, touch and contemplate themselves in them.
However, it was not until the era of interactive art that audiences truly became an essential part of art. They are no longer people watching, admiring or taking pictures with the work. They are the contributors to turning art into art. In other words, they are co-creators.
INTERACTIVE ART OF THE TECHNOLOGY ERA Compared to other art forms, the art of postpartum interaction is later, but is now one of the ways to help artists soon establish their names quickly. The special feature of this art form is the ability to transform the work, giving each audience a completely different experience. The first recognized interactive artwork appeared in the 1960s, when artist Allan Kaprow commissioned a garden filled with old tires and audiences could freely create their work as they went there.
However, it was not until the 1990s that this type became popular and gradually became a darling in contemporary art museums. It is due to the application of technology, especially the electronic technology that developed rapidly in this period, making the creation of touch-sensitive installations to capture movement, mood and allow audience manipulations to interfere with the work easier than ever. A prime example of technology application in interactive art is Jamie Zigelbaum’s Pixel work. The work is a wall that allows random mounting of led pixel cells, each of which is allowed to be touched to create different lighting effects. Depending on each audience and their creative ability, the wall can create countless impressions of light, and draw the audience into the enchanting sparkling world. TeamLab, one of the most popular art creation groups today, also fully exploits the technology that allows audiences to co-create. With Flowers and People – Dark, the artists invited the audience into a room with abstract images moving on the wall. Interestingly, depending on where they stand and move, sensors and computers will adjust the images in a separate way. So, the hundreds of audience present in that room will have hundreds of different experiences.
MAKE ART INTO A PLAYGROUND Returning to audience participation, precisely because of this feature, interactive art also often requires special display spaces compared to traditional art forms. Regardless of technology’s dependence, in order for the audience to be able to co-create, artists must calculate the space so that they can step in and become part of it. In many cases, an interactive artwork will require a colossal space.
Ann Hamilton’s The Event of a Thread utilizes a space to hang on giant curtains, connected with swings that invite the audience back to their childhood. The swing of the swings is enough to make the curtains vibrate, create a sense of silent winds, allow the audience the opportunity to listen to their thoughts, and meditate in motion. The way they move with the swing is reflected through the curtain, allowing them to see the inner reflection without judging.
Some of these examples show what makes this art so powerful. Because whether or not you truly understand the messages behind the works, one thing is for sure, the audience will never be bored. They will not have to experience the feeling of being overwhelmed or tired of the weasel knees like walking through the immense museums to see the classics. Co-creation, whether subconsciously or artistically, to bring audiences back to a curious child may have long been forgotten. And maybe because of that, they will feel that art and life are truly one, and everyone has a great source of creative energy, as long as someone gives them the opportunity.