Interactive Art...

During Danforth's Docent Training, we were told true difference between passively looking and actively observing the visual stimuli. Once we start paying attention to objects in our immediate environment and start asking plenty of questions (Why is water tumbler cylindrical?, Why are door knobs round? Why are flags rectangular? Why is roof usually painted white? Why do birds chirp in morning?), we realize the "inter-connectedness" nature of things & aptitude for concentrated attention seems to shoot up in no time.

At Danforth & MFA, I have often seen viewers engaged in internal dialogue with the paintings. While some viewers fill up their notebooks, others nod their heads in admiration of artworks but the ones that interest me the most are kids (watching them is always fun:))! They have boundless enthusiasm and indulge in active dialogue with artworks by doing kinesthetic movements such as waving arms, mimicking expressions (portraits), hopping around sculptures, making open-mouthed expressions before extra large (scale) artworks etc. It seems kids make conscious efforts to interact with ART but unfortunately the static nature of most artworks (paintings & sculptures) makes the interaction one sided.

While reading ARTSCOPE, I came across the term "Interactive Art" and the concept is plain brilliance. These artworks are housed in a responsive environment and engage in continuous dialogue with the viewer. Here are some salient features of these artworks (that I found fascinating):
  • Like a smart sensor-based electronic device (air conditioner thermostat, light controlled switch etc), these artworks basically seek input from viewer's movement, body temperature, voice pitch or touch etc & provide viewer with a pre-programmed response. 
  • The viewer & artwork work together to create an experience & effect unique to each observer.
  • Due to dynamic nature of artwork, they foster personalized human-machine interactions in a highly creative setting.
  • The viewer experiences a state of total immersion and gets emotionally involved in no time. (One knows it isn't real but it feels so!)
  • Some famous examples are Embankment, Irrational Geometrics or Test Site.
Here's  an interview by Camille Utterbacka renowned interactive installation artist, who keeps pushing boundaries with her awe-inspiring installations.
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen & thinking what nobody has thought.~Szent-Györgyi
[Image Courtesy-Camille Utterback]


Docent Recruitments 2010

If you reside in New England, love volunteering, can't stop smiling & Art Galleries/Museums/Elegant Designs/Photography/Art History seem to stimulate your mind, Danforth's Docent Program might be the perfect place to hone your skills, acquire several new ones & utilize your brain in its entirety. Hope to see some of you during annual docent Open House next week!
There are always flowers for those who want to see them.~Henri Matisse


Paper Magic !

[ESL Tour in Giles LaRoche's gallery at Danforth]
A while ago while doing one of the ESL tours at Danforth, I was quite surprised by elated instant responses of ESL students as they got off the museum elevator & stepped into Giles LaRoche's gallery. Some of the responses I documented were:
  • Ahaa--I've been there when I was a kid!
  • Look at that-these small people - they are so colorful & beautiful.
  • Maravilhosa! Patterns in cathedral's glass windows make me so happy.
  • Puxa - I'll get my cousin here for sure.
I hoped that one day I could share these euphoric responses with the master illustrator. Thanks to Danforth-I could not only meet Giles Laroche today but also hear him speak about how he creates the intricate paper collages,  get an overview of his drawing style (use of exactoknife, paper, book dummy etc) & see him give a jaw-dropping demo of carving paper-house from a plain sheet of paper (he calls his work PAPER RELIEF)!

[Shri Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, 2000]

Later during one-on-one conversation with Giles, I told him that I see a strong connection(art/aesthetics wise) between his illustration of Shri Meenakshi Amman Temple and Ashland Temple snaps (erswhile blog post) and to my utter amazement he smiled and nodded in agreement! He said something on the lines of "There are amazing things everywhere-one just needs to be able to observe(closely), capture (carry a sketchbook) & express it with the best of one's ability!", which I found quite impressive! When one pays close attention to subtleties in his artworks, his statement does make immediate sense. Unless one observes vivid details of things with a still mind, it seems quite difficult to transfer the same from mind to a sketchpaper.

Visit our museum between now & May 16th to see "Bridges Across Cultures!" exhibit and join us in appreciating illustrations that celebrate construction & architecture from around the world! Also check out Giles website to view his artworks and these 100 extraordinary works of paper art when you have a moment :D
Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down.~Julia Cameron
[Image Courtesy-Giles LaRoche]
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