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.
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen & thinking what nobody has thought.~Szent-Györgyi
[Image Courtesy-Camille Utterback]