Models

The six model drawings include four basic models
and also two examples to describe the interactive
processes of two distinct interactive art works. Together,
the models outline the key aspects of interactive
working practices discussed in the chapters.
The models were designed to visualise and provide a
better map of the complex processes and time structures
of interactive practice.

LEAD-IN TO MODELS

The starting point for designing these models has been my longstanding interest in developing pragmatic tools that could help facilitate discussion about interactive practices across different artistic and cultural domains and their related vocabularies. The models I have designed purposefully ignore the specific artistic intricacies of a work in order to be able to hone in on the interactive aspects. For the sake of discussion these models demand a distinction between the interactive aspects and the aesthetic and formal aspects of the work.

These models describe aspects of the nature of interactive works. Using these models, works of a very different nature suddenly become comparable, which opens up new domains of analysis. They can be used by makers (initiating authors) as a conceptual tool to help conceive works, or to help document works, or to help understand which aspects of the works should be documented.

Furthermore, they can be used to help develop precise questions about and accurate criticism of interactive aspects of works such as: Is there an interesting relationship between designed and undesigned possibilities for interaction? Did the maker overlook important possible interactions? Do the intentions of the initiating author match the experiences of the significant Others ? Does the work produce interesting differences between different groups of Participants?

The models are meant to be used, expanded and adjusted if necessary or if so desired. For instance, one could use different colour codes to represent different roles of Participants, or different kinds of mediated relationships between Participants and the work.

Furthermore, it is best to keep in mind that these models are not envisioned as complete descriptions of interactive art works — they are in no way intended to be dogmatic formulas for reviewing interactive work.

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Amsterdam, December 2006.

BASIC MODEL

Onlookers, Participants and Witnesses of Traces are the three main kinds of Others in an interactive work process. Onlookers are represented by the small grey circles with no extended bubbles. Participants are represented by small grey circles with extended bubbles. These bubbles indicate their individual interactivity with the work. >> Witnesses of Traces are grey circles with white surfaces. They are not positioned in the large grey bubble (the area of actualisation), because by definition, the Witness of Traces are an indirect audience and therefore are never present during the process of the execution of the work (if they were, they would be Onlookers). The Witnesses of Traces appear in the light grey sphere. This area represents the contact between the traces of the work and the rest of the world.

Many of the bubbles which illustrate the different interactions devised by Participants exist entirely within the actual execution of the work. These different interactions were designed (at least as a possibility) by the initiating author. However, quite a number of these Participant bubbles fall outside the author’s intended context of the realisation of the work since these outer interactions were not foreseen by the initiating author. Some aspects of the Intentions model can be mapped in this model as well. Interactions that were undesigned or ignored by the initiating author (regardless of whether they were chosen or unchosen by the Participant) can be indicated by participant’s bubbles that fall mostly outside the bubble that indicates the actual execution of the work by the initiating author.

>> Participants can be seen as Co-authors, since during the execution of the work, they devise their own mode of interaction Onlookers, Participants and Witnesses of Traces are the three kinds of significant Others in interactive work processes.The Basic

Picture 3
Architecture of Interaction model of an interactive work process.
The black circle
represents the
initiating author
of the interactive
work. The white
circle is the moment
of publication
of the work.
The elongated
grey bubble is the
interactive work
conceived by the
initiating author
during its execution.
The light
grey sphere is the
zone in which the
work leaves traces
to Others who were
not present during
the actualisation
of the work by
initiating author,
Participants and
Onlookers.

INTENTIONS MODEL

In many interactive works, the actual kinds of interactions that are to take place between participants and the work are designed according to the initiating author’s intentions although not every detail of an interaction can be predicted.

Another strategy is that the initiating author predicts the possible interactions that could occur, but does not set out to design anything specific about those interactions. Works like this are conceived as having an open, interactive potential. This kind of work usually ends up harbouring large numbers of interactions that were not predetermined by the initiating author even though she may have intended them to happen. The interactions that will make up this kind of work are deliberately undesigned by the initiating author, and the form they take is determined by the participant.

It could also be that the initiating author completely overlooks the different potential kinds of participant interactions. Or, in other cases, he foresees certain interactions but continues to design the work so that these interactions are not included in the space and conditions for potential interaction.

In both cases these interactions are ignored by the initiating author. From the perspective of a participant, a specific interaction between himself and the work can be chosen, and that interaction might have been exactly designed by the initiating author, it might be foreseen but left undesigned or it might even be ignored. Also, interactions may not be actively chosen by the participant, but just happen to them.

While these interactions might be designed by the initiating author throughout the work, they are unchosen from the perspective of a participant. For instance: a person may unknowingly walk in front of a CCTV camera and notice himself later on a public screen. Once the participant realises he unwittingly participated in a work, he may decide to actively participate in the work again or not. There might also be interactions that occur without the participant being aware of them at all. These interactions are unknown.

Picture 4
Model to map the
intentions of the Initiating
Author against
those of the Participants.
(1+2)
In this model,
the intentions
of the initiating
author and the
work’s Participants
are mapped
perpendicular to
each other. Note
that the white
circles do not
represent individual
people, but
represent individual
interactions.

The intentions model has a lot of possible uses. It can be used to map the intentions of an entire work, but also a singular timeframe within the working process. Throughout all or a part of the working process, intentions may change for different Others . A certain interaction may be wanted at one moment but unwanted at other moments, or an unforeseen interaction even ends up influencing the awareness and scope for other, unknown possibilities of interaction.

These models can be used by makers as a conceptual tool to help envisage works. They can be used to describe aspects of the nature of interactive works and compare different works with one another. They can be used to compare interactions that the maker intended with the actual interactions that happen during the execution of a work. This process of comparison may show up some interesting discrepancies from which one could learn a great deal.

And lastly, but no less important, the intentions model can be used to help develop precise questions about aspects of interactive works: Is there an interesting relation between designed and undesigned interactions? Did the initiating author overlook important possible interactions? Do the intentions of the maker fit the form of the process and do they match the experience of the significant Others ? Does the work produce interesting differences between distinct groups of participants?

TIMETABLES MODEL

Because interactive works are inherently processbased, time is a critical dimension for people who use interactive working methods. Every phase of a project and every step in an interaction has a timeframe. If the interactions themselves are the main embodiment of the work, then the work exists only within a specific set of timeframes , after which only the work’s traces are left.

The TIMEFRAMES model consists of slices, distinct timeframes, ‘sliced’ from the basic model, as many as desired. A slice may depict a specific moment in the process, or may be a compressed duration over an extended period. These slices through the basic model offer interesting other possibilities to map significant information and relations between the initiating author and Others .

In this way it is possible to map the interactive configuration of a work at a specific moment. This allows for a very precise description of the changes in the nature of the interactive process over time.

The size of the bubbles of the initiating author and the significant Others relates to their importance in that particular timeframe (note the difference in size between the bubble of the initiating author and the participants’ bubbles). In this example, the initiating author gradually loses significance in her influence on the interactive process, while the surface of the area of contact between the work and the rest of the world increases in the consecutive timeframes . Also the number of Witnesses of Traces increases. Together this indicates that the interactive process becomes more external in orientation as the work unfolds over time. Furthermore, the bubbles of the Participants can be given an orientation that indicates the direction of the participants’ principal attention. Overlapping between bubbles of different participants suggests mutual influence, or even collaboration between Participants or initiating author.

Picture 5Picture 6

Models of Timeframes
in an interactive
work process.
Slice 1 shows the
period of time before
the moment of
publication by the
initiating author.
Slice 2 shows the
period in which
Onlookers become
acquainted with
the work and some
of them turn into
Participants.
Slice 3 shows the
period in which
the Participants
reach their own
moment of publication,
after which
the interactive
process stops and
the significant
Others who continue
to experience
any traces of the
work are Witnesses
of Traces.

APPLIED MODEL: BLACK BALL

Here the basic model is used to describe the interactive process of Yvonne Dröge Wendel’s Black Ball. It represents three separate, independent moments of publication of the Black Ball project. Each bubble with onlookers and Participants indicates an occasion in which the Black Ball was made public. On each occasion there were onlookers as well as participants. There were clearly fewer people involved on the second occasion then there were on the first and third occasions.

Picture 8
Applied model:
Black Ball
Here the basic
model is applied
to show the interactive
working
process of Yvonne
Dröge Wendel’s
Black Ball

APPLIED MODEL: MOVING HOUSE

This model is used to describe Lino Hellings’ work Moving House. There are three moments of publication during the interactive working process. Each moment of publication marks the end of an important timeframe. The first phase before the first moment of publication was a collaborative research phase involving many active Participants. The result of this phase was a decision to use mirrors to make a group picture. This decision was made public.

This then led to a second research phase in which experiments were carried out with different mirrors and methods of photography. This process led to the decision and procedure (the second moment of publication) for making a series of group pictures. Then there was an interactive process in which the final pictures were composed and eventually placed in their permanent location. This was the third moment of publication, after which the working process was no longer interactive.

Picture 9
Applied model:
Moving House
Here the basic
model is applied
to show the interactive
working
process of Lino
Hellings’ Moving
House

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