About Liquid Spaces

Unlike the conventional gallery with it's traditional role of viewer as passive spectator, the artworks in these Liquid Spaces demand a more active role of the visitor as he or she interacts with the works and becomes a protagonist in the gallery.

Interactive art evolved from several different influences. Incorporated in the artistic gesture is the passive language of television viewing, the dynamic language of computer and video games, and the typographic and verbal encoding established by such avant garde movements as Dada, Fluxus, and the Situationists. First appearing in the 1960s as computers began to make their way into industry digital art drew on developing military, medical, and entertainment technologies, collapsing the boundaries between art and science, design and technology.

Modes of communication

Interactive art is not the first to make use of external modes of communication or concepts of randomness. Italian Futurists incorporated the postal system into their means of expression by exchanging letters through the mail extolling the beauty of war during World War I, while in 1916 Duchamp sent postcards to his neighbors with carefully constructed, but meaningless texts. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy used the telephone to explore the basis of processing and assembling information in his work Telephone Pictures, ordering three paintings from a sign factory and exhibiting them in Berlin in 1924. This ordered coding and decoding of images and their consequential simulated actualization for Moholy-Nagy opened up new possibilities for the artistic process.

Audience participation during the lively readings and performances of Hans Arp, Tristian Tzara, and Hans Richter of the Dadaist’s Cabaret Voltaire in the early 1900s was to have a profound influence on the avant guard movements that followed. Dada influences are evident in the telecommunications and multimedia performances of the Fluxus Group in the 1960s as well as the Performance Art, Happenings, and Video Art of the 1970s and 1980s. Robert Rauchenberg’s 1959 Broadcast invited visitors to tune three radios into different stations in the gallery. In 1960 the Myron Krueger project presented artworks that were predicated on visitor disruption, thus introducing a new interactive aesthetic. Krueger’s responsive artworks Glowflow, Metaplay, and Videoplace were time-based performances in which the visitor was as much an integral part of the theatrical act as the work of art itself. Participatory elements were also explored in the art and musical compositions of American composer John Cage. The seminal performance of the scored text of his Silent Composition 4’33 incorporated into the composition both the ambient sound and the audience response, including those who walked out of the auditorium.

Military, medical, and entertainment technologies

Interactive art is based upon technologies developed by and for the Western military industrial complex, as it evolved within centers for advanced research such as the Stanford Research Institute and Xerox PARC. The medical and entertainment industries were quick to make use of of these technological advances, co-opting them for their own agendas.

By the 1970s centers such as the Institue of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Ogaki, Japan, the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the ITP at New York University, began exploring the artistic potential of these technologies. For the past thirty years companies such as Siggraph in the United States and institutions such as Ars Electronic in Austria have encouraged digital art by instituting annual competitions and symposia on the developing discipline. These programs and others like them around the world have stimulated the activities and exhibitions organized by the NTT’s Intercommunication Center in Tokyo and the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, which are amongst today’s key centers for this kind of art.
The digital artists exhibited in Liquid Spaces approach their work from very different starting points – industrial design, literature and film, classical jazz, psychology, architecture and photography. All Israeli born, the artists live and work in New York and are united in their use of digital platforms in their work.

Industrial designer Daniel Rozin’s Wooden, Trash, and Shiny Ball Mirrors entice the observer to reflect on, and be reflected by their transformative surfaces, as they invite him/her to think about their own ways of seeing and notions of cognition. Describing the intentionally fortuitous nature of his projects, Rozin explains, “Creating a physical object that includes computation provides serendipity or randomness. In the physical world things happen. In computers things don’t happen. A difficult challenge in programming a computer is to make it behave in a non-repeatable or illogical way. You can generate random behavior on a computer but it’s not physical randomness – the world behaves in ways that are much more than mathematically random. Steps wear down where lots of people walk, things age, motors start making weird sounds, computers overheat. One of the challenges when trying to do art with computes is to produce the richness of the real world.”

Tirtza Even invites the observer to navigate her liquid landscapes through digital intervention, a transforming agency granted by the artist and transferred to the user to produce new variations across non-linear pathways.

Jazz musician Amit Pitaru uses computer coding to play with animated drawings and painted images which shift and move with the fluidity of the music. The spatial metaphors that connect sound and motion recall the work of Russian physicist Lev Termen, who in 1919 invented the Teremin, an instrument played with no physical contact.

Inbar Barak and Ruth Ron are work with visualizations of information systems and incorporate time-based interactivity in their installations and online projects. In Liquid Spaces they entice visitors to transgress the barriers set up between the casual visitor and the institutional museum. Through a novel interface and live feed video cameras visitor is allowed to glimpse behind the scenes into the unseen workings of the museum.

Interactive art is fast becoming an integral part of the fabric of the urban environment. From building facades to shop window dressings, from the way we are entertained and how we entertain ourselves and even to the way we visit museums and experience art.

Alex Ward - Curator of Design and Architecture
Susan Hazan - Curator of New Media

Curator of New Media


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