Introduction to Interactive Installation

by Thomas Charveriat



In this class, students will investigate the central questions surrounding the notion of interactivity in our culture. In particular, we will address the complex web of relationships that evolve among artist, audience and environment in an interactive art experience. Interactivity has become a ubiquitous and seductive buzzword used to describe virtually any human gesture enacted through a machine interface. However, deeper questions remain about how we define and react to interactive art. Are there aspects of performing or enacting interaction itself have artistic merit? Are these aspects formal or functional components of a work of art? What are the experiential differences between interactive works presented in a gallery context, in a public space context and web-based art pieces, where interaction is relegated to the pointing and clicking of a mouse?

In the class, we will investigate our own relationship as artists to the discourse of interactivity, and, in so doing, we will discuss the ramifications of the digital age on our lives. In addition, we will examine our relationship to interactive works as an audience by examining both the work and writing of contemporary artists. We will also consider aspects of the professional practices of artists involved with electronic media. Lectures, video and web sources will augment and frame the technical issues of how to develop and think about interactive art and environments.

The course will be focused on learning from each other and sharing our view on interactive media. Together the members of this class represent tremendous resources of knowledge and technique and we will be discussing each student's skill, to foster and create an environment of open sharing and collaboration.

The main focus will be on developing an aesthetic and dialog which is appropriate to the creation of time based, interactive environments and objects which can exist virtually and or physically. We will also be discussing the cultural language and acquired associations of material, form and interaction as it relates to interactive art.

Primary objectives are:

1) To conceptualize and refine your ideas, research, visualize and plan an interactive art project.

2) To acquire new electronic and electromechanical skills.

3) To develop an understanding of the cultural and corporeal languages of form and material

Teaching Methods

Duration of course: 3 hours meeting twice a week.

Current mix of lecture/tutorial/studio practice

Recommended materials & Supplied materials:

Most material will ever be supplied by the teacher or will have to be preambly bought in Diotronic (30% discount will be given there in case of extra needs from the students, please ask Mustafa and refer to the interactive class given by Thomas Charveriat)

-1 catalogue DIOTRONIC (Electronic Components Supplier in Barcelona):Free

-1 Soldering Iron for each student (2 Supplied, 5 needed)

-1 Wheel of Solder Wire (needed)

-1 wheel of desoldering braid (needed)

-1 Crocodile stand(1 ( 1 needed, 1 supplied)

-1 set of crocodile connectors (supplied)

-1 Wire cutter (needed)

.1 set of LEDS(needed, some supplied)

- various audio connectors(supplied)

-1 Wire Stripper (2 Supplied)

-1 Wheel of Electric Cable (1 needed, 1 supplied)

-some LDR (needed)

-Various switches (pulse and position)- (some supplied, some needed)

-PCB plates (needed)

-Lamp Bulbs (needed)

-Bulb Socket (Supplied)

-220V plugs (needed)

-Fuses (needed)

-1 digital voltmeter with test of continuity( 1 needed, 2 supplied)


First session


Studio Assignment:

During the class, the students will be required to come up with some ideas towards the realization of a mixed media sculpture/installation which can communicate with the audience visually, no need to add technical explanation to understand the work.

You might try to use the methods below:

1. Grouping related objects to compose a reasonable content;

2. Mixing mutually exclusive objects to cause rational meaning to vanish and create new meaning;

3. Destroy part of the object to create a new meaning;

4. Appropriation;

5. Dislocation;

6. Repetition.

Notes on Interactivity (Some Food for Thought):

Interactivity? While "interactivity" is a popular concept, there are very few examples of interactive performances or installations, and when explored, interactivity may be irrelevant to the piece. This may be due to a lack of knowledge of the tools available, and a lack of critical thinking as to the relevance of embedding interactive elements in one's project. Too complex of a system may be perceived as random and exclusive while too simple may be irrelevant. In some instances, interactivity may be overstated: is pressing a key on a laptop to start a pre-determined process interactive? In others it may not be necessary, adding a layer of language which confuses the initial focus of one's work, or it may be paramount to the execution and appreciation of the piece. Inefficient Systems? Fictitious Gestures?


Second Session:

This session will be divided in two.

The first part will be dedicated to show the students some interesting interactive projects.

The second part will be dedicated to give an overview of the tools used for a successful interactive art piece.

Needless to say, that in order to understand interactive art, the students need to get a minor knowledge of how interaction works.

Notes on electronics: This short overview on electronics is not aimed towards losing the students in physics theorems but to show them the way towards a clearer understanding. The following explanations should be considered as potential future reference.

Basic Electronic Overview


Third Session:

Hands on studio and production. This session is designed to conceptualize a new work within the span of one quarter of an hour, bringing your learning back to the whole group in order to make significant progress toward the realization of an interactive object or installation. This structure will allow all to enhance and learn from each other as your knowledge and understanding evolves. The Second part of this session will be dedicated LDR sensors and soldering.(Mechanic and material workshop)

Fourth Session:

-Electronic I/O workshop

-Public space activation and view participatory art

-Interactivity - installation with the ideas of data sculpture, space, event, gesture, movement, etc.

-Input devices such as infrared, ultrasonic, light resistors, contact microphones, limit switches and general switches will be used with output devices like; servo motors, DC motors, speakers, alarms, relays, transistors, solenoids, AC motors and AC lighting devices.