Intro to Physical Computing - What is Interaction?

September 10, 2017

What is interaction?

 

Interaction is a process that requires a reciprocal action between two entities, by this we could mean a human conversing with a computer to retrieve information or as a form of guidance, whichever the computer is intended to do. But, in the field of interaction design, it takes more than just a process of action and reaction. Chirs Crawford, The Art of Interaction mentioned in his article that interaction is a cyclic process, which two acts alternately, listen, think and speak. But the more burning question in our existing era, is technology the only medium use for interaction? 

 

There is a blurred line between interaction that relies on technology as a medium and interaction that uses the environment space as a medium. For example in Allan Kaprow, Yard 1961. Viewers were asked to be involved in the art itself, the artwork was a contained high element of play, but within the boundaries Kaprow had prefixed. The piece illustrates blurred boundaries between a "life like" and an "art like" art. In Kaprow's determination, there was no distinction between the viewer and the artwork; the viewer became part of the piece.

 

Allan Kaprow, Yard, 1961 - Art Installation/Performance Art 

 

Although some may argue that this is a performance art and that the artist seldom interact with the viewer in any deep level. While it is true that the artist may not interact with the viewer, but it is eventually the artist intention to have the artwork interact with the viewer, which makes the whole experience complete. In my opinion, it is no different from a interactive piece made with technology. The artist is not present to interact with the viewer, in most cases, the artwork interacts with the viewer. 

 

What makes Allan Kaprow, Yard 1951 interestingly interactive is that even with the absence of technology, the viewer became part of the piece and there is the presence of tactile. Using our physical strength and hands to interact with the artwork is a common notion that is missing in today's interactive work with technology.

 

What makes a good interaction piece? Many might ask.  I believe when creating an interactive piece, we should always consider a dynamic medium that we can see, feel, and manipulate.

Every Interactive designer should adhere to the principle of listen, think and speak. Our future of interaction should integrate tactile whenever possible, with form and purpose. 

 

 

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