jane powers: Comments on Huhtamo Article
I would like to counter Erkki Huhtamo's third misunderstanding, in his article, "Seven Ways of Misunderstanding Interactive Art", in terms of two interactive art works: Alexitimia, made by Paula Gaetano Adi and Translator II: Grower made by Sabrina Raaf. In his third misunderstanding, he contends that "interactive artists are content with technological trickery" and that there "is no significant difference between and interactive artwork and a well-made video game". Additionally, he comments, " An artwork requires something else, a kind of surplus of inspiration and signification which will transcend the rational assembly of the "machine parts", melt them together and give them a raison d'être on a higher level of abstraction."
Alexitimia, the title, is a term that refers to an emotional cognitive deficit, the inability to know what emotions signify and consequently the inability to verbalize them. Emotions do get expressed through the body. Gaetano's, Alexitimia is a high-tech machine covered in soft/pliable simulated skin. When the participant touches, its "skin", the "skin" begins to "sweat". The tactility of the simulated skin and the ooze of the "sweat", seeming would conflate the participant's mind and body. There is no prescribed outcome, rather the participant's experience is personal and sensorial, and would be felt, as Huhtamo asks, as "transcending the rational assembly of the 'machine parts'.
Translator II: Grower is a small high-tech robotic 'rover' vehicle, which navigates around the periphery of a room hugging the wall and "responding" to the carbon dioxide levels in the air by drawing varying heights of "grass" on the walls in green ink. Grower senses CO2 levels via a digital CO2 sensor. The number of people in the room affects the CO2 level. Grower seemly works on both a conceptual and sense perception level, thus on Huhtamo's request for a "higher level of abstraction". The participant(s) in the room are given a visual image of the consequence of our mostly invisible breath. In the room he/she/they can grasp that breath has a substance that can affect other life forms positively and be brought to noticing/experiencing his/her/their breath. This robotic rover "transcends" to metaphoric space.
Translator II: Grower