The Implicit Body Framework // Response #2

In this chapter, Stern refines the methodology of analyzing and criticizing interactive art pieces. He concludes that the traditional critiques “tend to stop” after the examination of the artistic inquiry and the description of the piece. To complete the “Implicit Body Framework” that he defines,  the inter-activity and relationality of a piece also have to be paid attention to and carefully examined, particularly in the context of interactive arts. These two latter areas would help us fully appreciate and extract the essence of an interactive piece.

Continue reading “The Implicit Body Framework // Response #2”

Response 02

  • The attempt to separate artists’ intension with what the audience receives from the interactive piece really interests me. Usually, audience would expect to receive what the artist want them to. However, the reality is audience may have totally different feelings about the interactive experience. For instance, the artists of Messa di Voce intent to show “the fiction that the voice can be seen”. But from the perspective of audience, they may only feel it’s an interesting piece that the pattern reacts to my voice, they won’t even assume the pattern on the wall as the physical form of their voice. Similarly, when we do our project Le Papillonour intension is to shorten the distance between nature and audience, but what audience feel is more like playing with my friends among the butterflies (instead of the distance between the user and nature, the distance between user and user is shortened more).
  • I really love the term “potential”. He mentions that what users do when they interact with the piece is really different from every day behavior. Interactive installations makes the potential of our bodies aware, enable users to re-define their body, and possibly reflect what’s the relationship between their body and  environment around. For instance, autistic children will not express their thoughts to others. However, through an art piece that can draw paintings, they are able to do the movements they will not able to do in everyday life. Not only to themselves, to their parents is a big surprise.
  • Another thing I love about Messa di Voce is that it’s user oriented. Instead of make user following the instructions of artists, the user define the rule of game themselves.

Response 02

In Chapter 3: A Critical Framework for Interactive Art, Stern made several intrinsic points that offer readers a new perspective on analyzing the interactive art.

He recognizes that technology has become an essential aspect of almost all of the interactive art pieces. However, technology itself does not suffice in the evaluation of such pieces. We need an implicit body framework, so that we are not only appreciating solely the technical success of interactive art, but also relating it to the connection to both the participants and environment.

The critical framework put forwards by Stern consists of four main facets: inquiry, description, inter-activity and relationality. The first two are mainly an authorial statement of the core idea and its applications in the piece, and the second means how the work itself, along with how it relates to the participants & surroundings feels like. In the example of Messa di Voce, I feel the authors made some intrinsic decisions to map the generative algorithms to performers’ body movements. I can relate a lot to this when doing the project Le Papillon. How to make sense of people’s movement and viusal/audio feedback?

The key point we should observe in interactive art pieces is that the connection it establishes with both the participants and  audience, and even the physical peripheral. When documenting such pieces, it’s important to keep in mind that usually such key point is missing from the scene because interactive art pieces have this resistence to representation. To understand the idea conveyed, i.e. embodiment and X, we need to think about question such as how-we interact, in addition to what-it-does.

Response 2: Interactivity in an Embodied Dialogue

“A Critical Framework for Interactive Art” basically introduces what the implicit body framework is and its four areas of examination, in which Nathaniel Stern maintains that the latter two areas, “inter-activity” and “relationality” of the four, “enhance understandings of interactive art and embodiment” (95). Stern claims that “they reveal the performative, real-world implications of what we [do/how we act] affects the installation” (95). Reflecting on our trip to the Rain Room, we were first introduced the concept of the installation and how it works before we entered, through which we got a preassumption about what the interaction might be like. When we entered the installation, according to Stern, we actually encountered the third and fourth area of the implicit body framework — interacting with the installation. As we were approaching the installation, I as a user felt really scared of getting wet in the “rain,” because it is what will happen in real life! Interactive installations can actually put people into situations where they feel intervened or even constrained by the artwork. For instance, the idea that people perceive from the artwork might be completely different from/the opposite to how they think (how things work) in real life. Meanwhile, people can also form new understandings of simple facts from their various interaction with installations. As Stern puts it in the book, the implicit body framework “invites us into our own potential to vary by means of how we interrelate, and then rehearse in the interval” (96). People are able to adjust themselves in a specific scenario set by artists and make themselves feel comfortable within the constraint through inter-activity.

Face & Palm Documentation

Face & Palm


Face & Palm is an interactive installation that projects the user’s face onto his/her hands. It is intended to simulate the interaction of looking down on reflective surfaces with projection mapping on hands. The user will be immersed in the surreal experience of the on-hand mirroring effect.

Demo Video:

Continue reading “Face & Palm Documentation”

Response 2: A critical framework for interactive art

This chapter was quite difficult to read and I must admit that even now I’m not sure if I fully understand it.

I particularly struggled on defining inter-act conceptually but it has made me think deeper on the meaning.


I have come to this conclusion:

Performance and Interactivity, the first two elements of the framework and singular stream. One has the purpose of providing information for the audience (by simply giving it to them through some fort of performative art) the other serves the purpose of informing the artist (by using his/her art in in the process showing to the artist how his/her art is received/interpreted)

However to inter-act is to go beyond this and to create dual dialogue. This concept is both vital to us having a deeper understanding of art as it ties the two former elements but also allows for a collective understanding that cannot be fully grasped unless critically looking at the piece through this lense.

Reading Response 2: A Critical Framework for Interactive Art

This chapter describes ‘Implicit Body Frameworks’ a framework through which interactive art can be thought about and analyzed. It consists of four parts: artistic inquiry and process, artwork description, inter-activity and relationality. Stern claims that the last of these, relationality, is not thought about enough when interactive art is created and analyzed.

In prioritizing relationality, The focus of this mode of thinking is not on one thing or the other but on the relationships between things, the idea of things being ‘with’ other things or in relation to each other: the relationship between body and space, and body and language. An idea that stood out to me was the (paradoxical sounding) concept of Plural Singularities. That a group of things in their grouping and relationship to each other become a singular thing, like people for instance.

This provides a creator of interactive art with a more complex frame with which to think of their work, keeping in mind the interconnected-ness and intersections of the elements of the piece with the space it is placed in and the bodies that encounter it.

Reading response to implicit body thematics

Reaching Nathaniel Stern’s “interactive art and embodiment” gave me a better understanding of what an interactive performance in this class might entail.

I think the best phrase that summed up the “implicit body framework” is that it includes the “intent of the artist, the content and materiality of the installation, the inter-activities of the participant and software, and the relational feedback loops that affect and are affected by their interactions” (91).

He gives the example of Messa di Voce’s 30-40 minute, semi-improvisational theatrical event, which explores the concept of visualizing voice. I find this project fascinating and it serves well to “question the meaning and effects of speech sounds, speech acts, and the immersive environment of language.” I think one of the factors that make this performance work so well is that it contradicts the most fundamental concept that voice is heard, not seen. I think having an intriguing idea that grabs viewers’ attention is important to make sure they are constantly engaged throughout the performance.

As Stern puts it, I’ll be mindful of the implicit body thematics such as meaning-making, temporality, spatiality, visuality, and bodiliness when designing and planning out my interactive performance.