Author: Charlotte Gould, School of Art, University of Brighton, UK
Citation: Gould, C. (2018). Open Interactivity: A Model for Audience Agency. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.3.1.04
Artists have increasingly acknowledged the role of the audience as collaborators both in the construction of meaning (Bathes, 1977), through subjective experience (Dewey, 1934) and in contributing to the creative act by externalising the work. (Duchamp) Lucy Lippard identifies 1966-72 as a period where artists turned increasingly towards the audience, representing a "dematerialization of the art object" (Lippard, 1997) through "Happenings" and "Fluxus" movements. Digital media has facilitated this trajectory, implicit in the interactive computer interface (Manovich, 2005), but interactivity per se may offer no more than a series of choices put forward by the artist (Daniels, 2011). Interactivity represents interplay between artist and audience (Dinka, 1996) and is potentially a process of audience empowerment to offer agency, defined as real and creative choice (Browning, 1964).
Public screen installation "Peoples Screen" Guangzhou, linking China to Perth Australia (Sermon & Gould, 2015) offered a partnership between artist and audience to co-create content though playful narratives and active engagement in a drama that unfolds using improvisation and play. Initially visitors enjoy observing the self on the screen but audiences quickly start to interact with the environment and other participants. Immersed in play they lose a sense of the self (Callois, 2011) and enter a virtual third space where possibilities for creativity and direction of play are limitless. The self becomes an avatar where the audience can inhabit "the other" thereby exploring alternative realities through ludic play, promoting tolerance and empathy and developing collective memory.
interactivity, participation, agency, play