In the previous post, I mentioned human to human interaction and human to computer interaction.
After I dig in to the term deeply, I found out that interactivity is integral element to Western mode of representation which includes from church paintings, sculptures, to contemporary digital media environments. Actually, I can say that interactivity is one of the biggest goals of the discourse.

In visual arts, discovery of perspective made huge impact on interactivity between viewer and the artwork. According to Mark Meadows, there are two kinds of perspective in an interactive narrative; emotional and visual perspective. Visual perspective can be defined similar to our vision in front od a giant building. Top of the building collapses in to the horizon and appears as a triangular form. Emotional perspective is a cognitive process, which is interdependent to the visual perspective. By looking at a tall building, we experience physicality of the building, and at the same time we feel small and fragile. That is the reason of most governmental buildings has huge infrastructures and big doors, in order to make you feel the authority and power.

There is two examples I found quite interesting and related to my interest and practice; Giotto di Bondone’s paintings and Tilman Schneider’s wood sculpture.

In late 13th century, Italian painter Giotto di Bondone depicted historical and religious scenes 
by using visual perspective, in order to create sense of location for the viewer. He made some his best work at the Church of San Francesco at Italy. These site specific paintings, at first glance,  looks like oddly angled lines and deformed images. But, when you stand the exact location that you need to be, narrative becomes visible and immersive. He believed the visual and emotional perspective feed and enrich each others. Giotto uses an interactive framework that forces viewer to take action; to stand in the right place. By doing so, he promotes the relationship between two perspectives.

Similarly German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, in 1490 created his masterpiece, Holy Blood Altar which we can find traces of Giotto’s perspectivist approach. He was commissioned by the Church in order to depict a religious moment; last supper of the Christ. There is a conversation depicted in the scenery. Only the one man in the middle looks at you, and point holy bread. Your perspective merged in the same line with the person. Now, interactive narrative enriched by human gestures and conventions
Holy Blood Altar, by Tilman Riemenschineider, 1490

Early traces of interactivity in western culture is mostly depicts religious or mythic moments, and stories, by using perspectivist approach.

Both pieces demand viewer to be in the right place in order to interact. Not the same but similarly, positioning and interaction of the viewer is also important in Happennings. In this case, different from the previous examples of interactivity, narrative becomes non-linear and sometimes unexpected. Yet, certain elements of a happening decided by the artists, narrative of the pieces is open to improvisation and can be formed and directed by the audience. At this stage, audience may become the narrator, yet he/she doesn’t know the end of the narrative.

The reason behind tendency towards interactivity in these pieces is that quality of interaction can affect the meaning of the piece, it enriches the narrative, helps and stimulates the viewer in order to learn about the story. It makes sense when I think about the subject matters of the mentioned pieces, which are mostly religious and political. 

Further than that, I can expand it to contemporary media tools, such as Tv, radio, internet, etc. For instance Tv which is an interactive device that allows you to create non-linear narratives by changing channels. So, you can observe same news from different broadcasters, and grasp it more deeply and differently compared to a linear narrative. Also, in terms of interactivity, almost all contemporary digital media environments, radio, internet, computer, etc. designed for single user experience, only the feedback is experienced together with public domain.

In addition to the first post, I can say that interactivity can be considered as a way of story telling, that affects cognitive efforts and understanding of the user.

Interactivity and photography

It is well known fact that artists used camera lucida and obscure as a guide to their paintings, since early stages of Renaissance. We can say that perspectivist approach finds its superior state with invention of camera. But, unlikely, relationship between interactivity and artwork is not the same as it is with painting and sculpture. In this context, examples, we can talk about mostly demands mental interaction of the viewer, not physical.

As a key artwork, it worth looking at Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents which is series of cloud photographs. He describes the whole series as an equivalent of his world view and mastery on photography. Photographs taken from 1924 to 1934. This is the time that photography’s indexical abilities glorified by different sources artists, newspapers, scientific publications, etc. He exhibited his work when photographs considered recordings of life, in other words every element in a photograph signifies and creates meaning. But, in Equivalents, there was no apparent meaning which you can tell immediately. There is well crafted ambiguity, and organisation of cloud formations. He demands viewers’ mental interaction in order to create the meaning. Following conversation between Stieglitz and a reporter explains the impact of the photographs:

Man (looking at a Stieglitz Equivalent): Is this a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: What difference does it make of what it is a photograph?
Man: But is it a photograph of water?
Stieglitz: I tell you it does not matter.
Man: Well, then, is it a picture of the sky?
Stieglitz: It happens to be a picture of the sky. But I cannot understand why that is of any importance.

Approach reminds me Giotto’s intention to combine visual and emotional perspectives. Stieglitz arranges his camera in order to create an ambiguous texture and defamiliarises clouds, deploys and abstract narrative. By doing so, he is promoting emotional perspective of the scenery.

Gas Tanks series, Bernd and Hilla Becher, from 1963 to 1975
Another example can be Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typological series, but this time emotional perspective almost completely hidden, its better to say hid by photographer. Becher’s work focuses on industrial buildings water towers, silos, factories, mines. They photographed these structures in such neutral way, so that the viewer observe the visual qualities of them without affecting by the photographers point of view on the subject. Photographers intervention to the scene is almost invisible. Subjects depicted similarly, with same whether conditions, and proportions. In this case, emotional perspective is depends on completely the visual qualities of subjects.

Thomas Struth’s Museum photographs has an interesting stand point in terms of interactivity, especially his work,  Audience 1”. He photographs museums, captures viewers while they are looking at artworks. In this piece, visitors looking at Michelangelo’s sculpture, “ David”. We can clearly see the girl with red dress is adopting body posture of the sculpture, and in a way, mental interactivity of the viewer embodied with the girl in the photo.
Audience 1, by Thomas Struth

Mobile photography and interactivity

When I think of broader and more contemporary sense, and searched for photography and interactivity, I came up with mobile photography which involve social interaction. Though photography history, fair amount of the photographs taken by now taken in last few years, and quite a big part of these photographs are on the internet, especially on web 2.0 applications, such as facebook, flickr, twitter, etc. Meaning, there are humongous amount of stories and experiences shared, interpreted, shared, by users. 

I think interaction of the photos that shared through in social networks, are far from than traditional photographs. Cutting, pasting, editing a photograph became a daily process of the user, it is not something dedicated to the creator. Apart from the drop of the visual quality in the photos, different elements contributes to the meaning. “Like” buttons are one of them. Number of likes can define the value of the photo or helps the exposure of it. Commenting on a photo is also another change of the way we communicate. I don’t think nobody shows their favourite memories photos to their friends, by adding a poem or something like that…  I can say that intimacy of photographs became questionable thing for me.

Also, it is different in the way of being certain time and space. The person who is connected to the social network may reach millions of people, but physically he/she is alone in her/ his room. This kind of virtual socialising, reminds me seasickness. In a boat trip, usually, your eye and brain works   together and makes perceive horizon as a straight line. But, at the same time, your ear fluid which allows you to keep your balance while standing, says “your boat is swinging by the waves”. When these two inputs conflict in brain seasickness happens. Similarly, solitude and togetherness felt at the same time by the user simultaneously. 

In addition to that, experiencing world and daily events affected dramatically. It is visible when we look at the photo on the below. First photograph is taken at year 2005 which is two year before the first generation of iphone. Second is taken at 2013, when mobile photography and sharing environments well established. The difference is “being” at there, and contributing social event, listening pope, replaced with almost completely with “sharing”. 


In this context, Selfies which are, in a way, kind of reflections of users’ personality, takes fair amount of portion within the field of mobile photography. When I consider above mentioned concepts and findings, I plan to conduct my next research in such a way that it covers selfies, interactivity, and photography.

In practice, I keen to produce a piece that has an interactive digital framework and hoping to illustrate/ explore/ interpret the social interaction of self portraits within the digital realm. I am not up to traditional ways of photographic representation, although research may render such results then I can consider using traditional methods. But, I’ d rather prefer using digital tools which may provide me enough flexibility to reach my goals. And, off course, decisions can be formed into another dimension which I am open to find it thorough the semester.

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