Re-negotiating Social Space by Linda Ryan Bengtsson

Leonardo Abstract Services (LABS) 2010-2012
Re-negotiating Social Space: Public Art Installations and Interactive Experience

Digital media technologies are becoming increasingly and extensively integrated into our way of living. We communicate, inform and entertain ourselves through media technologies in disparate spaces. When digital technology is integrated into our everyday environment, the border between media interfaces and physical environments is being blurred. Traditional division of spaces dissolves and are rearranged, complicating the linkages between private and public spheres. Interactivity intersects these spaces allowing users of mediated content to be affected by the actual and vice versa. This study has emerged through the need for further research focusing around the term interactivity in today’s media practices, contributing with a more targeted research and theoretical work concerning the interconnection between space and digital technologies. The study pursues interactivity by taking on a different perspective than earlier research, staging a qualitative study from a grounded theory perspective complemented by phenomenological theory. In that way interactivity is approached from diverse angles, moving away from earlier fixations in technology and placing it within social and spatial contexts.

The study use the three Scandinavian contemporary interactive art installations ‘Colour by Numbers’, ‘Emotional Cities’ and ‘Climate on the Wall’ to explore how interactivity plays into the relation between humans, technology and social space. The integration of interactive art installations in public space raises issues regarding humans’ sense of space and human relations vis-à-vis interactions with such artworks. The installations became arenas for expression, communication and observations of other participants. Communicating with an audience through staging, performing, defining individual markers and viewing others, were central drives for users to participate. This is expressed in their determination to explore the installation, identifying ways to communicate and as such, transform technological and spatial problems and limitations into advantages. In these diverse ways the interactive art installations connect (or possibly re-connect) individuals to physical space, to their geographical belonging, as well as to their community. This result opposes a common pre-conception of interactivity to undermine geographical borders and detach us from spatial limitations. The study gives evidence that interactive art installations can shift humans’ perceptions of space, allowing them to have social experiences and feel locally connected or anchored. Humans do not necessarily become placeless due to interactive technology. It may as well enhance space by converging with spatial references. The mediated and the actual may re-enforce each other expanding and transgressing diverse spaces.

Degree: Ph.D
Year: 2012
Pages: 240
University: Karlstad University
Supervisor: Miyase Christensen
Language: English
Dept: Media- and Communication
Copyright: Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099; 2012:9
Lang_author: English, Swedish
Keywords: Interactivity, interactive art, public space, social space, locative media artworks, interactive interfaces

LEONARDO ABSTRACTS SERVICE (LABS) is a comprehensive collection of Ph.D., Masters and MFA thesis abstracts on topics in the emerging intersection between art, science and technology.

If you are interested you can submit your abstract to the English LABS, Spanish LABS, Chinese LABS and French LABS international Peer Review Panels for inclusion in their respective databases. The authors of abstracts most highly ranked by the panel will also be invited to submit an article for consideration for publication in the refereed journal Leonardo.