Interactivity at the Random International Exhibit

This past week, the Pace Gallery in Chelsea started showing art from Random International, an art collective based in London. Most renowned for The Rain Room, their work is highly interactive and encourages active participation from its viewers. I love their stuff.

In the Chelsea gallery, they showed a variation of their Future Self piece. You can watch a video of this piece here:

When I first encountered this piece, I saw the LEDs create a trailing image of anyone who walked by the piece. The usability of this piece felt familiar due in part to its similarity to Daniel Rozin’s “mirrors.” I assumed that there was some kind of camera that detected motion and translated that data into an “image” for the LEDs to recreate.

I watched several people stop in front of it and play around with their image recomposed as lights. Granted, this art piece was in an art gallery, so the setting promoted viewers to observe and interact with the art pieces. It was very interesting to see how engaged people became when they saw themselves reflected in the piece. Perhaps it speaks to this current generation of selfies, but viewers were enthralled at this piece and the other mirrors that were on display at this exhibition.

The combination of interacting with themselves as well as the magical power of LEDs made this piece a particularly emotional one. Considering that our Norman reading illustrated the importance of emotions in interactivity, I would definitely say that this piece is a successful one. Although we may be insecure or humble, I believe everyone thinks of themselves as attractive, so the ability to interact with oneself through an art piece would definitely be attractive to your average viewer.

As for user behavior, most of those I observed either moved their body parts or walked by the piece. Children were apt to spend more time in front of the piece, jumping up and down and moving their body more freely. Occasionally, someone would dance in front of the piece. The Future Self piece though had a short delay between movement and response from the piece, and I think that this lag in feedback hindered the interactivity of the piece. Many people thought that the piece was non-responsive and moved on to the next piece. That was particularly disappointing–as it felt like a response to this world of instant gratification.

Interacting with Future Self

Overall though, I really enjoyed the piece and thought that the craftsmanship of the piece was beautiful. I hope to work on pieces like this as I further my growth at ITP.