Keeping Interactive Art Interactive


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  • Title: Keeping Interactive Art Interactive
  • Author(s): Jennifer Eiserman, Gerald Hushlak
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Collections, Exhibitions, Technology, Arts
  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2014
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Eiserman, Jennifer , and Gerald Hushlak. 2014. "Keeping Interactive Art Interactive." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 6 (2): 183-196. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v06i02/44449.
  • Extent: 14 pages


This paper draws on research in exhibition design and visitor studies to demonstrate that interactive exhibitions provide significantly improved visitor experiences. Interactivity allows visitors to engage with works at a basic, kinesthetic level, to “play,” “discover” and extend notions of art. They allow intergenerational groups, second language visitors and those with special abilities to engage more deeply with the works. Children respond enthusiastically to interactive installations. By physically interacting with a work, the visitor has a more immediate, intuitive relationship with it. However, this can only happen when it works. The recent Lucas Samaras installation at the Venice Biennale made its own statement when one entered the space and ALL the monitors were not working. Profs. Hushlak (artist), Boyd (remote sensing), and Jacobs (swarm theory) collaborate on interactive museum installations. Presently they are developing an interactive installation wherein performers in Montreal and Beijing communicate through dance in real time. The telematics components will be facilitated from Calgary. The difference between interactive exhibitions that work and those that do not is the way in which these exhibitions are designed, monitored, and maintained. Early in the process of computer art installation it was almost a given that exhibits involving digital technologies were vulnerable to breakdown. Museum personnel, without the specialized training necessary to maintain the installations, are usually at a loss to repair digital systems; often, local technicians are incapable of mending broken installations because they are custom designed. Hushlak, et al. recognize this issue and provide remote monitoring and adjustments of their interactive systems. Most malfunctions are repaired from a distance, ensuring that the artwork remains functioning. A series of interactive museum exhibitions will be cited that provide different models for remote exhibit monitoring and adjustment. When appropriate, remote monitoring of the audience facilitates sampling of audience engagement.