The dream of an interactive artwork

First Installation: 18.12.2004 Last Update: 30.01.2010

In: Tobias Hoffmann (Hg.): Die Neuen Tendenzen. The New Tendencies. Nove Tendencije. Eine europäische Künstlerbewegung 1961-1973. Ausst. Kat. Museum für Konkrete Kunst Ingolstadt, 29.9. - 7.1. 2007, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren 28.1. - 25.3.2007, p. 291 -296.


In 1936 Walter Benjamin wrote the following lines in annotation 25 of his famous essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction:

Indeed, every developed art form intersects three lines of development. Technology works toward a certain form of art… Secondly, the traditional art forms in certain phases of their development strenuously work toward effects which later are effortlessly attained by the new ones… Thirdly, unspectacular social changes often promote a change in receptivity which will benefit the new art form.

Benjamin’s theses can also be applied to the question to be discussed here. What unconscious social desire is expressed in the wish for interaction with the beholder? How far can one say that concrete art strives towards interactive effects, which are later with ease solved by other art media such as video or the computer? Which social changes work towards a different type of reception which only benefits the new art forms, namely video and computer art?

This text is an attempt at re-interpretation. It attempts to view well-known historical connections anew, to interpret them and particularly to link the apparently unconnected. It represents the attempt to bring diverse social fields, disciplines or subjects; concrete art, early computer art, the beginnings of video art, as well as the sixties sociology, into a historio-cultural relationship with one other. In the same time period, all of these four social fields were working on a very similar topic, namely on that of a mutual interaction with the beholder.

The Cold War and New Trends
We find ourselves in the era of the cold war. Two powerful military alliances; the communist and the capitalist camp, stand in confrontational and threatening opposition. The Domino-Theory dominates political thought. Nikita Khrushev, as Stalin’s successor, is the unbounded ruler of the huge Soviet empire and its satellite states. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 to 1961) and John F. Kennedy (1961 to 1963) are his opposite numbers. Particularly in Indochina and Korea, the communist and the capitalist camp oppose each other in bitter ideological wars that bring heavy losses.

From 1950 until 1953 America participates in the Korean War. In June 1953, the worker’s uprising in eastern Berlin is put down by troops belonging to the Russian military. In October 1956 this is followed by the uprising in Hungary under Imre Nagy, who is later executed in Moscow with his co-conspirators in a show trial.

From the 3. August until the 14. September, an exhibition entitled nove tendencije is shown in Zagreb’s City Gallery. In Berlin, ten days later, at Walter Ulbricht’s instigation, the construction of the wall between the GDR and the FRG is begun. The exhibition title was given by the organiser of the exhibition, the Brazilian artist Almir Mavignier . The exhibition organisers locally, the art historian Bozo Bek and Boris Kelemen, as well as the two critics Matko Mestrovic and Radoslav Putar, had asked Almir Mavignier a year earlier to give them the names of artists to be invited. Almir Mavignier also took responsibility for the title. He goes back to the exhibition Stringenz. Nuove tendenze tedesche, which took place in 1959 in the Galleria Pagani del Grattacielo in Milan, in which Mavignier also participated. The title of the exhibition itself implies that the curators and the organiser Almir Mavignier are convinced that they are showing something new and that that which is new is a direction, a current or a trend in contemporary art. What does this mean?

To present something as a trend, means that before this there was no apparent recognisable direction, and that thus a general lack of orientation dominated in the art world and that now (in the view of the curators) a new trend, a new direction was becoming discernable.

However, this is not all. The exhibition namely carries the title in the plural. “New tendencies“, means that there must be at least two different, new tendencies that are presented in the exhibition. Thus in the title itself, the tendency towards the plurality of the arts and to an artistic or ontological relativism of the sort the American philosopher Quine was the first to describe in 1968 are already recognisable. There is no longer only one single artistic truth; rather there are many diverse truths and they stand side by side, equally weighted. So far, so good. But it is exactly into this relativism that the motifs for the later problems and crises which the nove tendencije in Zagreb suffer, are inbuilt. If there is no longer one artistic truth but rather many different ones, the question raised is: how we can distinguish between the artistically real and the artistically false? The apparently generous tolerance of the artists can, and does, rapidly become a question of ideological power. It is exactly on this point that nove tendencije fails. The claim to be pluralistic, relativist and tolerant reveals itself to be an unsolvable conflict.

In October 1962, the Cuba Crisis escalates when the Americans, using aerial photographs, discover that the Soviet Union is stationing strategic atomic missiles on Cuba. The leads to a naval blockade by the USA until Khrushev finally declares himself prepared to dismount and remove the missiles. At the time most eyewitnesses thought that the world stood on the brink of a nuclear war. On the 1. August 1963, the second nove tendencije exhibition opened in Zagreb. Neither in this exhibition nor in the catalogue can one feel the resonance of this particularly difficult, ideological and pivotal situation in contemporary history. In 1964, the USA becomes directly involved in the 2. Indochinese war in Vietnam- which had become the great trauma and disaster of American civil society by 1975- following the naval battle in the Gulf of Tonking.

With the exhibition nova tendencija 3, this was shown from the 13. 08 until the 19.9. 1965, the group fell into a definitive crisis. The title of the exhibition is in the singular. Now there is only a single new trend and no longer many different ones. The time of tolerance and relativism are clearly over. It is now that the question of ideological power is being played out. In a small paragraph at the front of the catalogue it is stated that the singular of the exhibition’s title expresses “the intent towards ideological concentration and the unity of goals” .

But it is already too late. The singular title is no longer enough to halt the group’s drifting apart. Concurrently, the catalogue offers many arguments in order not to falter as a result of the diverse − already irreconcilable? − opinions and points of view. An extensive discussion about the causes of the crisis dominates the texts.

From subjective differences of opinion to the objectivity of the computer
A welcome saviour from the ideological, economical and social contradictions offers itself, as though intentionally, in the form of a new media and a new theory: the computer and information-aesthetics. On it rest all hopes for unity, community and a positive change in social conditions. Information-aesthetics is the last attempt of the 20. century to replace subjective differences of opinion and ideological opposites with a supposedly “objective” analysis of the qualities of artificial objects . A machine or an algorithm knows no difference of opinion
Typically, in Zagreb, there is initially a three to four year pause for thought, before on the 3. and 4. of August 1958 the first colloquium entitled and about Computer and Visual Research is hosted. 17 days later, on the 21. of August 1968, Soviet troops march into Czechoslovakia and put an abrupt end to the Prague Spring under Alexander Dubcek’s government. The climax of the Vietnam war, the Tet Offensive, also occurs in this year. In February 1968 more than
600 000 Vietcong soldiers start a large-scale offensive against the USA. America slowly recognises that the war can no longer be won. It is also the year of student uprisings in Paris and Europe.
The catalogues and symposium contributions contain hardly a trace of any of these earth-shattering and world changing events. As Matko Mestrovic stated in a retrospective in 2004, that it was the period of economic prosperity in socialist Yugoslavia that made the exhibition sequence of the nove tendencije possible. In the west also, a so-called period of “thaw” was spoken of. Following the construction of the wall, the GDR too stabilised economically and politically for some years .

Zagreb 1968
Even following three successful exhibitions in 1961, 1963 and 1965, the nove tendencije clearly finds itself by now in a deep crisis . The motifs of this crisis are of a formal, political nature and it is also a crisis of content. Thus a new medium, the computer, together with the supposedly objective information-aesthetics comes at just the right time to help the exhibition sequence out of its crisis. As with every new medium, the computer is greeted euphorically and it is wildly speculated upon how it might change and improve society. The dream of an interactive artwork and thereby of an interactive society is created. It clings to the computer like a Utopia, and later to television, as the new mass medium, for a “positive” change in social conditions . This invisible shift as a result of a crisis is clearly the trigger for the intent of the organisers nove tendencije to focus more now on information aesthetics and computer art.
The magazine “bit“
In 1968 the magazine bit with Bozo Bek as the head and editor in chief is founded. The design is by Ivan Picelj, a member of the important Yugoslavian artist group Exat 51 . Initially it is to come out quarterly, as is noted in the imprint of the second volume; this implies a very ambitious project. In 1968, three volumes come out. In 1969, only two come out, in 1970 none is printed and in 1971 and 1972, one volume is published in each year. This is the end of the ambitious project.
Volume 1 with the title The theory of information and the new aesthetics contains texts by Matko Mestrovic, Abraham Moles (3 texts), Max Bense und Radoslav Putar (fig. xx). The second volume, which is published by Boris Kelemen und Radoslav Putar concerns itself for the first time with the subject Computer and Visual Research. From now on the magazine is called bit international. The third edition reproduces the texts from the first international colloquium about Computers and Visual Research on the 3. and 4. of August 1968. On the 5. and 6. of May 1969 a second Colloquium on the subject “Computers and Visual research” takes place in Zagreb. The texts of this second symposium are published in 1971 in volume 7 of bit international under the title Dialogue with the Machine, in addition to six more text contributions which do not refer to a presentation at the conference itself. The last double volume of bit international 8/9 turns its focus logically towards the mass medium of television. The title is: Television today. Television and culture. The language of television experiments (fig. xx). It was published by Vera Horvat-Pintaric. As she writes in the preface, the idea was born in 1969- the editorial office had already closed in 1971- but due to “insurmountable difficulties“ the volume only came out in late October 1972. The activities of the nove tendencije thus also essentially encompass 12 years of art from 1961 to 1973 and are an important interface between the beginnings of concrete art in the sixties and the interactive media art of the seventies.

The Dream of an interaction in concrete art
The art of the fifties, of abstract expressionism and of informalism, was an art of the loner. After the collapse of European culture in the Second World War, artists such as Fautrier, Schumacher or Pollock question particularly the undeniable fact of their own existence. In the subjective lines and traces of their paintings and drawings they reassured themselves that they were still alive. The trace was the direct proof of their existence. I draw, therefore I am. It was an autistic, completely self reflexive art. Concrete art in the early sixties reacted to this hypertrophic subjectivism by attempting to present objective, provable facts and connections. It is precisely this shift which represents the “new tendencies”, to which the Zagreb exhibition titles refer. The shift to objectivity and the determined anti-subjectivism can be recognised in Max Bense’s information aesthetic. The Düsseldorf group Zero is the first international art movement on a European level, with cooperating partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy.
Its development runs parallel with the creation of the EEC. The treaties for the founding of the European Economic Community and the European Nuclear Community were signed by the six member of the monetary union- France, Italy, Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg- on the 25. March 1957. In addition it was one of the first international art movements after the second world war which sought a direct, active relationship to the beholder instead of turning inwards to the own self and burying oneself in the problems of ones psyche.

It was concrete art that clearly expressed that it was ultimately the beholder who was responsible for what he sees, understands and experiences aesthetically . Umberto Eco with his open artwork is the historical crown witness of these developments. The influential and much read key-work Opera aperta which was printed in 1962 in Milan by Bompiani and based on a contribution to the XII international Philosophy Congress in Venice in 1958, was a book that clearly illustrated the role and responsibility of the beholder in the interpretation and understanding of artworks . Art works, in Eco’s opinion were open and unclear systems that were only brought to completion through the concrete act of interpretation by the beholder.

It is only in this way that the title The Responsive Eye an exhibition curated by William Seitz in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1965, can be understood. Many artists of the Concrete Art movement make the active movement of the beholder in front of the work of art or within the room installation a prerequisite of aesthetic experience. They establish a strict, structural linkage between the bodily movement of the beholder and the change in surface of their work resulting from this. The emergence of the surface from then on was directly linked with the physical movement of the beholder in time and space. The surface of the pictures became interactive with the mutual sensations, that on the one hand called for a reaction of movement from the beholder and on the other the demand of the beholder’s movement for a structural change in the surface of the work. Aesthetic experience became an experience of bodily movement and an experience of mutual interaction in which the meaning of the art work was constructed from a bodily movement in a space of social interaction.
In 1963, in Yale, the German emigrant Josel Albers published his programmatic school of color under the title Interaction of Color. It is latest in this moment that the relationship between concrete art and the understanding of interaction can no longer be denied . The earliest use of the term interaction by Josef Albers, as far as I known, can be found in the 1953 Bulletin of Yale University Division of Arts where his course, which was previously simply called “color”, was now called “the interaction of color”
In Concrete Art, the physical movement of the beholder’s interaction led to a virtual reaction. It was still an apparent movement and an apparent change on the surface of the picture. In concrete art, interaction was still a symbolic “as-if”, a symbolical act, as it is inherent in every art. In the words of the American social psychologist Herbert Blumer it was a form of symbolically mediated interaction . Concrete art thus continued to strive eagerly towards effects, which computer art later managed easily to solve.
Kinetic art went one step further in this attempt. It tried to transform the virtual or symbolic interaction through the movement of the beholder into an actual, mechanical movement of the artwork. Here for there were two types of objects, kinetically charged objects which also moved when there was no beholder and objects that only moved or changed their aesthetic state if they were so triggered by the interaction of a beholder. The simplest form of this was using a foot pedal. But there were definitely also much more complex interactive environments and installations into which the beholder could move and in which he could, through his movements, gestures, gesticulations and expressions, release changes in light, sound or color which in turn would affect his movements, gestures and gesticulations by influencing and changing his reactions to these changes. Exciting early examples of these works were the installations of the exhibition Art Light Art in the Stedelijk Museum Eindhoven in 1966, where for example Gruppo T (Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gianni Colombo, Gabriele de Vecchi, Grazia Varisco) installed an interactive light and mirror room, or, another example, the works of the legendary exhibition Lights in Orbit from 4.2. to the 4.3.1967 in the Howard Wise Gallery, New York . From here it was only a small step towards the inclusion of computers and videos in interactive exhibition situations.

The history of the term interaction
Surprisingly there has so far been no attempt to etymologise  the term “interaction“, Although there are numerous handbooks and lexicons, which discuss the term extensively, there is no historical representation of this prominent term.   Thus the author has conducted his own research of the term.
The term interaction appears to have first been used in the relevant literature in the late 19th century . In social psychology it is used, for the first time, to my knowledge, by George Herbert Mead, in 1904 in an early text as well as in some essays following shortly after that which date from the years up to about 1910 . The surprising thing is that Mead never explicitly introduces or defines this important term but uses it, with all its implications, almost in passing. This is somewhat confusing as it seems to imply that this term is well known and has been fully introduced by this time. In 1908 the term also appears in the writing of Edward Alsworth Ross , a Chicagoan colleague of Meads. The term Interaction thus seems to have already been common in the environment of the Chicago Institute for Sociology.

In contrast, the term referring to symbolic or symbolically mediated interaction only appears later in social psychology literature. The social psychologist Herbert Blumer states that he first used it in 1937 in an essay in the anthology Man and Society . In addition it appears again in the title of a Chicagoan dissertation from 1943 . Thus it is not accurate that, as Carl-Friedrich Graumann states, the term was introduced by Herebert Blumer in 1969 . With respect to the temporal parallel to the nove tendencije exhibitions in Zagreb it is also of interest that the American sociologist Erving Goffman published his book Encounters. Sociology of Interaction in 1961; in this he re-introduced the term interaction with great affect into sociological debate of post-war America. This was followed in 1967 by the book Interaction Ritual, 1969 Strategic Interaction. In 1970 Michael Argyle published his main work Social Interaction.

In terms of educational history, the moment in which the term interaction entered dictionaries and encyclopaedias is of particular interest, because this means that this term is now frequent in society, that it is made use of and required in speech, but that is new and unfamiliar in daily life and therefore is defined in the newest edition of a dictionary. Let us look more precisely when the term entered the Grossen Brockhaus and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is only in 1970, namely in the 17th totally re-worked twenty volume edition of the Brockhaus encyclopaedia that the keyword interaction first appears:

Interaction [lat.], the mutual relationship between the individuals within a society, or respectively, communication in groups. Two people interact when the actions of one partner are influenced in their form and extent by those of the other. The relationship can be one-sided, two-sided, and often also reciprocal. The simplest examples are conversations, cooperative working, games (chess), sport competitions (tennis). Several people can be involved in the interaction. With increasing social distance generally the willingness for reciprocal interaction declines. The more frequent the reciprocal interaction between two people, the more positive the emotional relationship between them (-> Society1). To catch the occurrences in interacting groups, e.g. during group discussions, R. F. Bales (1950) has developed empirical methods. . R. F. BALES: Interaction process analysis (Cambridge, Mass., 1950; german in: Prakt. Sozialforschung, hg. V. R. König, 2, 21962); P. R. H0FSTÄTTER: Social Psychology (31967); G. C. HOMANS :Theory of the social group (31968).

The term is first taken into the Encyclopaedia Britannica even later. It is only in 1974, in the 15th edition, that the terms interaction and interactionism can be found . The term interaction is thus a term that only entered the encyclopaedias and the big dictionaries at a surprisingly late stage, namely only in 1970. Before this it was clearly only used as a specialist term in specialist, scientific discourses.

Interaction in computer science
According to Söke Dinkla the term interaction was carried over in the sixties from sociology to Computer Sciences . In 1960, in an article entitled "Man-Machine-Symbiosis", the engineer J.C.R. Licklider already speaks of a cooperative interaction between man and computer, which however he still saw as a matter of the future.
However, latest in 1980, was his euphoric conviction, computers would be in the position to think faster and in more complexity than the human brain. He talks of a cooperative interaction between man and computer. Directly at the beginning of his essay he writes:
Man-Computer symbiosis is an expected development in cooperative interaction between men and electronic computers.
In numerous essays and publications of the early sixties, the terms interaction and interactive appear in connection with computer technology , but not yet in connection to computer art. This only occurs in the late sixties . Nicholas Negroponte uses the term Interaction in connection with computer-supported architecture design in 1969.

In contrast, the term Interactivity however is not available in the early sixties discourse. It is clearly defined by the nineties. It appears in the first half of the nineties in connection with the media art and media theory that was developing and rapidly broadening at the time. Interactivity, from the very beginning is used in the context of media art, while the terms Interaction or interactive are used already in the context of the discussion concerning Man-Machine interfaces in computer development.

During the first colloquium Computers and Visual Research in Zagreb on the 3. and 4. of August 1968, two researchers, Bozo Tezak and Branimir Makanec, deliberately use the term interaction in connection with computer and computer art. Bozo Tezak of the Mathematical Faculty of the University of Zagreb uses as his starting point the interaction of nuclear physics between physical units such as atoms or ions. However, despite this, he never loses sight of the social macro level of the discussion.

... we must not lose sight of the extraordinary complexity of the man-to-man-interaction, neither should we forget that operating between man and the product of another man.

In his expositions on the level of the interaction of inorganic ions he asks the question; with which frequency can one transfer this phenomenon of systematic interaction on a molecular level to a world of emotional and intellectual interaction between physio-psychic-sociological units ? He thus carries over his atomic model of interaction onto the level of society. He suggests as a possible answer the search for the new definition of system, sub-system and elementary units in the performance of multidimensional occurrences. Also in terms of the aesthetic judgement and the aesthetic handling of artistic creations he sees in the multidimensional system of computer theory and practice a possibility for new foundations. He comes to the conclusion:

It is safe to assume that the visual elements are to play therein the decisive role as essential factors of the human consciousness both in the active and passive ways and that they are to influence the entire sphere of interactions between computer and man. That is the reason why the themes of computers and visual research are of the paramount importance.

Branimir Makanec, professor for [... ](zavod za unapredenje osnovnog obrazovanja srh, zagrab)
follows on from this text. His contribution is entitled The role of interaction in artistic expression aided by the computer. His starting point is the cybernetic phenomenon of feedback . In his opinion the computer can facilitate the interaction between the artist and his public. It has become possible for artists to write a so-called interactive program which enables a direct and unmediated contact by the public to an artwork, and in this way the public gains a much more intense impression of the work. Here the optimism that an interactive program makes possible a “direct” contact and “more intense” impressions than traditional paintings, becomes clear. As all possible reactions of the public are considered in such an interactive program, it enables the public to play an active role in the experience of an artwork. The computer thus seems with ease to make possible that which Concrete art was laboriously attempting through the changes of surfaces through light and movement and which kinetic art, equally laboriously attempted through mechanical construction .
In traditional art production the public was, in Makanec’s view, exclusively involved in passive “observation”. In an interactive program, however, each action of the computer causes a reaction in the participant. In this way, the spiral of action and reaction, thus a chain of interaction, is set in motion. The example that Makanec introduces here is, from today’s perspective, relatively simple. He comes to the conclusion that the subject of interaction should be considered from the perspective of a direct, communicative connection with the computer.

The dream of interaction in Video art
Video art also is interested in interaction with the beholder. The earliest works of Nam June Paik in 1963 are televisions whose pictures on the screens can be influenced and manipulated by a strong magnet. Through a direct action (the turning of the magnet) the beholder can change the picture. The chain of interaction begins with an action of the beholder, who causes a reaction in the art work. This in turn induces another new reaction in the beholder, which in turn leads to a reaction or a change in the condition of the artwork. In this way a dyadic chain of interaction is rapidly evolves. The relationship between video artists and the institution of television as a mass media is shaped from the beginning by mutual distrust. Those in positions of responsibility in Television in the late sixties and early seventies want- if at all- only in the rarest cases a social interaction with the television viewers.

Important areas of video art however frequently aim at this type of interactive exchange, as for example do the early video installations of Dan Graham. Here the new medium is seen, in the same way as the computer was, as a medium for education, explanation or for the change in society. There are however also a few examples in which video artists could produce their art for and with television. In 1968, the legendary programme Black Gate Cologne is broadcast by WDR Cologne, in which, among others, artists such as Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini participated. In 1969 in Boston an interactive television program called The Medium Is the Medium was broadcast and in which the performance and fluxus artist Allan Kaprow installed the interactive live television program Hello in the city region of Boston. These are two examples of the rare meeting of video art and traditional mass television.

The dream of an interactive artwork
Lets come back, in conclusion, to the social and ideological motifs that underlie the dream of an interactive artwork and an interactive socity. Very generally it can be stated that the self-evident does not need to be talked about, written about or debated. Therefore, if a particular topic emerges in different social fields on an international level, one can state that this subject has become a problem for the self-identity and transformation of society and must therefore be discussed and theoretically grasped. If social interaction between people in the society is no longer self-evident, one has to explore it, explain it and introduce it in new technological media, in the hope that the misguided society will now turn back and transform in the positive desired way. This is particularly repeatedly articulated in the numerous catalogue contributions of nova tendencija 3.
In a society, in which the other has become the class enemy, the communist informer, the capitalist businessman, or simply a stranger, the face-to-face interaction of an interpersonal encounter has become an important and central societal problem. Instead of symbolically employed distance, “direct contact” and “deep insight” is finally possible once again. This means nothing more than that, until now, only indirect contact and superficial insights have occurred. The dream of an interactive society is the dream of a mutual encounter with the other as someone who is and thinks like oneself. It is the dream of a “direct” dialogue with the other as a stranger, the phantasm of social identity and social meaning through mutual dialogue. And this in a time in which this desire and interest was no longer possible due to the tense political, economical and social situation. It is no wonder, that the dream of an interactive society ends very quickly and is overlaid by other societal and social phantasms.

                  Walter Benjamin: Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, Frankfurt am Main 1974, P.61

Almir Mavignier: New tendencies – a surprising coincidence in: Exhibition Catalogue tendencje 4, Zagreb 1970, [P. no. s.a]

                  Willard van Orman Quine: Ontologische Relativität und andere Schriften. Stuttgart: Reclam 1975, Pp.41-96

                  Exhibition catalogue nova tendencija 3. galerija suvremene umjetnosti, muzej za umjetnost i obrt, centar za industrijsko oblikovanje. Zagreb, 13.VIII – 19.IX. 1965, P.4

                  "Only such a rational-empirical, objective-material conception of aestetics can get rid of the speculative art waffle of criticism and make disppear the pedagoical irrationalism of our academies” Max Bense: Einführung in die informationstheoretische Ästhetik. Grundlegung und Anwendung in der Texttheorie. Reinbek: Rowohlt 1969, P.8.

                  Holm Sundhausen: Experiment Jugoslawien. Von der Staatsgründung bis zum Staatszerfall. Mannheim [among others.]: B.I.-Taschenbuchverlag 1993, P.116 and following.; Tomislav Sunic: Titoism and Dissidence. Studies in the History and Dissolution of Communist Yugoslavia. Frankfurt am Main [among others]; Peter Lang  1995, P.51-68; Leslie Benson: Yugoslavia: A Concise History. Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan 2004, P. 111 - 131

                  Compare  Boris Kelemen in t4, tendencije 4, Exhibition catalogue Zagreb 1968-69 [above P.], contributions by Marc Adrian, Alberto Biasi and Matko Mestrovic in bit international no.3, 1968, which refer to this crisis and offer subjective explanations for it such as well as Matko Mestrovic recently in 2004 in the Symposium Stuttgart 1960. Computer in Theorie und Kunst. (

                  see Vera Horvat-Pintaric (Hg.): Television Today. Television and Culture. The language of television experiments. Bit International, Bd. 8-9, 1972.

                  Compare Dubravka Djuric/Misko Suvakovic (Hg.): Impossible Histories. Historical Avant-gardes, Neo-avant-gardes, and Post-avant-gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991. Cambridge, Mass.,London: MIT Press 2003, S.178-183; as well as the exhibition catalogue exat 51 & new tendencies avantgarde. Exhibition catalogue Centro Cultural de Cascais, Portugal May – June 2001; Jesa Denegri/ Zelimir Kosemic: Exat 51. 1951-56. Zagreb: Centar zakulturnu djelatnostsso, 1979.

                  Thus for example Julio Le Parc in September 1963 at the XII. Convegno Internazionale artisti, critici, studiosi d'arte in Rimini: "We want to arouse the interest of the beholder, to free him of his own ties, to help him to relax. We want his participation in actions and situations that he alone and consciously can change and move. We want his appearance in interaction with other beholders. We want to develop in him the strong ability for perception and action" Quoted in Manfredo Massironi: kriticke primjedbe o teoretskim prilozima unutar nove tendencije od 1959. do 1964. godine (=Critical comments on the theoretical contributions to the NT from 1959 until 1964); in: Exhibition catalogue for. nova tendencija 3. Zagreb 1965, P.30.

                  Umberto Eco: The Open Artwork. Frankfurt am Main 1977, P.31: "The poetry of the >open< artwork strives, ..., to cause in the interpreter the >act of conscious freedom < to make him the active center of a network of inexhaustible relationships, .... " – "The meaning of the subjective part of reception (the fact that his reception is an interactive relationship between subject that >views<, and implies the work to be an objective given) had – particularly in the fine arts – not escaped the old." (P. 32)

                  One can read this quite clearly in the pieces of Frank Popper’s curated exhibition Licht Kunst Licht, 1966 im Stedelijk Museum Eindhoven.

                  See text by Josef Albers: Interaction of Color. In: Art News, no. 62, March 1963, P. 33-35, 56-59 and Donald Judd: Interaction of Color; in: Arts Magazine, November 1963, 67, 73-75. A special investigation to find out where Albers took the term interaction from would be worthwhile. With who was he befriended at the time and with whom did he have an intellectual exchange? Who taught Sociology or social psycology at the same time as Albers was in Yale?

                  I thank Fred Horowitz, Ann Arbor, for this insight.

                  Herbert Blumer: Symbolic Interactionism. Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, N.Y.: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1969

                  See for example the informative development of the explanation in the exhibition catalogue.

                  Not even the otherwise thoroughly researched Historische Wörterbuch der Philosophie refers to this term.

         See for example the book on Parapsychology by Edmund Gurney, Frederic W. H. Myers and Frank Podmore: Phantasms of the Living. London, Rooms of the Society for psychical research; Trübner and co., 1886,

                  George Herbert Mead: The relationships between psycology and philology(1904); Social psychology as the opposite of physiological psychology (1909); Social consciousness and the consciousness of meanings (1910), all in Gesammelte Aufsätze. Volume 1, Translated by Klaus Laermann and others. Published by Hans Joas. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1980, P.179,199, 219.

                  Edward Alsworth Ross: Social Psychology. An Outline and a Source Book. New York: Macmillan 1908.

                  Schmidt, Emerson P. (Hg.). Man and Society. A Substantive Introduction to the Social Sciences. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1937; see also Herbert Blumer: Symbolic Interactionism. Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, N.Y.: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1969, P.1

                  Rasmussen, Albert Terrill: The implications of the theory of symbolic interaction for the establishment of ethical principles. PH. D. thesis, University of Chicago, 1943.

                  Carl-Friedrich Graumann: Interaktion; in: Roland Asanger/Gerd Wenninger (publishers.): Handwörterbuch Psychologie. Weinheim: Beltz 1999, P.325

                  Brockhaus Enzyklopädie in twenty volumes. 17., new edition. Volume 9, Wiesbaden: Brockhaus 1970, P. 168. In the extra volume 22 from 1975, the term was expanded to include the meaning in biology and social sciences.: "Interaction (Bd. 9), Biology: the mutual interaction of parts of an organism amongst themselves, particularly in the stage of development; also in the cell center, the interaction  of a number of genes among themselves. Social science field particularly the mutual social relationships are explored where particularly linguistic process are considered. Following G. H. Mead these are defined as >symbolic interaction.<. The theory of interactionism has particularly found resonance in the pedagogic field and lead to the conceptualisation of an interaction pedagogy, this aims to build up authoritative educator behaviour and led to the beginnings of group pedagogy (volume 7) The interaction pedagogy is particularly of importance in the framework of youth education work and teaching of grownups where role play as a form of decision training and rational conflict over coming is given particular weight. G. H. MEAD: Spirit, Identity and society (a. d. Amerikan., 1968, Tb. 1973); M. ARGYLE: Social I. (a. d. Engl., 1972); Symbolic I., hg. v. H. STEINERT (1973, mit Lit.); F. ZÖCHBAUER u. H. HOEKSTRA Communication training(1974); J. FRITZ u. a.: I.-Pedagogy (1975)."

                  The New Encyclopaedia Britannica in 30 Volumes. Micropaedia, Vol. 5: Hermoup – Lally. Chicago [u.a.]: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 1974, P. 377

                   Söke Dinkla: Pioniere interaktiver Kunst von 1970 bis heute. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag 1997, P.14.

                  J.C.R. Licklider: Man-Computer Symbiosis. In: IRE Transactions On Human Factors in Electronics;: Vol. HFE-1, No. 1, March 1960, P.4. The way of thinking is typical for the phantasmatic projections of the USA’s military arm.

                  Only as examples, here are his following titles: Sonquist, John A./ James N. Morgan: The detection of interaction effects; a report on a computer program for the selection of optimal combinations of explanatory variables, Ann Arbor: Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan [1964]; Connelly, John Waldo: Summary of portions of design for a universal classification of information on social interaction for use in electronic computers; [Washington?] c1966.; Melvin Klerer / Juris Reinfelds (Hg.): Interactive systems for experimental applied mathematics; ACM Symposium on Interactive Systems for Experimental Mathematics, Washington, D.C., 1967. New York, Academic Press, 1968.

                  1969 a symposium about computer graphics took place: Lawrence K. Grodman (Hg.): Interactive Graphics—Where is the Market? This one-day symposium, conducted by Keydata Institute, ... was held on May 13, 1969, at John Hancock Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. Watertown, Mass., Keydata Corp., 1969 [132 P.]

                  Nicholas Negroponte: The Architecture Machine. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 1970, S.101:" ... the interface is the point of contact and interaction between a machine and the 'information environment,' most often the physical environment itself."

                  bit international no.3, 1968, P.67

                  ibid, S.70

                  ibid, S.70

                  ibid S. 76

                  The irony of fate has it that the laboriously created mechanical construction of kinetic art are mainly still extant today and also still functioning- after conservational methods.  However, of the earlier, interactive programs nothing remains but some prints, photos or sketches. The programs themselves disappeared together with the equipment and machines.

                  Compare for example the American group TVTV, who intended a decided attempt at counter publicity through video broadcasts in television.

                  Concerning the term social phantasma see Slavoj Zizkek: Die Pest der Phantasmen. Die Effizienz des Phantasmatischen in den neuen Medien. Wien: Passagen Verlag 1997 and Hans Dieter Huber: Phantasie; in: Hans Dieter Huber, Bettina Lockemann, Michael Scheibel: Visuelle Netze. Wissensräume in Kunst und Wissenschaft. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz 2004, P. 175 - 216


Hans Dieter Huber