(a)live and interactive environments


A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design by Bret Victor
The Curious Interface by Jane McGonigal



click on the frame below and type something on your keyboard…

Jody Zellen

Take a look at Jody Zellen’s website. A lot of interesting and varied work, including:


Live at the Lab from SUE-C on Vimeo.

Bjork’s Biophilia, Eno’s Bloom, and other A/V iOS apps

Holly Herndon

Interactive A/V Videogames


Optional / More Examples…

O Superman

Laurie Anderson

Simone Giertz and Her Ingenious Robot Helpers


Collaboration between Eli Stine, Fernando Rocha, and myself…


akiko hatakeyama

8 Thoughts

  • Susan Grochmal

    I really like this stuff, interactive things give the person a sense of control, making decisions sets a personal stake

    I played Patatap for a while that was nice, with things like this and Jody Zellen’s work it is fun to explore all the combinations, the work is played by the observer

    Live at the Lab was crazy because seeing those hands made me feel that in my hands and made the disintegration relatable

    The Biophilia app was really cool too

    I agree with Holly Herndon, makes it easier for people to form a connection with the interactive video, makes the atmosphere/art more alive

    Panoramical is mesmerizing because you feel like you are moving with the images, even though you are not really controlling anything you attach yourself to the surrogate

  • Gillian

    I want to comment specifically on the Rant which was the first reading, because it’s the problem I had but never knew how to express but for years. I am so crestfallen re: how our BODIES (or, our hands) don’t interact with the world as much as human bodies did in the 20s or the 90s. Not only do our hands do impressive things and have endless capabilities, but I also think that there is a profound satisfaction in physical connection like that. I, for example, feel so hollow when I hear an elevator ding that’s a pre-recorded “ding” noise playing out of a speaker. When I hear an old elevator ding because the arrival of the elevator triggers a bell to ring, I can HEAR the physical contact of lever on bell and feel satisfaction from understanding that system. Even the satisfaction of listening to vinyl instead of a song through one’s phone speakers comes from the fact that a physical connection has resulted in the sounds. I think that this rant is not just a rant about touch screens, but a six-year-old idea for an ideal world which has only gotten worse. The iPhone 7 (or something) no longer has a button (which one can feel push inward) but instead has a circular spot which senses a fingerprint. We are no longer forced to, or allowed to, physically engage with our world, and I think it’s psychologically starving us. The author of this rant is really onto something—if technology could be so advanced while allowing humans to feel the world, the world would be a better place.

    • Michelle

      I loved this rant. I agree with Gillian that physical connection is certainly more satisfying, like hearing a “ding” from a real bell rather than a noise from a speaker, and kind of like the difference between shooting on 16mm film vs. shooting HD. I find these ideas particularly interesting and challenging to form an opinion about because in some ways, simplifying our interaction with the world to a one-finger, pictures-behind-screens approach actually allows more people to access certain experiences (such as someone who experiences muscle weakness in their hands, like myself), but at the same time I also see how this can be sensorially depriving and, as Gillian says, totally psychologically starving. As someone who often interacts with the physical world in atypical ways, I’m super interested in Victor’s emphasis on expanding our aspirations for technology and pushing for more innovative visions.

  • Lona

    It’s really great to see all the sorts of interactivity happening in these videos. I initially thought interactivity would refer to things like the biophilia app, where sound has a direct interaction with the images, but I’m realizing that it can take on many forms. The game-like pieces, like patatap and zellen’s work were super fun to play with, and I like that every person who interacts with these pieces gets there own personalized experience. Also, herndon’s mention of interaction between artists is something I’m really interested in. I think that there is something really special about collaboration, especially when each person has their own distinct style. The interaction of those styles can be soooo awesome and it opens up possibilities that you can’t have by yourself.

  • Matt

    Man, I wasn’t planning on spending 20 minutes tonight punching in random keys on my keyboard. But there was something absolutely addicting about Patatap. While the animations themselves are very satisfying, and undoubtedly there is a configuration of them that is more universally pleasing that you could program, it’s the feedback itself that is the secret sauce. When you hit a key and immediately trigger an animation, there is a sense of involvement and immersion that exceeds something you are simply watching. My body registering a connection between my physical action and what my senses are observing incorporates the piece into my personal space. To a limited degree the process on screen becomes an extension of my body.

    I actually read the writing after watching/interacting with the visual content, which I actually preferred. Reading both perspectives, especially the rant after seeing a strong demonstration of the importance of interaction, really made me thing about how human’s have approached technology. While we seem to always move away from “human” constraints, we can see a clear preference in the long run towards designs that favor our natural bodies. Mechanical keyboards with satisfying action and mouses that best exploit the dexterity of fingers still dominate the world of gaming and developing. Devices that work well with our natural form will always be the ones we can best take advantage of.

  • Isabella

    Interactive environments provide a unique way of communicating with an audience. Viewers are given the ability to manipulate a creation for themselves, blurring the lines between artist and observer. By building games, apps, and structures for people to interact with physically, artists are additionally passing along the role of an “artist.” The outcome of a piece becomes a collage of various, unique interactions.

    Patatap was a fun way of instantly creating sounds and images. Games like patatap seem like a simple way to get “unmusical” people to play instruments without even thinking about it. I was also shocked by the quality of the sound! A computer keyboard seems less intimidating than an instrument to many people, and without even realizing it, people are able to create musical sounds.

  • Sophie Fields

    Ok patatap was definitely the best part of these examples for me. I spent so long just typing out sentences and combinations….I only wish there was an option to record the combinations that you can type out so you can watch them again later. I think that things like these easily allow viewers/participants to feel like they are an artist or a creator in a sense, which is probably why people are intrigued by these types of art. Participation and manipulation give the viewer a feeling of POwER!!! woohoooo That said…. AGREE with Gillian about physical interaction with things in the world…I think it is important to be aware of. After I read your comment, I realized I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about an elevator bell if it was a physical ding or not, because I am so used to everything being pre-recorded etc….going off of that, this is just echoing the debate about generational differences possibly? For example how my dad doesn’t see the merit in taking film photos or listening to records nowadays because it’s so much easier/simpler to him to listen to music on your phone or take photos digitally… I can never really explain to him why it is somehow more gratifying to listen to vinyl but I guess the physicality of it is probably the reason, Gillian articulated it nicely…

  • Ori

    When I look at these types of works, I think a lot about “affordances”. Every system here is designed to enable a particular set of interactions while constraining other. I feel like interactivity sort of shifts the level where the artist’s craft really unfolds. Instead of personality or skill coming through in the creation/presentation of particular audio or visual forms, it’s embedded in the assemblage of rules used to create and drive the system and then comes out in the different ways people play with those rules… This also leads to questions of who the actual creator of the piece is. In a lot of ways, these systems democratize creation by giving people the tools to make their own pieces (whether we’re playing a particular app like patatap or using software to make an interactive piece like Herndon was talking about), but at the same time what you do is restricted by the designer’s choices… BUT participants can also always find ways of subverting the artist’s original intentions to produce things the artist never imagined. So in that way, meaning/feeling/art emerges in a sort of mediated dialogue between interaction designer and participant.. and I can only begin to imagine the interesting ways this dichotomy of designer/participant could be challenged by different systems so the power dynamic isn’t so straightforward. I think the most interesting version of this is when an artist creates a system and then actually uses it to perform, which totally collapses the designer/participant thing, but I also find socially-situated interaction more interesting so that’s why Herndon’s emphasis on collabs between differently specialized artists struck me too..