MILWAUKEE.- Playful, intuitive, first of its kindAct/React: Interactive Installation Art makes its world premiere at the Milwaukee Art Museum October 4, 2008January 11, 2009. Showcasing a growing body of contemporary art that is visitor dependentwithout the use of specific interfaces like keyboards or touchscreensthis exhibition of motion-driven installation art empowers guests to exercise their creativity and act on their curiosity. Act/React features the work of six pioneers of responsive art, including an Academy Award-winning Jurassic Park special effects designer, in the Museums Santiago Calatrava-designed Baker/Rowland Galleries.
Imaginatively diverse in both form and function, each of the ten environments in the 10,000-square-foot exhibition space is designed to constructively respond to the physical presence of visitors. There is a table that speaks when touched (Janet Cardiff, To Touch, 1994), a floor of projected, colorful forms that reconfigure in the wake of passing visitors (Brian Knep, Healing Pool, 2008), and walls of painterly projections that respond to brushstrokes of human movement (Camille Utterback, External Measures 2003, 2003; Untitled 5, 2004; Untitled 6, 2005). Liz Phillips contributes a room of responsive neon lights and synthesized sound (Echo Evolution, 1999), while Daniel Rozins Peg Mirror (2007) and Snow Mirror (2005) configure and reflect captivating portraits. Scott Snibbes Boundary Functions (1998) and Deep Walls (2003) bring visitors together in works that require more than one participant.
Technologies that respond to our actions are already so commonplace that we barely notice themdoors that automatically open, elevators that arrive with the press of a button. The immersive environments of Act/React bring to the foreground these background systems, and repurpose them. They replace convenience with power, allowing visitors to control their surroundings and become reacquainted with their immediate environment, themselves, and each other.
If in the last century the crisis of representation was resolved by new ways of seeing, then in the twenty-first century the challenge is for artists to suggest new ways of experiencing. Through interactivity, contemporary artists mirror, distort, and confuse the audiences experience not of representation but of reality itself, notes guest curator George Fifield, founder of the renowned Boston Cyberarts Festival. This is contemporary art about contemporary existence.
Act/React is guest curated by George Fifield, founding director of Boston Cyberarts, Inc., and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Curatorial Assistant John McKinnon.