Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathNarration
Lorna (Hershman, Lynn), 1979Deep Contact; The First Interactive Sexual Fantasy Videodisc (Hershman, Lynn), 1984The Surprising Spiral (Feingold, Ken)
The Narrative Landscape (Erzählerische Landschaft) (Shaw, Jeffrey), 1985Sonata (Weinbren, Grahame), 1991The Exquisite Mechanism of Shivers (Seaman, Bill), 1991

icon: previous page

aesthetic impact within the confines of the medium of literature. This became possible with the computer, a medium in which mental interaction is coupled inseparably with a physical re/activity. The computer as «communication machine» at last fulfilled the longing to make aesthetic experience into an active process and at the same time to transform it into a physical dialogue.

Cybernetics as narrative principle

In interactive art, the new digital medium was used to develop non-linear narrative strategies that make imaginative processes physically tangible. Key pioneers in the field of interactive media art were apparently well aware of the significance and role James Joyce could take on in the conceptualization of the new art form. These vanguard artists include Ken Feingold, Grahame Weinbren, Bill Seaman, Simon Biggs, Jeffrey Shaw, and in another sense also Lynn Hershman, who in her works «Lorna» (1983–1984) and «Deep Contact» (1989–1990) in a way carried Joyce's narrative strategies


to their logical aesthetic conclusion. For these artists, interaction is not only active interpretation, but rather a way of ensuring that the text/image continues to be written by the recipient and ultimately takes on a life of its own in his/her imagination. The stuff of the narrative, no longer organized linearly, becomes dynamic and fluctuating. The story does not yet fully emerge as the author is relating it, but rather only upon interaction with the reader, who has now gone from being an implicit reader to becoming a user.

By contrast with hypertext, however, and also with the rhizome, the point of departure and end point of which almost never correspond with each other, central works in the field of interactive art, similarly to Joyce's «Finnegans Wake» are marked by a circular narrative structure, which at least in part suspends the principles of traditional logic. This structure is particularly noticeable in «The Surprising Spiral» (1991) by Ken Feingold, «The Narrative Landscape» (1985–1995) by Jeffrey Shaw, in Grahame Weinbren's «Sonata» (1991–1993), in «The Exquisite Mechanism of Shivers»

icon: next page