Living Art: An Exploration of Interactive Art Installations

By Prisco, Brianna | Art Education, September 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Living Art: An Exploration of Interactive Art Installations


Prisco, Brianna, Art Education


Before high school students step outside of the classroom and bring their work into the world, educators can help them understand that art is not solely for self-expression and beauty. Art and design can enable a voice to be heard, address social issues, engage the public, and evoke critical thought. This Instructional Resource introduces four works by collectives of artists: the Rain Room, 21 Balançoires, Measuring the Universe, and Green Pedestrian Crossing. Each work invites thousands of participants to engage and create new collective forms of the art.

I am an aspiring teacher, currently enrolled in Syracuse University's Masters of Art Education Program. My background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with experience in interior architecture, retail display artistry, visual merchandising, and real practical life. These experiences have enabled me to solidify my own passion for educating youth. I want to join those who strive for a cohesive world through participatory teaching and learning with our students.

Interaction in artistic work and participation as theorists-as idea-makers-is a way for students to gain insight into the world of living art, where artists address issues from environmental responsibility to collaboration and teamwork. The installations in this resource invite the public to become a part of the art, enticing them to actively participate. These creators strive to shatter the notion of the viewer being separate from the work and invite them to bring the missing link, life, into a design.

This resource offers suggested projects, through collaboration, where students create their own plan for a public installation. Students do not physically create the work, only theorize. The goal is to remove any restrictions on what their imaginations can create. They may not have the means to physically create a digitally responsive Rain Room (RH contemporary art, 2015), but they can surely create it in their imagination.

Links to videos are necessary to be used in conjunction with photographs. The videos are a vital tool for students to see deeper into the experience of each installation and formulate their own analyses.

Rain Room

* About the Work

Random International, founded by Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass, and Hannes Koch, focuses on collaborating with diverse individuals to create installations that explore our human interactions and responses. The Rain Room was first installed in the Barbican Centre in London, UK.

The weather is something that, as humans, we try to deeply understand and almost control. Yet, mother nature always prevails as champion. In the Rain Room, visitors are able to have a different experience with weather. As you enter, the falling water will pause wherever you are located, giving you the feeling of control, a unity with the power struggle between weather and human existence. With the use of digital technology, a dance happens between water and visitor.

Wayne McGregor, a multi-award-winning British choreographer and director, created a compelling piece where dancers would perform throughout the duration of the installation. Whether it was in London or New York City, visitors would enter the Rain Room and not only have their own experience, but witness the grace and fluidity of McGregor's dance company. McGregor expressed the importance of using your body to interact with the installation through his choreography.

Over three years, Rain Room was installed in Barbican Centre, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Yuz Musuem, Shanghai.

While writing this article, I reached out to my dear friend and mentor Lauren Hunter, director of Home Showrooms at Ralph Lauren, to gain some insight into the Rain Room. When the installation was at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2013, Lauren and her mother waited among the curious to see the mystery of the Rain Room for themselves. Lauren honestly recalled, "I wasn't really convinced it would live up to all the hype surrounding it, but my mom was really interested, driven, and determined to go. …

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