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Interactive Art and Embodiment: The Implicit Body as Performance

What is interactive art? Is this a genre? A medium? An art movement? Must a work be physically active to be classified as such, or do we interact when we sense and make sense? Is a switch-throw or link-click enough - I do this, and that happens - or must subjects and objects be confused over time? Is interaction multiple in its engagements (relational), or a one-to-one reaction (programmed)? Are interactive designs somehow more democratic and individualized than others, or is that merely a commercial strategy to sell products and ideas?

This book argues that interactive art frames moving-thinking-feeling as embodiment; the body is addressed as it is formed, and in relation. Interactive installations amplify how the body's inscriptions, meanings, and matters unfold out, while the world's sensations, concepts, and matters enfold in. Interactive artwork creates situations that enhance, disrupt, and alter experience and action in ways that call attention to our varied relationships with and as both structure and matter.

Nathaniel Stern's inspirational book, Interactive Art and Embodiment, outlines how new media has the ability to intervene in, and challenge, not only the construction of bodies and identities, but also the ongoing and emergent processes of embodiment, as they happen. It includes immersive descriptions of a significant number of interactive artworks and over 40 colour images.

The theorists, artists, practitioners and curators discussed in this text include Brian Massumi, Christiane Paul, Sarah Cook, Beryl Graham, Kelli Fuery, Theodore Watson, William Kentridge, Char Davies, Stelarc, Janet Cardiff, Carlo Zanni, Tero Saarinen, Karen Barad, Daniel Rozin, Richard Schechner, Nicole Ridgway, Rebecca Schneider, Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley, VALIE EXPORT, The Guerrilla Girls, Tegan Bristow, Brian Knep, Anna Munster, Zach Lieberman, Golan Levin, Simon Penny, Camille Utterback, Jean-Luc Nancy, The Millefiore Effect, Nick Crossley, Mathieu Briand, Scott Snibbe, David Rokeby, José Gil, Erin Manning, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and Norah Zuniga Shaw


Nathaniel Stern’s book is a marvellous introduction to the thinking and practice of this innovative new media artist, and to the work of others in the same field. Philosophically informed and beautifully written, it is sensitive to the many complex issues involved in making such work.

Charlie Gere is Professor of Media Theory and History in the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University, and author of Digital Culture, Art, Time and Technology, and Community without Community in Digital Culture.


Series Foreword
Introduction: Art Philosophy
Chapter 1: Digital is as Digital Does
Chapter 2: The Implicit Body as Performance
Chapter 3: A Critical Framework for Interactive Art
Chapter 4: Body-Language
Chapter 5: Social-Anatomies
Chapter 6: Flesh-Space
Chapter 7: Implicating Art Works
In Production: Companion Chapter