DEAF07 Symposium

The symposium of DEAF07 had the theme 'Interact or Die!'

Apr 2007
Apr 2007
12:00 to 18:00
location: Nederlands Architectuurinstituut, Museumpark 25

The theme of the symposium – and the accompanying publication – is the ways organization and structure come about, and become effective, through interaction within networks. The speakers in the symposium consider this question from artistic, architectonic, social, political, biological and cognitive perspectives.


Interaction is a characteristic of every living thing. Bodies and objects lay connections, form networks, and then, through interaction, achieve organization, structure and memory. Interaction is often seen as a process of action and reaction between already existing bodies and objects, but this is too limited a view. Interaction causes bodies and objects to change and variation to arise. Interaction is not a deformation of existing forms, but rather an addition of information, an informing, a formation of forms.

Interaction does not come into being on the basis of rigid blueprints or detailed plans with clear-cut goals; it proceeds messily, in an exploratory, flexible way. The results of interaction possess this same sloppiness, instability and tentativeness - but precisely for this reason, they can last a surprisingly long time, as they are always able to reorganize and adapt. Thus, blood vessels in an embryo grow in all directions, but the only branches that survive are those that interact with the organs they connect to; the rest disappear. The only selection criterion for interaction is whether it works, that is, whether it is operational. Interactivity is, on the one hand, a method of bringing something into being - whether a form, a structure, an organization, a body, an institute, or a work of art - and, on the other, a way of dealing with it.

Interactive Art

In viewers looking at non-interactive works of art, we also see exploratory and tentative behavior. Every perception is already an action, so in fact in this sense there is no art that is non-interactive. But only art that presents itself as interactive tries to absorb this activity of the viewer's and make itself open so that it, too, can change. An interactive artwork does not so much respond to the viewer as form a double system with him or her in which both the work and the viewer can change (unlike non-interactive art, in regard to which it is thought only the viewer can change). This double system, in turn, forms a third system with the viewers around it, in which these "outsiders" can look at and through the interaction taking place and the forms that arise through it.

Interactive art is, in short, an open kind of art, one that permits multiple perceptions, though not every perception. In interactive art, perception becomes action, and the action of perceiving adds something to the work. The act of perceiving thereby becomes the act of making the work.

Moderator: Andreas Broeckmann.


11:00 - 12:00
Detlef Mertins

12:00 - 13:00
Lars Spuybroek


14:00 - 15:00
Howard Caygill

15:00 - 16:00
Noortje Marres

16:00 - 17:00
Jeanne van Heeswijk

17:00 - 18:00
Informal talks and drinks

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