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Interactivity & Ritual: Body Dialogues with Artificial Systems - Part 3 of 3
by Diana Domingues

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Interactive installations bring up the idea of time as a concrete experience, to be alive with the body in action. The interfaces connect the body that acts with the system. The connected body lives an in-corporation of the environment in which it is immersed. The responses of the system resulting from the actions of the human body are processed in real time, or in the same time in which the body connects and acts with the behaviors translated by the technology.

Concerning the body, experience, and cognition, I agree with Francisco Varela's theories about the body's capability to lead with perception through actions. I agree with his ideas about cognition as action (concreta, incarnata, incorporata, vissuta). In the interactions, cognition is given by an experience of performance by the body. Cognition is a guided experience that is implied in the perception and possession of the environment. The interactive technologies and art of the digital era propose events, and these events place us within the concept of present time. The present is an immediate time to live - a concrete present that puts us in connection with the living world. When we are connected to digital technologies, they act as agents separated from our bodies that lead to other actions. By interacting with them, we guide and are guided by external agents. The artificial systems and biological sensorial apparatus that make up our body, ratify the relationship of the silicon networks and the connected biological system through interactions. Carbon and silicon, blood and electricity, minds and software all function together. In this ecosystem, the whole regenerates itself into a mosaic of networks and sub-networks in complex relationships where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The whole is all the unpredictable connections.

In this way, the whole is recreated by the stories of structural coupling between the systems. Cognition, as stated by Varela, is "enaction" that depends on the experience of having a body and its motor capacities - senses contained within a large cultural and biological context. Perception and action are inseparable. They work together to recreate a world through their structural coupling. This is "enaction" for Varela. In my installation TRANS-E, the experience guided by actions constructed in an environment of immersion permits the participant to reconstruct something pre-existing in the electronic memory that requires the participant to do something. The installation requires structural coupling. This implies a dynamic conception of the ecosystem's own experience where many microcosms are activated. The installation requires the animal or biological disposition of being implicated and the human consciousness such as the "know-how" that is constituted by concrete actions. Interactive art is made of different paths that offer cognitive moments related to each body and the way they behave. The behaviors of bodies and of machines make responses that form the present. In this way, interactive art in experiences of possession of time is transitory and ritual. In both of these situations the body is called to action, and when the body is active it processes cognition as living experiences.


Working with the interaction of systems, we are involved in a physical situation that is determined by the presence of the body and of the computer and its behaviors. Complex behaviors can appear as a result of simple behaviors. The central idea is that of the emergency state. The self-organization of the environment can only be determined by the total behavior of the systems and how that behavior appears in relation to the environment. A world emerges through cognitive agents, and the action precedes the representation. Or rather, the connections of the body within the room in which the artificial systems are installed determine the emergency of new states of the installation. Cognition comes from the presence of the body that cannot be separated from its language and history. The body's actions in this place make each participant an agent of the "enaction." The cognitive system creates its own world that results from preexisting internal aspects that, mutually or in co-determination, define the world to be created by its structural coupling.


The living experiences received from feedback of the environment provide spiritual moments through interactive art. The invisible phenomena force the poetic data of artists' ideas. Interactive art gives us the power to manipulate phenomena in a spiritual and constructive way. I highlight the new sensorial-perceptive field that needs to be further explored through interactive art. I look forward to possibilities of constructing our own mental process and subjective flows using the emergent properties and the unpredictability of digital art. Technologies are like separate "entities" that we embody because they are more than sensorial extensions. Digital technologies work as synthetic bodies and immerse themselves into cognitive stages. We inhabit propagations of consciousness in a symbiosis with externalized software minds. Our flesh body connects to interfaces, enabling us to be in an "elliptical zone." Body attimos in these intervals are the result of the symbiosis of artificial and biological systems.

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