Installation art is an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called public art, land art or art intervention; however, the boundaries between these terms overlap.
Installation art can be either temporary or permanent. Installation artworks have been constructed in exhibition spaces such as museums and galleries, as well as public and private spaces. The genre incorporates a broad range of everyday and natural materials, which are often chosen for their "evocative" qualities, as well as new media such as video, sound, performance, immersive virtual reality and the internet. Many installations are site-specific in that they are designed to exist only in the space for which they were created, appealing to qualities evident in a three-dimensional immersive medium. Artistic collectives such as the Exhibition Lab at New York's American Museum of Natural History created environments to showcase the natural world in as realistic a medium as possible. Likewise, Walt Disney Imagineering employed a similar philosophy when designing the multiple immersive spaces for Disneyland in 1955. Since its acceptance as a separate discipline, a number of institutions focusing on Installation art were created. These included the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, the Museum of Installation in London, and the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, MI, among others.
Installation art came to prominence in the 1970s but its roots can be identified in earlier artists such as Marcel Duchamp and his use of the readymade and Kurt Schwitters' Merz art objects, rather than more traditional craft based sculpture. The "intention" of the artist is paramount in much later installation art whose roots lie in the conceptual art of the 1960s. This again is a departure from traditional sculpture which places its focus on form. Early non-Western installation art includes events staged by the Gutai group in Japan starting in 1954, which influenced American installation pioneers like Allan Kaprow. Wolf Vostell shows his installation 6 TV Dé-coll/age in 1963at the Smolin Gallery in New York.
Installation as nomenclature for a specific form of art came into use fairly recently; its first use as documented by the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1969. It was coined in this context, in reference to a form of art that had arguably existed since prehistory but was not regarded as a discrete category until the mid-twentieth century. Allan Kaprow used the term "Environment" in 1958 (Kaprow 6) to describe his transformed indoor spaces; this later joined such terms as "project art" and "temporary art."
Essentially, installation/environmental art takes into account a broader sensory experience, rather than floating framed points of focus on a "neutral" wall or displaying isolated objects (literally) on a pedestal. This may leave space and time as its only dimensional constants, implying dissolution of the line between "art" and "life"; Kaprow noted that "if we bypass 'art' and take nature itself as a model or point of departure, we may be able to devise a different kind of art... out of the sensory stuff of ordinary life".
The conscious act of artistically addressing all the senses with regard to a total experience made a resounding debut in 1849 when Richard Wagner conceived of a Gesamtkunstwerk , or an operatic work for the stage that drew inspiration from ancient Greek theater in its inclusion of all the major art forms: painting, writing, music, etc. (Britannica). In devising operatic works to commandeer the audience's senses, Wagner left nothing unobserved: architecture, ambience, and even the audience itself were considered and manipulated in order to achieve a state of total artistic immersion. In the book "Themes in Contemporary Art", it is suggested that "installations in the 1980s and 1990s were increasingly characterized by networks of operations involving the interaction among complex architectural settings, environmental sites and extensive use of everyday objects in ordinary contexts. With the advent of video in 1965, a concurrent strand of installation evolved through the use of new and ever-changing technologies, and what had been simple video installations expanded to include complex interactive, multimedia and virtual reality environments".
In "Art and Objecthood", Michael Fried derisively labels art that acknowledges the viewer as "theatrical" (Fried 45). There is a strong parallel between installation and theater: both play to a viewer who is expected to be at once immersed in the sensory/narrative experience that surrounds him and maintain a degree of self-identity as a viewer. The traditional theater-goer does not forget that they have come in from outside to sit and take in a created experience; a trademark of installation art has been the curious and eager viewer, still aware that they are in an exhibition setting and tentatively exploring the novel universe of the installation.
The artist and critic Ilya Kabakov mentions this essential phenomenon in the introduction to his lectures "On the "Total" Installation": "[One] is simultaneously both a 'victim' and a viewer, who on the one hand surveys and evaluates the installation, and on the other, follows those associations, recollections which arise in him[;] he is overcome by the intense atmosphere of the total illusion". Here installation art bestows an unprecedented importance on the observer's inclusion in that which he observes. The expectations and social habits that the viewer takes with him into the space of the installation will remain with him as he enters, to be either applied or negated once he has taken in the new environment. What is common to nearly all installation art is a consideration of the experience in toto and the problems it may present, namely the constant conflict between disinterested criticism and sympathetic involvement. Television and video offer somewhat immersive experiences, but their unrelenting control over the rhythm of passing time and the arrangement of images precludes an intimately personal viewing experience. Ultimately, the only things a viewer can be assured of when experiencing the work are his own thoughts and preconceptions and the basic rules of space and time. All else may be molded by the artist's hands.
The central importance of the subjective point of view when experiencing installation art, points toward a disregard for traditional Platonic image theory. In effect, the entire installation adopts the character of the simulacrum or flawed statue: it neglects any ideal form in favor of optimizing its direct appearance to the observer. Installation art operates fully within the realm of sensory perception, in a sense "installing" the viewer into an artificial system with an appeal to his subjective perception as its ultimate goal.
An interactive installation frequently involves the audience acting on the work of art or the piece responding to users' activity.There are several kinds of interactive installations that artists produce, these include web-based installations (e.g., Telegarden), gallery-based installations, digital-based installations, electronic-based installations, mobile-based installations, etc. Interactive installations appeared mostly at end of the 1980s (Legible City by Jeffrey Shaw, La plume by Edmond Couchot, Michel Bret...) and became a genre during the 1990s, when artists became particularly interested in using the participation of the audiences to activate and reveal the meaning of the installation.
With the improvement of technology over the years, artists are more able to explore outside of the boundaries that were never able to be explored by artists in the past.The media used are more experimental and bold; they are also usually cross media and may involve sensors, which plays on the reaction to the audiences' movement when looking at the installations. By using virtual reality as a medium, immersive virtual reality art is probably the most deeply interactive form of art. By allowing the spectator to "visit" the representation, the artist creates "situations to live" vs "spectacle to watch".
A happening is a performance, event, or situation art, usually as performance art. The term was first used by Allan Kaprow during the 1950s to describe a range of art-related events.
Interactive art is a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose. Some interactive art installations achieve this by letting the observer or visitor "walk" in, on, and around them; some others ask the artist or the spectators to become part of the artwork.
Allan Kaprow was an American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory. His Happenings — some 200 of them — evolved over the years. Eventually Kaprow shifted his practice into what he called "Activities", intimately scaled pieces for one or several players, devoted to the study of normal human activity in a way congruent to ordinary life. Fluxus, performance art, and installation art were, in turn, influenced by his work.
Video installation is a contemporary art form that combines video technology with installation art, making use of all aspects of the surrounding environment to affect the audience. Tracing its origins to the birth of video art in the 1970s, it has increased in popularity as digital video production technology has become more readily accessible. Today, video installation is ubiquitous and visible in a range of environments—from galleries and museums to an expanded field that includes site-specific work in urban or industrial landscapes. Popular formats include monitor work, projection, and performance. The only requirements are electricity and darkness.
Sound art is an artistic discipline in which sound is utilised as a primary medium or material. Like many genres of contemporary art, sound art may be interdisciplinary in nature, or be used in hybrid forms.
Lygia Pimentel Lins, better known as Lygia Clark, was a Brazilian artist best known for her painting and installation work. She was often associated with the Brazilian Constructivist movements of the mid-20th century and the Tropicalia movement. Along with Brazilian artists Amilcar de Castro, Franz Weissmann, Lygia Pape and poet Ferreira Gullar, Clark co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement. From 1960 on, Clark discovered ways for viewers to interact with her art works. Clark's work dealt with the relationship between inside and outside, and, ultimately, between self and world.
Ann Hamilton is a visual artist who emerged in the early 1980s known for her large-scale multimedia installations. After receiving her BFA in textile design from the University of Kansas in 1979, she lived in Banff, Alberta, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada before deciding to pursue an MFA in sculpture at Yale in 1983. From 1985 to 1991, she taught on the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Since 2001, Hamilton has served on the faculty of the Department of Art at the Ohio State University. She was appointed a Distinguished University Professor in 2011.
Joseph Nechvatal is an American post-conceptual digital artist and art theoretician who creates computer-assisted paintings and computer animations, often using custom-created computer viruses.
Maurice Benayoun is a French pioneer, contemporary new-media artist, curator and theorist based in Paris and Hong Kong. Often conceptual, Maurice Benayoun's work constitutes a critical investigation of the mutations in the contemporary society induced by the emerging or recently adopted technologies.
Virtual art is a term for the virtualization of art, made with the technical media developed at the end of the 1980s. These include human-machine interfaces such as visualization casks, stereoscopic spectacles and screens, digital painting and sculpture, generators of three-dimensional sound, data gloves, data clothes, position sensors, tactile and power feed-back systems, etc. As virtual art covers such a wide array of mediums it is a catch-all term for specific focuses within it. Much contemporary art has become, in Frank Popper's terms, virtualized.
Immersion into virtual reality (VR) is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment.
Theo Watson is a British artist and programmer. His art work includes interactive video, large-scale public projections, computer vision projects, and interactive sound recordings which have featured in museums and galleries across the world including Museum of Modern Art, New York Hall of Science, Tate Modern amongst others. Watson is a partner at Design I/O, a Cambridge-based interactive design firm known for cutting edge, immersive installations. He is also co-founder of the programming toolkit openFrameworks, co-creator of the EyeWriter and a virtual fellow at Free Art and Technology Lab.
A black cubeart museum is a term used by some scholars referring to the type of art museum that is architecturally designed or renovated with special consideration for the particular needs of modern digital art, installation art, and video art. The development of the black box art museums originated from a need to accommodate these works in a better way than was previously possible in earlier art museums in the classic style or "white cube" style. Although earlier examples exist, black cube museums have been most prevalent from the 1990s onwards.
An exhibition, in the most general sense, is an organized presentation and display of a selection of items. In practice, exhibitions usually occur within a cultural or educational setting such as a museum, art gallery, park, library, exhibition hall, or World's fairs. Exhibitions can include many things such as art in both major museums and smaller galleries, interpretive exhibitions, natural history museums and history museums, and also varieties such as more commercially focused exhibitions and trade fairs.
New media art includes artworks designed and produced by means of new media technologies, comprising virtual art, computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, interactive art, sound art, Internet art, video games, robotics, 3D printing, and cyborg art. The term defines itself by the thereby created artwork, which differentiates itself from that deriving from conventional visual arts. This emphasis on medium is a defining feature of much contemporary art and many art schools and major universities now offer majors in "New Genres" or "New Media" and a growing number of graduate programs have emerged internationally. New media art may involve degrees of interaction between artwork and observer or between the artist and the public, as is the case in performance art. Yet, as several theorists and curators have noted, such forms of interaction, social exchange, participation, and transformation do not distinguish new media art but rather serve as a common ground that has parallels in other strands of contemporary art practice. Such insights emphasize the forms of cultural practice that arise concurrently with emerging technological platforms, and question the focus on technological media, per se.
The Smolin Gallery was an avant-garde art venue and gallery on 57th Street in New York City, at its peak in the 1960s. It was known for its involvement with installation art, performance art and experimental art, and was best known for the Allan Kaprow assemblage performance of September 11–12, 1962 entitled "Words", believed to be the first allowing the audience to participate in an art gallery context. Kaprow "used two continual rolls of cloth with words from poems, newspapers, comic and telephone books" during which the audience were asked to "tear off the words, staple them together, write notes, even attack and hack them". Verbal fragments were pasted on the walls from floor to ceiling. In April 1963, Lima and Tony Towle gave their first public recital at the gallery.
CREW is a Belgian performance group, founded in Brussels in 1991 by Eric Joris. CREW operates on the border between art and science, between performance art and new technology. Artist Eric Joris develops his live-art projects in close collaboration with scientists and other artists
Pia Myrvold is a Norwegian artist and designer specialized in interactive art interfaces. In her work she mixes technology and different artistic media, such as 3D animation, painting, video, fashion and design, in order to build a new relationship between the art, the dissemination of ideas and the public. She lives and works in Paris.
Immersive theatre differentiates itself from traditional theater by eating the stage and immersing audiences within the performance itself. Often, this is accomplished by using a specific location (site-specific), allowing audiences to converse with the actors and interact with their surroundings (interactive), thereby breaking the fourth wall.
"Installation art can facilitate a direct, immediate interaction with the viewer," [Cindy] Hinant said.
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