Interaction in Art and Technology

Linda Candy and Ernest Edmonds
Creativity and Cognition Research Studios
Department of Computer Science
Loughborough University
Leicestershire, England

Abstract. The interest of artists and art theorists in audience participation with artworks has been particularly active since the 1960s. Interactive artworks that could transform viewers into participants were envisaged and created using the media available at that time. Today the opportunities for including audience participation have been increased significantly by the widespread availability of digital technology. The degree of collaboration between technologists and artists affects the necessary interaction between artist and computer. This paper discusses the role of technology in interactive art and the complex ways in which the artist can interact with computers and digital media in order to specify artworks. Categories of interactive art systems defined earlier as static, dynamic-passive, dynamic-interactive and dynamic-interactive (varying) are brought up-to-date and illustrated by examples of work from the Creativity and Cognition Research Studios.


Computer graphics were first publicly exhibited as art by Georg Nees* at the Studio Galerie, University of Stuttgart in January, 1965. The exhibition showed works produced with a graph plotter and generated by computer programs written by Nees himself. Some of the early explorations in computer art were shown at the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition, held at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London, in 1968 [13, 14]. The 1965 exhibition, the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity event and Reichardt's 1971 book all demonstrated the coming together of technologists and artists in collaborations of one form or another. The period from the mid to late 1960s was an exciting period for experimental art. At that time, for an artist even to talk to an engineer was thought to be remarkable. Nevertheless, more and more people with backgrounds in science, engineering and art began to present their ‘computer art’ to an unsuspecting and sometimes puzzled public. It was a time of individual effort supported by small interest groups whose work was often sustained by having some form of access to academic facilities.

From the 1980s onwards, there was a remarkable growth in experimental art and technology. Organizations were formed to facilitate developments, and the number of artists involved multiplied. The organizations promoting such work came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the visual arts, music, performance and film. Each of these starting points brought with it different orientations with respect to art and technology. There are many pathways to the development of innovation, and organizations have different agendas and frameworks that influence the particular approach adopted. The experiences in art and technology that underpin this article spring from a field with a multi-disciplinary character – Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). HCI combines new developments in interactive digital technology with research into the associated human issues [8].

In order to bring practice and research together in our search for more knowledge about the creative process in art and technology, it was necessary to create an appropriate context in which new developments in the field could take place and research could be undertaken in parallel. The Creativity and Cognition symposia and exhibition series began in 1993 at Loughborough University, and the artist-in-residencies studies began in 1996. Later, Creativity and Cognition Research Studios (C&CRS) was established in 1998 as a joint venture between the School of Art and Design and the Department of Computer Science at the university. The aim of C&CRS is to make art practice the central focus of the work and provide an environment where artists and technologists could work as collaborators. Artists and technologists are developing systems for creative exploration through virtual and physical interactivity and are extending both the technology and the art on several fronts.

A key objective of the C&CRS approach is to facilitate the co-evolution of art and technology and at the same time to study the creative process. Research issues include: how the use of the technology influences creative practice and the implications of such practice for technological requirements and for the environments in which new developments can take place. Awards for artist-in-residencies provide vehicles for research projects such as the COSTART project. In this research project, which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the UK, artists were selected for an initial week-long residency and, afterwards, an associated visiting fellowship giving continuous access to the centre's resources and facilities. These residencies have given rise to new works and new techniques for interaction developed by artists in collaboration with technologists. Some of the outcomes of the work are discussed and illustrated later in this article.

Interactive Art

The media used in digital art apply to many art forms, including painting, performance, film and participation. Where the medium is static such as printing, the technology issues concerned with the output devices (e.g., printers, video projection) are well defined. However, the situation is quite different when it comes to interaction in art. Interactive art is concerned with the way the technology performs, as well as how it appears. Here, there remain many unresolved issues despite considerable advances in the technological possibilities since the concept of interactive art first appeared.

In today's interactive art, where the artist and the audience play integral participant roles, the computer's role has immense potential. In the past, it was a dream yet to be realized that artworks could transform viewers into participants. The opportunities for including audience participation have expanded with the advent of digital technology. Collaboration in art practice has grown significantly, in the sense that the visual arts have developed some of the characteristics of film production, with teams of experts working together on projects.

In the early days of experimental interactive art, Cornock and Edmonds put forward the idea that the computer could have an important role in defining the specification of the artwork and also managing the real-time result of that specification. This role is quite different to the computer as a means of producing graphic art images. By ‘specifying’ and ‘managing,’ they meant that the computer controls the way an artwork performs in relation to its environment including its human audience, or, arguably the more appropriate term, its ‘participants.’ Because the role of the computer was envisaged as critical to the experience, they speculated that such work could transform the artist from an art specialist in creating artworks to a catalyst for creativity [5].

Audience participation with artworks was a lively expanding area of interest for artists and art theorists in the 1960s and 1970s. Burnham, for example, argued for the importance of understanding artworks in their environmental context and that all things ‘which process art data, . . . are components of the work of art’ [3]. So by that definition, the audience is part of the artwork. As early as 1966, Roy Ascott had developed a theoretical position in which participation and interaction between the audience and the artwork were central [1]. He later gave up the practice of making art objects all together: ‘In California in the 1970s, introduced to the computer conferencing system of Jacques Vallée, Informedia, I saw at once its potential as a medium for art and in 1979 abandoned painting entirely in order to devote myself wholly and exclusively to exploring telematics as a medium for art’ [2]. In other art forms, such as Happenings, participation was also prevalent. Kirby described rather basic examples of participation in Allan Kaprow's Eat thus, ‘Directly in front of the entrance, apples hung on rough strings from the ceiling. If the visitor wished, he could remove one of the apples and eat it or, if he was not very hungry, merely take a bite from it and leave it dangling’ [9]. Participation in the artwork by becoming part of the art system and interacting with whatever the artist provided was becoming a familiar experience, whether it was typing at the keyboard or eating the apple.

Categories of Interaction in Art

Turning to the specific context of art and interactive digital technology, we can envisage several situations that characterize the relationship between the artwork, artist, viewer and environment. The core categories devised by Cornock and Edmonds are applicable to current examples of interactive artworks. They were defined then as: static, dynamic-passive, dynamic-interactive and dynamic-interactive (varying). We can now elaborate on those descriptions and bring them up-to-date as follows:

The art object does not change and is viewed by a person. There is no interaction between the two that can be observed by someone else, although the viewer may be experiencing personal psychological or emotional reactions. The artwork itself does not respond to its context. This is familiar ground in art galleries and museums where art consumers look at a painting or print, listen to tape recordings and talk to one another about the art on the walls and, generally speaking, obey the command not to touch.
The art object has an internal mechanism that enables it to change or it may be modified by an environmental factor such as temperature, sound or light. The internal mechanism is specified by the artist and any changes that take place are entirely predictable. Sculptures, such as George Rickey's kinetic pieces that move according to internal mechanisms and also in response to atmospheric changes in the environment fall into this category [15]. The viewer is a passive observer of this activity performed by the artwork in response to the physical environment.
All of the conditions of the dynamic passive category apply with the added factor that the human ‘viewer’ has an active role in influencing the changes in the art object. For example, by walking over a mat that contains sensors attached to lights operating in variable sequences, the viewer becomes a participant that influences the process of the work. Motion and sound capture techniques can be used to incorporate human activity into the way visual images and sounds are presented. The work ‘performs’ differently according to what the person does or says. There may be more than one participant and more than one art object. An example of this work is the Iamascope (Figure 1), a work which includes a camera looking at the viewers and is connected to a controlling computer. The work reacts to human movement in front of it by changing a kaleidoscope-like image and making music at the same time in direct response to the viewer's movements [7].
Dynamic-Interactive (Varying)
The conditions for both 2 and 3 above apply, with the addition of a modifying agent that changes the original specification of the art object. The agent could be a human or it could be a software program. Because of this, the process that takes place, or rather, the performance of the art system cannot be predictable. It will depend on the history of interactions with the work. In this case, either the artist from time to time updates the specification of the art object or a software agent that is learning from the experiences of interaction automatically modifies the specification. In this case, the performance of the art object varies, in addition to case 3, according to the history of its experiences.
Figure 1: Interaction with the Iamascope at the Play Zone, Millennium Dome 2000 © Linda Candy
Figure 1: Interaction with the Iamascope at the Play Zone, Millennium Dome 2000 © Linda Candy

When defining these categories, Cornock and Edmonds proposed that rather than talk about ‘artworks,’ it was helpful to think in terms of ‘art systems’ that embraced all of the participating entities, including the human viewer. It follows from this that the role of the artist is not so much to construct the artwork, but rather to specify and modify the constraints and rules used to govern the relationship between audience and artwork as it takes place in the world. Four art systems, each exemplifying one of the categories above, are described in the following section. These are examples of an important strand of the future development of approaches to making interactive art. However, the way that we can interpret them is subtler than it was thirty years ago. They are also all examples of human collaboration and of inter-disciplinary partnerships in practice.

Artists Working with Interactive Art Systems

In recent years, a considerable amount of the work by artists working at the forefront of art and technology has involved interaction between art objects and the viewer. Each of the categories mentioned above are currently in use to one degree or another. Artists are also interested in the relationships that exist, or can be developed, between the physical world and virtual ones or between physical movement and symbolic representation. Examples may be found in a publication of work arising from the C&CRS artist-in-residencies that were studied and documented [4]. One artist uses swimming to help understand the nature of the water to be modelled in computer animations. Another artist is concerned with the precise nature of the relationships her audience forms with her work. Another artist uses movement in a space as an integral part of his interactive works, so that performance and visual art are brought together. Dynamic systems of one sort or another are often at the core of the artworks produced. The digital computer system manages interactions with or representations of physical behaviour.

Implementing artworks of this kind often involves the construction or selection of sensor and control systems. These are ways in which the computer can learn about its environment and affect what happens next. In general, the applications and programming languages available to build and use these systems are much less advanced but substantially more difficult to use than general-purpose software applications. Artists working in this area have a choice of working at a detailed level with programming or forming collaborative arrangements with software developers. The problems of instructing the computer in these situations are quite unlike the current problems of using a printer, although it was not so many years ago when basic computer graphics were as hard to work with as interactive position sensor systems are now. The artists' needs are always advancing and often seem to outstrip the application developer's progress, in that by the time a requirement has been met, the artist has formulated a new need. In this way, artists' requirements can lead to new technological developments, a process that is a driver for innovation and, as such, has many potential benefits.

The 21st Century Color Organ: Jack Ox

Jack Ox, an artist who is based in New York and also works often in Europe, produces artworks that are variations on the static type of art. She makes works in which music and images are closely related and her primary goal is to create an intimate correspondence between visual and musical languages. She describes what she does as a form of ‘translation’ of music into sets of visual languages. To achieve this, she has to determine structural parameters of the piece of music to be visualized, which take the form of operating principles and data sets that are encoded in MIDI files in The 21st Century Color Organ. Once a work that represents a transformation from music to a virtual world has been constructed, ‘the viewer can move at will through the space and touch elements of the sculpture and hear the sound which originally produced it’ [11, p. 213]. In this art experience, the participant can move around in a three-dimensional visual space that is also a representation of a musical space. Although the viewer does not influence the state of the work, he or she chooses a viewpoint and moves around it in a very real and dynamic way. In this respect, it has something of the feel of a dynamic-passive piece. An example from a recent work is shown in Figure 2. The music, ‘Im Januar am Nil,’ was composed by Clarence Barlow © 1984 and realized in the Color Organ in 2001. The visualization was by Jack Ox and David Britton.

Figure 2: Looking Down into the Spiral Visualization of ‘Im Januar am Nil’ over ‘Beating Objects’ Landscape in the Desert Organ Stop, 2001 © Jack Ox
Figure 2: Looking Down into the Spiral Visualization of ‘Im Januar am Nil’ over ‘Beating Objects’ Landscape in the Desert Organ Stop, 2001 © Jack Ox

A critical part of the creative process over many years for Jack Ox has been her collaboration with composers and experts in digital technology. She has moved on from the formula of having a technological assistant to one of having a technological equal partner and co-author of her art. She also finds that such collaborations provide the triggers for significant creative advance.

The Digital Garden: Esther Rolinson

Esther Rolinson's work is an example of the dynamic-passive variety in which the performance is influenced by the work's environment. She works with natural elements and architectural structures and creates installations in the physical world. She is developing an approach to using digital technology in order to control her light structures and to explore the effect of digital technology on the relationship between the object and the viewer. Iteration and flexibility in the creative process proved to be important as Rolinson's ideas evolved in response to new developments as they emerged. In order to progress her work she chose to put her efforts into defining and communicating her intentions rather than developing specific programming expertise herself. For the software design and programming she relied upon her computer science collaborators. She stresses how important it was that one of these was also an artist and, therefore, that the communication between them about complex issues was eased. Nevertheless, she indicated a concern about how much control over the process she might have to relinquish to the technologists because of her lack of programming knowledge [16].

Figure 3: Digital Garden, 1998, Under Construction Exhibition, Loughborough University  © Esther Rolinson
Figure 3: Digital Garden, 1998, Under Construction Exhibition, Loughborough University © Esther Rolinson

The problem Esther Rolinson addressed during her first residency at C&CRS involved collaboration with two people, computer scientist Colin Machin and artist and computer scientist Mike Quantrill. A third technologist, Dave Garton, eventually joined the team to develop this simulation. The project involved the development of both hardware and software for the work itself: however, it soon became apparent that the ability of the computer to provide visual simulations of the intended work was also valuable to her personal artistic development.

As a computer scientist who has been working on the problem of how to provide the very flexibility combined with control over the process that Esther Rolinson needs, Colin Machin understands the technical issues very well. He has developed a method that can be used to provide the flexibility that the artist requires. A mechanism in the artwork's control software can interpret sequences specified by the artist. Before an artwork controller is installed, it is difficult for the artist to visualize the effect of the sequences that have been programmed. For this reason, he has built a simulator for the artwork which produces a graphical representation of the artwork in two dimensions; this can be shown with a further representation of the elements that are to be controlled, such as the LEDs (light emitting diodes). The simulator can ‘run’ the sequence and portray the results on the image. For further details see Colin Machin's article [10].

Figure 4: Screen View of Sculpture Simulator for Priva-Lite Panel Construction © Colin Machin
Figure 4: Screen View of Sculpture Simulator for Priva-Lite Panel Construction © Colin Machin

The Sensor Grid: Mike Quantrill

Mike Quantrill works on interactive environments in which the visual work reacts to the movement of the participant in a physical space in front of the projected images. This work falls into the dynamic-interactive category. A particular characteristic of Quantrill's approach that distinguishes his work from others in this category, is a focus upon his own interactions with the piece rather than in those of other participants. Although he sets up interactive situations for a number of people, for a large part of the action he is the main participant. It is through those levels of involvement that he feels he learns most.

In a number of articles, Mike Quantrill reflects on how the use of digital technology could lead him to new personal understandings [12]. Finished artworks are of a lesser concern. A problem that is often referred to in relation to the use of computers is their relative lack of support for sketching and tentative processes. The pencil seems much better for this purpose. Quantrill, however, describes much of his computer-based work in terms of producing ‘sketches.’ His drawing on the electronic SoftBoard developed by Microfield Graphics consisted of physical markmaking with felt-tip pens and could be termed sketching where an informal or tentative approach is being taken. On the other hand, his work with the sensor grid in the interactive environment did not involve making marks at all. In this case he refers to his computer programs as ‘sketches.’ He approaches computer programming in a way that takes deliberate account of the tentative and uncertain process in which he is involved. Each version of a computer program is seen as a tentative experiment leading to ideas for the next ‘sketch.’

Figure 5: Sketching with the Soft-board: Mike Quantrill © Linda Candy
Figure 5: Sketching with the SoftBoard: Mike Quantrill © Linda Candy

There is also a much more important sense in which Quantrill's work with the sensor grid extends the notion of sketching. He is experimenting with interaction spaces in which the position and movement of people, the participants, constitute the primary or only input to a computer system (Figure 6). Whilst the participants are not making marks on paper, their physical activity is recorded and leaves a trace within the computer system. In effect, Quantrill sees them as sketching with their bodies. One way that he looks at his work is as an investigation into languages of interaction: this is a form of correspondence between human movement and formal representations within the computer. Understanding such processes forms the core of his explorations. In doing this, his relationship to the technology is very close and he explicitly refers to its role as actively informing the work. For this artist, the computer is much more than just a tool.

Figure 6: Interaction with Sensor System by Anthony Padgett © Linda Candy
Figure 6: Interaction with Sensor System by Anthony Padgett © Linda Candy

Learning Interactive Video Constructs: Ernest Edmonds

The ‘learning interactive video construct’ is an art system that evolves in response to the interpretation of participant interaction with the work by a software agent. This is an example of the dynamic interactive (varying) category of art system. Edmonds's recent work in interactive art systems evolved from earlier video constructs, which are abstract computer animations in which a computer program provides the underlying structure that generates the work. The effect is to produce a sequence of images in which the formation of the shapes and the colours change over time. The changes are not random, and some order can be sensed although the actual rules that generate the sequence are not normally fully clear to the viewer.

The time-based video constructs have been developed into interactive video constructs. The artwork can be so constructed as to react to events detected by sensor systems as is done in the Iamascope (see above) [7]. A real-time image analysis system is incorporated into the generative program. The performance of the work, i.e., the generative path that it takes, is then reactive to what the participants are doing.

In a video construct, the program is using a set of rules and, as it searches through different ways of using them, it generates the sequence of images that forms the work. In the earlier systems, the sequence of images was entirely determined by the search strategy used by the program to explore the rules. In the interactive case, however, the program has available to it a stream of data that is a coded representation of the behaviour of the viewer, and this data modifies the way the search is conducted, thus leading to a sense that the system is reacting to the participant.

Because these interactive video constructs are described within the computer by a set of rules, it is possible to add an agent that uses the history of interactions between participants and the work to modify the generative behaviour by changing the rules used, or changing which rules are used. Through recording and analysing the interactions, the agent learns from experience about human reaction to the artwork. The video construct changes its behaviour in the light of its experience with human participants interacting with the work. At its core, the work is a program, a generative system. Hence, as it learns, it changes the way that it develops rather than simply changing the stimulus-response rules that govern its behaviour. The learning interactive video construct is an art system that evolves in response to the interpretation of participant interaction with the work by a software agent [6].

Figure 7: Interaction with Video Construct © Ernest Edmonds
Figure 7: Interaction with Video Construct © Ernest Edmonds

Interaction and Collaboration

Art systems such as those described in this article are increasingly significant in modern technology-based art. Artists are putting considerable effort into the specification and construction of interactive experiences of many types. As well as the interaction between the artworks and human participants, many other kinds of interaction have come to be important. The way in which the artist can interact with computers and digital media in order to specify the works is both complex and varied. The increasing degree of collaboration between technologists and artists affects the necessary interaction between artist and computer and also adds the dimension of interaction between technologists and artists.

The importance of finding the right people to interact with creatively has driven Jack Ox to seek out particular individuals over a wide geographical area. She acknowledges the fact that the kinds of works she is interested in are expensive to develop and difficult to market. Her participation in conferences, giving talks, writing papers and demonstrating her works is part of an entrepreneurial spirit that seeks to disseminate innovative ideas to international cultural communities and the public at large. In doing this, Jack Ox is not just promoting art. It is her experience and firm belief that, in the technology and art collaborations that she finds so necessary, the technologist has much to gain and that the artist should positively engage in achieving such benefits as well as progressing her own art practice.

All the artists mentioned are concerned with issues of art practice and the changes that digital technology is bringing to their practice. However, it is not the ‘nuts and bolts’ of practice that concerns them most, but conceptual shifts in their thinking and having available opportunities for extending collaboration with people who have complementary expertise. Where the artist cannot find a way to exploit the technology, the reasons are rarely a failure of the usability of the software alone. As these artists demonstrate, the mapping of artistic goals and intentions to digital methods often requires transformations not only in the technical solutions but also in the artist's thinking [4].

In general, the challenges inherent in working with digital technology can have an influence in encouraging artists to break with existing conventions and abandon well-established techniques, a development that is a core element of truly innovative practice. In deciding to use new technology, the artist is not simply changing the medium as in substituting oil paint for computer-based image generation. It is not a case of doing the same kinds of things but using a digital medium, although this is certainly happening. There are many software applications that can make the creation of visual material very easy, for example, but this kind of technology-based art does not represent the front edge of current work. Where innovative concepts direct the artist to seek out new digital techniques, it often takes considerable time and effort to develop the technology to a level where it can deliver the desired result. Few artists are in a position to achieve this themselves, and this is where collaborative projects involving people from different fields and of varying levels of expertise are required. Once the artist is engaged in a collaborative art and technology venture, many complex issues come into play, some of which we touch on in the next section.

Interaction and Control

A standard question for designers of interactive computer systems is how to determine if and how the user, rather than the computer, is in control of the interaction. Sometimes the computer takes control, for example, in a car braking system, but mostly, users want to be in control themselves. When teams of people are involved in the interaction with the technology as, for example, in computer-supported meetings, the nature of the meeting will affect how the system is designed. For example, if the situation is a democratic one where everyone has an equal say, how can the interaction be mediated? Is there a leader, a moderator or a chair?

Artists tend to be very particular about who or what is in control. They will wish to be the author of the creative concept and its progress, if not the actual physical realization of the artefact, where it exists. In this situation, developing new kinds of digital technology can lead to a problem of control and, hence, ownership. When a software developer collaborating with an artist writes a program for an interactive artwork that only they understand, who controls the artistic decisions then? Some technologies are easier for the artist to control than others. Some artists insist on learning how to stay in control. If they cannot control the process fully, they do not go in that technological direction.

Issues of control are closely related to the level of complexity of the computer. The more things that a computer can do, the more complex its instruction language has to be and the harder it is to control. The harder it is to control, the more has to be learnt in order to master it. This is often the dilemma. A software application may be quite easy to use and quick to learn. It might enable many things to be done beautifully but, almost inevitably, it will impose constraints on the user. Often, it will impose limitations that are unacceptable to the creative mind. Faced with these dilemmas, it is all too easy to conclude that technology should stay as it is and artists should restrict their ambitions in order to accommodate it. However, for new ideas and art forms to be created, it is more helpful to view the limitations in the current technology as the requirements for new technological initiatives. Taking this line, by opening up the horizons of the software developers, artists might be the driving force behind the development of the next generation of technology. Likewise, by initiating new ideas and carrying them through themselves, artists can become the drivers of innovative digital art forms.

Environments for Interactive Art

We need computing resources and software to enable the kind of guided or playful exploration of possibilities in which artists engage. But how can we ensure that the artists have access to digital environments that are adaptable to their evolving needs? One solution might be the creation of more software tools that allow the artist access to deeper levels of the computer's programming system, rather than software applications that have been developed for specific tasks such as image manipulation. Such tools could provide a bridge between the use of an environment that requires programming knowledge and the ‘closed’ application, which does not provide sufficient flexibility.

Our experience suggests that even today, with all the advances in software, the degree of programming and systems expertise is critical to having more artistic control over the development process. Those artists who had such knowledge were in a position to make more interim decisions during the exploratory process that guided the next course of action. Those artists who depended on a technologist often felt uncertain as to how much control they might have to relinquish to achieve their goals.

There is no one solution to designing environments for creative use. Conflicting requirements, such as accessibility and ease of learning on the one hand, and a high degree of control by the artist on the other, may not be mutually achievable. Ways forward combine new technology, new ways of working and new collaborations. Each artist will chose a personal approach, and the intersection of art and technology will lead along different paths in each case. Nevertheless, it is important to understand as much as possible about what is general in art and technology creative processes and how applicable different technologies are.

A fundamental question that we have been considering is, what kind of environments best support the development of digital art? There is one answer to this question which, although it may sound a little strange, is, nevertheless, appropriate. In art and technology environments, we need environments for building environments. This approach is analogous to having a store which stocks all of the components that one might need in order to build a carpenter's workbench. The store is an environment that has all of the components that one might need, such as vices, bench tops, tool racks, etc. By selecting from them and assembling the items in our own workroom, we can build a specific environment suitable for our particular carpentry needs. The store provides an environment for building the particular environments that its customers need.

Research and Practice

This article arises from research and practice in art and technology. To understand the full scope of the work, readers are referred to the forthcoming book, Explorations in Art and Technology [4]. Recent experiences of twenty-five artists, technologists and researchers who are working at the intersection between art and technology in collaborative projects are described. From this, we furthered our understanding of the nature of interaction between people and computers. There is another benefit, however. The process of being involved in research about their practice has proved both interesting and advantageous to many of the artists involved. Learning about digital technology was clearly important to the artists involved in these studies, but, in addition, learning about their own art practice from the reflections that the research induced may have been equally or even more important. It is also very important that these reflections are part of a research activity that both documents the process and disseminates the outcomes. In this way, what has been learnt is shared with the world and all can benefit from the work. This sharing also encourages consideration and feedback by others. The research is leading to a social development process and so to an acceleration of the learning.

Further details can be obtained at


Georg Nees is thought to have gained the first PhD in Computer Art in 1969.


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About the Authors

Linda Candy is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at Loughborough University, UK. She has a first degree in English and French, a masters degree in computer-aided learning and a doctorate in Computer Science from Loughborough University. She is currently principal researcher for the COSTART project, Studies of Computer Support for Creative Work: Artists and Technologists in Collaboration. Her main research areas are creativity, interaction design and usability evaluation She has conducted studies of creative people including the designer of the Lotus bicycle and has published widely. She is a member of a number of international conference programme committees and has carried out a number of projects in collaboration with industry. She is co-chair of the international symposia on Creativity and Cognition and Strategic Knowledge and Concept Formation. She has been invited to present her work in Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA. For further details see:

Ernest Edmonds is an artist and a computer scientist. He has been using computers in art since 1968. His work has concentrated on logic-based generative digital videos, known as video constructs. He first exhibited a video construct in London in 1985 and has since shown these and other related works in Moscow, Sydney, Rotterdam, Liège, Vervier, Budapest and Koblenz. Recently he has been making interactive, participative work and investigating correspondences between visual art and music through the use of computers. He is the director of the Creativity and Cognition Research Studios, Loughborough University, UK. His research in Human-Computer Interaction and creativity has led to more than 160 publications. In the area of creativity, he first published on the implications of computers for art practice in 1970. He was chairman of the Access and Creativity task group for the UK's Technology Foresight programme and leader of its mission to Japan – The Interaction of Art and Technology. He is currently a member of the UK Arts and Humanity Research Board's Visual Arts and Media research panel. He is co-chair of the Creativity and Cognition conference series. For further details see:

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