THE BLOG
21/07/2011 11:07 BST | Updated 20/09/2011 06:12 BST

Interactive Media Art?

There has been a lot of discussion about the differentiation between life online and life out in the world but maybe as the Internet assimilates itself with popular culture and society the distinction will no longer exist.

I write news and about art and film. I also love interactive media and although I have suffered a bit of a blow this week at the hands of a rather sparsely populated Google+ I expect that love to grow and flourish.

A friend in the process of completing her interactive media MA at Goldsmiths College invited me down to her final show last week and following lots of IM sessions discussing Adam Curtis I was really looking forward to seeing what they had come up with, what would they actually show?

The course combines teaching critical theory with practical programming skills.

At the show, Disconnect and Punish, I was struck by what appeared to be a great division in the way the students showed their work. The show seemed completely split between what was presented as art and the work which was presented essentially as interpreted data on a computer screen.

I began to think about the relationship between artistic creativity and interactive media and by that meaning the making of art and that being shared in the context of the Internet, with whoever comes across it online.

I remembered that last year I had taken part in an interactive music video that I had loved and sent to all my friends. A collaboration between the band Arcade Fire, music video director Chris Milk and Google, The Wilderness Downtown. I put the post code of the house I grew up in into a box on the website and what followed (I won't spoil it for those who are yet to experience it) is a wonderful, nostalgic and technical masterpiece made incorporating, of all things Google maps. This is most definitely a two way street, a collaboration between the website and the viewer using interactive media but the result rather than being the equivalent of 'liking a wall post' on Facebook is something beautiful, emotionally stirring and affecting. It is made more so as the experience is shared with whoever goes to the website, enters their details and enjoys the end result as they themselves are having experience entirely unique to them.

Chris Milk then collaborated with Arcade Fire facilitated by the Creators Project, for their live performance at the Coachella festival 2011, this time they poured hundreds of inflatable beach balls from the top of the stage into the crowd which, when the song (Wake Up) hit a certain point began to light up and change colour.

What struck me about this was the fact that this live event was the same kind of experience as the site, both shared and yet utterly personal and made personal through the music and the individual relationship each member of the crowd has to that music. Like any concert experience it would be utterly unique but in a way the giant glowing beach balls united the audience in a way they were not before, it gave them something uniquely shared as a group or a community, which they maintained through the site, Summer Into Dust.

The artist and professor Casey Reas, another member of the Creators Project uses open source software to make art which he and his collaborator Ben Fry make available to thought their website Processing. org. The site holds a gallery of work made by people who have used the code which Reas and Fry have made available.

Some of Reas work uses the idea of emergence that means the program that 'makes' the art has certain rules but the visual end result is indefinite, he compares the software he creates to a score of music. Open to interpretation.

I suppose what has been turning over in my mind since seeing the show is the fact that interactive media and software are becoming artistic mediums. But also a question, asking whether the line dividing interactive experiences online and those based in the real world is being eroded.

There has been a lot of discussion about the differentiation between life online and life out in the world but maybe as the Internet assimilates itself with popular culture and society the distinction will no longer exist.