Katja Kwastek – Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art


The MIT Press, ISBN: 978-0262019323, English, 384 pages, 2013, USA

Defining the multifaceted modalities of digital art has shown itself to be a difficult and potentially impossible task. Locating firm ground upon which to define art territories has been undermined by waves of incomplete taxonomies and the constant coining of new terms. One of the safer strategies has been to analyse the dynamics around digital works, especially contextualised in the broader field of more established disciplines. This is the method employed by Katja Kwastek, who navigates the conceptual perils of technological art with the solid compass of aesthetic theory from her art-historical perspective. Her definition of the aesthetic of interactive art investigates categories like time, space, aliveness, presence, structure and interface, to name just a few. The definition of interactive artworks as ‘systems’ and “technically mediated feedback processes” are accompanied by the awareness that interactive art is challenging fundamental categories of aesthetic theories of art, such as ‘aesthetic distance’, which is impossible to accomplish with artworks requiring active participation. The author develops methodological tools for understanding and analysing interactive art and the text is completed with several case studies, illustrating “artistic strategies for staging interactivity,” and ranging from net.art classics to recent performances. This publication is maybe the last (posthumous) act of the now defunct Boltzmann Institute.