edited by Samuel Bianchini and Erik Verhagen – Practicable: From Participation to Interaction in Contemporary Art


MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262034753, English, 952 pages, 2016, USA

Recognising the process of interaction as fundamentally an exchange is what the editors of this sizeable anthology do. Their criteria are summarised in the title itself, as “practicable” (derived from the same French word) here means to be able to trigger the “concrete involvement” of the viewer. In this relational processes the Foucauldian ‘dispositif” is a key element to allow what are described in the end as “productive arrangements”. The resulting relationships are even better defined by Erika Fischer-Lichte as ‘oscillatory’ and they are reflecting the attitude of “being-through-others” embedded in the different discussed artistic processes. With these encouraging premises stated by the two editors, the different sections of this media art compendium can be easily recognised through their basic components: art movements (finally with an essay about Arte Programmata), performances and exhibitions. Historical awareness seems to be more present than in the past, and so forgotten or celebrated works from the second half of 20th century and 2000s are proportionally preponderant. Furthermore, the anthology form does not limit itself to essays only, here. In fact, there are two large sections filled respectively with case studies and interviews, and especially the latter is a timely one, letting us hear the voices of artists and a few theorists, after all the essays. With the size of a reference book (almost one thousand pages), this is another valuable collection, with clear archival aims, and definitely worth being read.