Forget imitations: In spaces that incorporate interactive public art commissions, life is art.

Whether video dependent, light oriented or user supported, interactive art inherently changes the user or visitor experience. “It creates an entirely different piece of dialogue, where it’s about you, the viewer, being the subject of the work,” says Lincoln Schatz, a Chicago-based new media artist whose video installations juxtapose stored images with real-time video. “Sculpture makes a more didactic statement through the placement of an object, but this work invites users to become part of it.” Interactive commissions also encourage a separate dialogue among users, Walczak notes. “It’s a social event. We’ve noticed people will gather around and socialize in a way they wouldn’t in a regular setting. It gives them an excuse to talk to people.”

Pieces also may make a statement to the community. Recently, Schatz worked with Dallas developer Billingsley Company in creating an interactive piece for the lobby of One Arts Plaza, a new building in the city’s arts district. For Billingsley, the new media commission is an evolution of the company’s lobby design philosophy. “Too many times you put something trendy into a lobby and four years later you have to redo the whole thing. We treat our lobbies as galleries and make them classically modern,” says Lucilo Peña, director of development for Billingsley. The Dallas building, he notes, is surrounded by work by Pritzker Prize winners Sir Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, I.M. Pei, and Rem Koolhaas, and resides at the end of the district that is more performing arts oriented. That said, the pressure was on to create something memorable.

“We kept thinking about what represents our time and what are new technologies in art. We also though about the combination of visual arts and performance art,” Peña says. Schatz’s piece, entitled “From Here,” selectively captures video and continuously merges the present with the past. “If you stand in front of the piece, it documents you but may or may not keep your image as part of its memory,” Peña notes. “I think that people over time will be enticed to see themselves overplayed with images of the space’s history….It becomes a memory of the place.”

By Katie Weeks
Contract Magazine | June 1, 2007
© 2007 Contract Magazine