Interactive Audiovisual Objects
by Nuno N. Correia
Aalto Arts Books, Esbo, Finland, 2013
242 pp., illus. Paper, 35.00 €
Reviewed by John F. Barber
The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program
Washington State University Vancouver
Interactive Audiovisual Objects is the dissertation produced by Nuno N. Correia in partial requirement for a degree granted by the School of Arts, Design and Architecture at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland. Specifically, Correia’s dissertation studies four projects combining visuals, sounds, and interactivity by the author and André Carrilho (collectively known as Video Jack). The purpose of these projects was to create web-based interactive audiovisual art projects that would involve and promote simultaneous manipulation of sound and motion graphics in a way that was coherent, flexible, easy to use, playful, and engaging to experience.
The four projects were: Heat Seeker (2006), AVOL (2007), Master and Margarita (2009), and AV Clash (2010). Each project was developed with a cross-platform perspective in multiple formats: performance, net art, non-interactive video, soundtrack, and exhibition. Correia’s study focuses on the net art aspect of each project.
The cultural context for Correia’s study is characterized by changes in music and audiovisual art, specifically the increasing importance of visual content in association with music; the ascendance of music videos, audiovisual art, and VJing in club culture; audience interest in participatory engagement with music; the increasing significance of the Internet as a distribution channel for audiovisual media; and the pervasiveness of audio and video remixes.
The methodology utilized for this study was practice-based research, original investigation in order to gain new knowledge partially by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. This research followed the development path for each of the four projects studied, noting particularly iterative developments in each where the research oscillated between narration and abstraction, a point believed to enable comparison between the projects. Combined with a user study (online questionnaire composed of open and close-ended questions), the resulting multiple readings for each project provided, according to Correia, a trustworthy basis for determining each project as a separate work of art evolving from multiple origins and iterations.
While the conclusions from this study were primarily related to the four specific projects and are grouped around six topics––content, interactivity, experience, project management, methodology, and future developments––Correia argues they can be abstracted into more generic considerations that will benefit the future development of interactive audiovisual art. For example, Correia says the introduction of Interactive AudioVisual Objects (IAVOs) as a modular approach to user-controllable audiovisual objects used in net art compositions will provide a more coherent experience with interactive audiovisual objects. Second, Correia says the study suggests the importance of social networks for promoting IVAOs, as well as for distributing spin-off media, and establishing a dialog with users. Finally, says Correia, the study suggests value in investigating new methods of interaction such as gesture and multi-touch.
As an epilogue, Correia notes increasing opportunities for users to create and consume IAVOs, in what he calls “a largely unexplored territory” (93) facilitated by new means of authorship, widespread use of mobile technologies, and more advanced and intuitive interaction capabilities in mainstream devices. Interactive Audiovisual Objects will surely provide a useful map for those wishing to explore this territory.
The remainder of the book is comprised of seven publications focusing on the four net art projects, Heat Seeker, AVOL, Master and Margarita, and AV Clash, the four Video Jack projects that formed the focus of Correia’s dissertation. Each is republished here, and each presents the development of a particular project in web art versions but mentions other formats.
So, in the end, Correia and Carrilho (collectively known as Video Jack) produced four web-based interactive audiovisual projects. They published articles about each project. Then, they invited user comments regarding how each project might be made more interactive. This feedback, combined with Correia’s own practice-based research of the iterative changes to each project, provides recommendations for how future net artists might approach making more interactive audiovisual objects. As noted, Correia’s conclusions are useful contributions to the field of interactive audiovisual art.