Intro: Computer-Driven Interactive Kiosk Artworks


The overarching mission of all my artwork is to join the best lessons and results of community mural painting and narrative digital technology. I see two ways that this may eventually come about. In "Muralworlds" the polygonal walls of a real-time virtual world will become bedecked with visuals, each image a hot interface widget leading to more informational text, animation, video or worlds. Collaborative group and community processes may have created or adapted these cyberspaces. Conversely, in "Smartwalls" richly painted environmental wall surfaces will reveal themselves as touch screens, activating previously hidden electronic information.

A free-standing computer kiosk with a painted facade is but a disconnected prototypical fragment of this future artform. What follows is an overview describing my interactive kiosks 1990-96 and the nature of their software and their painted facades into which the computer screens are cut.

These are intended to be exhibited as Macintosh-based kiosks, which in themselves are sketches for the Smartwalls interactive murals--where painted figurative environments reveal further layers of hypermedia information upon an appropriate touch--I hope to paint and Muralworlds I hope to create within the machine in the future. Works of this kind are one manifestation of my aesthetic of The Three C's.

1 DevilsFood Daniel (1993).
A HyperCard stack that examines the myth of Daniel Webster in light of my own experience at our shared alma mater Dartmouth College.
Mac facade: Webster's head.

2. The Trial of James Brown (1993).
A problematic HyperCard stack where a question posed to the singer elicits an audio response sampled from his well-known songs of the 1960s. Inspired by his 1988 arrest.
Mac facade: James and one of his Fabulous Flames.

3. Collaborationation: Garage Bands, Community Murals and Cyberspace (1992).
Macromind Director driven piece first exhibited in the Franklin Institute Science Museum, Philadelphia PA in November, 1992 along with "Fears". The artist's interactive meditation upon collaborative artforms that might influence development of multi-user participatory cyberspaces.
Mac facade: teenage rock musician.

4. Christopher Cumulonimbus (1991).
A self-running HyperCard stack whose drawn and scanned imagery explores 500 years of American history in 500 seconds (8 minutes 20 seconds). Created to silently accompany a musical and spoken word performance performed first at Philadelphia's University of the Arts in 1991 and again at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1992. Currently being modified for gallery exhibition to include its music and text.
Mac facade: Renaissance ship.

5. Hucklefine (1990).
A HyperCard stack that's a hypernovella using updated motifs from Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn". The chapters appear in random order courtesy an imaginative script by Mike Larkin, accompanied by an illustration also selected randomly. Along with a 1990 essay on hypermedia, the work formerly appeared in downloadable form from the Leonardo Online Gallery May 1994 issue.
Mac facade: 1950's Cadillac.

6.Also germane are the Ann Arbor works. These include interactive works in progress derived from a music/spoken word performance, as well CD-ROM prototype "The Ann Arbor Psychedelic Scene of the 1970s" and an interactive work in progress "Ypsiwatha". All of these could be effectively exhibited in a kiosk. As could the 1992 collaborative piece Fears.


Both murals and multimedia are friendly to the complicated and diffuse. All of my work seems content-driven and literary, and begins with a yearning and intuitive stirring-around of a topic before I have chosen its proper form. Yet in whatever media, its texture is usually characterized by of profuse imagery and text, almost profligacy and an excess of information. Once accused by a painting professor of "trying to make painting do too much", the computer now gives me a useful organizing and exhibition tool, while hypermedia or multimedia structures allow user-controlled access and navigation. This technology gives syntactical structures to artists with too much to say.



Return to Opening.