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Tmema (Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman)

The Manual Input Workstation (2004-2006)

Documentary Collection

Tmema, The Manual Input Workstation (2004-2006)
Introduction to the Collection, by Katja Kwastek

The documentary collection on Tmema’s The Manual Input Workstation has been inspired by the documentation method developed by Lizzie Muller and Caitlin Jones.

The mission of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. in Linz, Austria, was to pursue innovative research in the areas of indexing, analyzing, and presenting media art within the broader context of media technology and art history. Basing herself on this mission, Katja Kwastek conducted several research projects on interactive media art, placing particular focus on the aesthetics of the interaction. The research and documentation of interaction processes within the arts is as problematic as it is underdeveloped. Such research should not only question how people interact and make sense of the interaction (the focus of interaction design evaluation methods) but should also examine to what extent they reflect on their interaction and deal with offers that are deliberately ambiguous. On the one hand, documenting the audience experience should aim to record experiences of a general audience, dealing with the installation in an open-minded and unbiased manner. On the other hand, talking about aesthetic experiences requires considerable reflective and language skills.

The "documentary collection" approach, developed by Jones and Muller, was found to be an ideal way to do justice to the various possible research and reception perspectives of interactive artworks, achieving the goal of documenting a general audience by allowing several individuals to document their experiences and complementing these with statements from the artists and other sources. The process allows for a good balance between expert knowledge, artistic insights and general audience observation.

This led the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. to invite Muller and Jones to Linz as fellow researchers to produce two documentary collections within the framework of the exhibition See this Sound: Promises in Sound and Vision. The exhibition was presented at the Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz as part of a large cooperative research project on the subject conducted by the LBI and Lentos as part of Linz09 Cultural Capital of Europe.

While Muller and Jones were focusing on a documentary collection of David Rokeby's Very Nervous System, Katja Kwastek and Ingrid Spörl were handling the collection of Tmema’s The Manual Input Workstation and cooperated closely with Muller on the interviews conducted.

Although the documentary collection of The Manual Input Workstation covers the work in as many aspects as possible, its main focus is the aesthetics of interaction and reflection on sound-image relations.

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. thanks the Daniel Langlois Foundation for making it possible to publish these collections as a complement to the prior collections assembled. Special thanks go to Lizzie Muller (audience interview method), Ingrid Spörl (interviews), Sigrid Nagele (camera), Ulrike Pimminger (camera and video editing), Ludovic Carpentier (Webmaster), and to all the volunteers who participated in the interviews.

Katja Kwastek © 2010 FDL