True Value of Interactive Installations

The image above is from Interactive Hockey installation which inspired this article.

But let’s start with 2 seemingly contradictory facts:

Fact number 1:

Whenever we look into someone’s eyes, part of our brain lights up (in a PET scan that is). The moment you have an eye contact with someone, the level of ‘experience’ you feel, elevates. I believe that this also makes it much more likely that you will have an exceptionally good experience than if you don’t interact with people.

Fact number 2:

“L’enfer, c’est les autres.”, a famous statement by J.P. Sartre, which can be loosely translated as: “Hell is other people.”, tells the other side of the coin. If you think about it, being in contact with other human beings can be the most pleasurable experience you can ever experience, yet it can also be one of the most stressful and tiring.

So, how can we make sure that, when people gather in a space or an event, they will have fun and not find it awkward or intrusive?

Perhaps we can learn from people in charge of team buildings – they know that exciting and fun shared experiences are one of the best social glues. And the keyword here is shared.

Interactive Installations

So, where do Interactive Installations come in? First, let’s establish what an interactive installation is, as this word gets thrown around quite a lot lately. Interactive Installations are, for the purposes of this article at least, installations where you have to interact with a piece of technology in order to get the full experience. As opposed to, say, a poster where all of the content is immediately available to you, in Interactive Installations only your actions reveal the whole content. Thus, if done correctly, the content becomes much more vivid and memorable.

This interaction with technology, combined with the fact that there is usually a number of people interacting with the same exhibit or a feature in a short time span, also encourages interaction between people. We simply find it easier to strike up a conversation with someone if we are sharing the same tangible experience than if we are just reading the same poster. And herein lies the true value of interactive installations. It’s not just to provide yet another new feature that will start fading the moment we see it for the first time. The true value is that they provide a social glue that helps to bring people together.

And that’s much more exciting than any technology.

Post written by Mitja Prelovšek

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