Installations and Interactivity

For many years I have researched and been interested in installations and the interactivity used with them. I am researching them as I am wanting to use an installation rather than something just on a screen, such as my idea to use ferrofluid in a container, and using a sensor to control the interaction, it will adjust the position of the magnet. Todd Winkler (2000) explored the idea that “participants may become part of the work itself, as others outside of the sensing area view the spectacle of their interaction while seeing the results”, this is what I am hoping to achieve, that people will interact with my design and others will stand and watch, but want to engage too when they can.

These are some examples of interactive projects made using Processing:

These are from the the exhibition archives on the Processing website. I find the plastic bags example very interesting as it takes the simple idea of camera interaction with pixels and creates it into a fully immersive installation using simple tools like plastic bags. The process and making of it would not have been simple, through having to use coding, mapping the pixels, creating an air supply to inflate and deflate the bags and also the linking to the camera or sensor, but the outcome is very simple yet effective for both the audiences watching and participating as it puts the audience into the piece, making them a part of the art.

The fluid example is also very interesting as it is as simple as just touching the surface that will create a reaction. As they explain in the summary of the video, it also creates a collaboration and teamwork when people come together to see what can be created from numerous different people interacting with it. I also find the scientific reaction very interesting as it is very similar to the effect of ferrofluid which I am hoping to use for my final outcome.

“Interactive media itself is part of the exhibition ‘content’ that visitors should experience and engage with; interaction with an installation is part of its ‘message’” (Hornecker and Stifter, 2006). The main idea I am getting from researching installations, is that there is numerous levels of interactivity which require different levels of audience participation to be able to create the message from the installation. Such as some designs just need the audience to walk past to interact, whereas some require the audience to fully immerse themselves within the installation using many different senses. For my project I want the user to do more than just walk past to be part of the design, so this is why I have decided to form an installation rather than simply graphics on a screen.

Both of these and many others interactive designs are made using Arduino and Processing combined. So I am going to research about Arduino boards and the possibilities of what I could make with it.


Hornecker, E. and Stifter, M. 2006. Learning from Interactive Museum Installations About Interaction Design for Public Settings [online]. OzCHI, NZ. Available from: [15th December 2014].

Winkler, T. 2000. Audience Participation and Response in Movement-Sensing Installations [online]. Brown University, USA. Available from: [15th December 2014].

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