Here in Vancouver, we have an outdoor sculpture exhibition called the Vancouver Biennale. Large, sometimes colourful, sometimes controversial outdoor sculptures dot parks and public spaces around town.
Possibly the most popular one is at English Bay. It’s popular partly because of its high-traffic location, but it’s also popular because it’s fun. It’s called A-Maze-ing Laughter, and is a large circle of bronze figures laughing. The piece is by Yue Minjun, and uses that face that we often see in his work.
I drive past this sculpture almost every day. And there are very few times when I drive past it that there are not tourists interacting with it. They are taking photos with it, hanging off of arms, and imitating the faces that the sculpture faces are making.
It’s not in a stuffy museum that you have to pay admission to get into. There are no signs that say “don’t touch.” There are no glowering security guards posted nearby. It’s accessible and people have fun interacting with it.
When you allow your consumer to interact with your art, it makes them feel important. It makes them feel like they are part of the artistic process, and by doing so, they buy in to what you are selling. You are giving them a piece of ownership, and they will be proud and enthusiastic about their little piece of your art piece, no matter how small.
Radix Theatre, for example, is currently working on a piece called Beautiful Problems, which is about how technology has had an impact, both positive and negative, in our lives. They have recruited volunteers from the community to be a part of the show–not just to perform in it, but to help with its creation. They are soliciting pieces of outdated technology and the story that goes with them for the show. They are giving their audience every opportunity to have a say in the final outcome of the show.
In what ways can you build interactivity into your art work? Can you give your end user a piece of the creation process?