Act/React: Interactive Installation Art

October 4, 2008–January 11, 2009
Baker/Rowland Exhibition Galleries

The Museum is hosting, exclusively, the first extensive exhibition in an art museum of intuitive, digitally developed interactive art. Imagine entering the galleries and your movements trigger “brushstrokes” to create painterly patterns on the wall, colorful forms to reconfigure in your wake, or sounds to emit from seemingly inanimate objects. Step inside and experience these extraordinary immersive environments by six pioneers of responsive art.

“Interactive cinema” and other projects involving computer keyboards and similar mechanical interfaces have been explored throughout the history of installation art. This exhibition presents a sampling of what is a growing body of artwork, where the interactivity involved is non-technical and performed with the entire body of the viewer. These ten installations invite you to move through space, to explore how your motions affect the images, lights, or sounds around you. Go ahead—ACT on your curiosity.

Learn more »

Meet the artists whose works you will encounter in Act/React

Brian Knep

Knep, who won two Academy Awards (for Scientific and Engineering, and Technical Achievement) for his work on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), has been applying his technological expertise to artworks. His newest project, Healing Pool, is a 30 x 20-ft interactive floor piece that will premiere in this exhibition.

Daniel Rozin

Daniel Rozin’s works use a variety of mirror metaphors and explore the reflective nature of new media, where pieces of junk, chrome spheres, or television static become the pixels of a video camera image, creating a “reflection” of the viewer.

Janet Cardiff

The collaborative duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have forged a multimedia practice that critics have identified as one of the most significant breakthroughs in conceptual art in the past decade. They are known for their narrative, audio-driven walks through museums and urban landscapes. To Touch (1991), a work solely by Cardiff, is an object that, when stroked gently, talks to you.

Scott Snibbe

Scott Snibbe’s Boundary Functions (1998) and Deep Walls (2003) respond to the interactions of individuals relative to one another. The floor and wall, respectively, become activated as each person moves in the space, recording their presence as visual theatre.

Liz Phillips

For 39 years, Liz Phillips has been combining audio and visual art forms with new technologies. A pioneering artist in interactive technologies, Phillips has recently invented systems that create an interactive and multi-dimensional sound-landscape.

Camille Utterback

Camille Utterback has been active in interactive installation since 1999. Her first interactive piece, Text Rain, is a landmark work in the field. Since 2001, she has been working on a series that explores human interactions within a painterly environment. These are dynamic compositions that react to human motion in the gallery space, creating imagery that is painterly, organic, and evocative.


Member Preview Celebration

Thursday, October 2, 5:00–9:00 p.m.

$20/Free for Members
6:15 p.m. Program with guest curator George Fifield
7:30 p.m. Performance, Triptych in Four Movements by UWM’s Luc Vanier, performed by the Milwaukee Ballet
Appetizers and cash bar

Member-Only Preview Days

Thursday, October 2, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Friday, October 3, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Be among the first to experience what it’s like to physically engage with this intuitive, motion-activated art.
Free for members

Member-Only Gallery Talk and Artists’ Panel

Friday, October 3, 1:30 p.m.

Join curators George Fifield and John McKinnon as they discuss the works in Act/React with the artists themselves, after a tour of the exhibition.
Free for members

30-Minute Express Talks

Thursday, October 9–Nov 20, Noon

Free with exhibition admission

Gallery Talks

Tuesday, October 7, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 28, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, November 11, 1:30 p.m.

Free with exhibition admission

Lecture: Art on the Edge: Technology and Its Consequences?

Thursday, October 16, 6:15 p.m.

Join Steve Dietz, artistic director of the Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge, as he discusses what’s next in new media and its consequences.
Free with general admission

Artist’s Lecture: Expanded Cinema

Thursday, November 13, 6:15 p.m.

Come see the new installation by Amy Granat in Sensory Overload, opening today, before hearing about the broadening visual effects used in contemporary artworks.
Free with general admission

Act/React Catalogue + DVD

The 82-page catalogue features essays by guest curator George Fifield and former professor at M.I.T. Judith Donath, as well as a DVD with interviews, video documentation of the artwork, and biographies of the artists. The catalogue, co-produced with ASPECT, will be available for purchase beginning October 1 in the Museum Store and at $34/$30.60 Member

Act/React is guest curated by George Fifield, founding director of Boston Cyberarts, Inc., and coordinated at the Museum by Curatorial Assistant John McKinnon.
Sponsored by: PDS+HP National City Bank
  • Brian Knep, Healing #1, 2003. Computer, custom software, video projectors, video cameras, vinyl flooring. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.
  • Daniel Rozin, Snow Mirror, 2006. Computer, custom software, video camera, projector, silk. Dimensions variable. Edition of 6. Courtesy of bitforms gallery, New York, and ITP, Tisch School of the Arts, New York.
  • Janet Cardiff, To Touch, 1993. Wooden carpenter's table, electronic photo cells, audio speakers. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.
  • Camille Utterback, Untitled 6, 2005. Surveillance camera, computer, video projector. Dimensions variable. Photo by Camille Utterback.