The cardinal rule in most art galleries is “no touching.” You should keep your distance, admiring from afar, and if you have to get close, it’s to study the brush strokes with your nose just a few inches away from the canvas.
But then there’s interactive art, which actually requires the viewer to get hands-on.
Take, for instance, artist Gaelen Sayres’ piece “I light this candle in a transaction,” which was featured at last year’s annual art event Terrain. It resembles a traditional votive offering you might see in a church, but it’s mechanized: When a credit card is swiped through a reader on the side, the machine whirs, an electric candle lights up, and a personalized “prayer” is produced from a receipt printer at the bottom.
Sayres’ piece is one of the inspirations for Art Up Weekend, a 21-hour collaboration between local artists to produce interactive art to be displayed at this year’s Terrain.
Luke Baumgarten, a co-founder of Terrain, likens Art Up to a hackathon, in which large groups of computer programmers convene in a single space, sometimes for days at a time, to collaborate on software projects. The event will begin this evening and will continue through the next afternoon; participants are welcome to pull all-nighters if need be.
Visual artists, sculptors, welders, graphic designers, tech wizards, and anyone with an interest in Spokane’s art scene are all encouraged to attend and pitch their ideas for art pieces. The event will be one-half brainstorming and one-half execution, with everyone rallying their resources to turn their visions into realities.
Terrain is now in its sixth year, but Art Up is a new concept. “This is the first year we’ve done this,” Baumgarten said. “We’re still trying to figure out what form this thing is going to take, but the ultimate goal is to have finished pieces of art that are awesome and interactive.”
Although it’s essentially a test run, Baumgarten believes that Art Up has the potential to be a success, and that it could develop and thrive over the years as Terrain has. Whether the weekend will generate finished and working products remains to be seen, but he anticipates a conversation to develop among people who hail from all corners of the art world.
“Our hope is to get people from a bunch of different backgrounds in the same room together and see what sort of magic we can capture in a bottle,” he said.