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The one thing, however, I think that does need to be pointed out to people when they're talking about interactive art and the notion of something being interactive. The amount of energy that you spend, for instance, to get yourself together to go to a gallery and walk around the gallery from picture to picture is much more than the amount of energy that you spend to click from image to image on a computer screen. So that the energy that you put out to be interactive with classical texts--they are much more interactive--is greater because you have to do things to get to them that involve you in a much larger way than the way you interact with something on a computer screen.

All texts, in a sense, are hypertext. You come to a word you don't understand, so you look it up in the dictionary. You read a passage and you stop and you think about another book; you may even put it down and go get another book off your bookshelf and read something about something else. Texts are not linear. Texts are multiple and for anybody who really reads and enjoys reading, it is an interactive process.

What hypertext and the interactive material do is make that a much less energy-intensive process; as such, on the absolute scale, they are less interactive than the ones we've got now because in order to interact with the ones you've got now, you have to put out more energy. Now I think something is gained by having the interactivity require less energy. It becomes a medium in itself that's interestingly exploitable.

But not only do you limit the amount of interactivity, you also limit the places you can go. So the interactive text is not an expansion of what we've got now; it's a delimitation of what we've got now. If you read, as I was doing a couple of days ago, Walter Pater's "Plato and Platonism," I stop every two pages or less and have to go read a section from Heidegger or read a section by Derrida where he's talking about Plato. "Is that where this idea came from? Oh! Why is he using this word 'parousia'? Didn't I see this word?"

Just bear in mind that the interactivity in the new different interactive art is less energy-intensive and there are less places that you go within it. It's fascinating, and it's lots of fun, but it's not more interactive than what we had before; it's less interactive.

Samuel Delany on Hypertext

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24 days ago

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