Towards an Aesthetic of The Interactive (CADE remix)

The Interactive is situated in the discourse of the user/player and discussed here in terms of domains of engagement and causality, each of which is defined by a tension between qualities within the domain and each of which is affected by a dynamic of learning and familiarity. In its inherently ergodic nature, that discourse exists as particular instances which may never be shared. In its inevitable narrativity, in its construction of meaning through fleeting fragments juxt Alan Peacock

Abstract aposed in time, and in its unique instance determined by selection and selection histories, this discourse is unlike that of other media and represents a distinct and different way of storying the world. Reference is made to several contemporary interactive artworks and the text concludes with a short but detailed critique using the ideas mapped out in the preceding text.


Interactivity – aesthetics – ergodic – new media theory - multimedia
Of Terms and Words

This paper addresses the received experience of interactive media. It is concerned with the experience of the audience, viewer, listener, user, player ...... however it is we wish to style the person experiencing the moment of interaction, and the qualities of their experience. Its centre is the moment of discourse that forms the experience, its meanings and resonances which exist as an emergent sequence of interbound actions and effects, causes and reactions, moments and histories.

The paper's title has two problematic terms – 'aesthetics' and 'The Interactive'. Both of these have loose meanings at this time, they are much squabbled over by thinkers and talkers, and that reflects, possibly, a broader cultural condition of uncertainty amid change. The purpose of this paper is not served well by engaging in a discussion of terms and fining definitions, but the nature of the terms requires some clarity about how they are used.

'The Interactive' (used as it is shown here, with the initial capitals, to distinguish it from related terms such as 'interactivity', 'the interface', 'interactive multimedia') refers to experiences that include a feedback loop and mutually (self-) modifying sequences and choices within the sequences, that form a particular instance from many possibilities (Aarseth's use of 'ergodic'). Usually, we will understand The Interactive to mean experiences mediated by and including computer systems that take in physical world actions, and give out display in visual, sonic and haptic sensory domains, singly or in combination.

The paper argues for an understanding of the qualities of The Interactive. 'Qualities' that bring together elements of visual, sonic and haptic sensations and actions, aspects of play, puzzlement, reward, concentration, anticipation, understanding, knowledge, critical engagement, feelings of dialogue – which taken together constitute a 'texture' of The Interactive as received experience. A 'texture' dissimilar to that of other experiences and which is the point of the discussion about its aesthetics. Qualities that act within the discourse to communicate (connotatively, metaphorically) values, attitudes and positions.
The contained loop, the 'self-modifying' process, of The Interactive.

'Aesthetics' is used here to mean the quality and condition of the experience of the user/player when engaged with instances of The Interactive. It is used without judgement about the relative qualities of that experience and its reception. It is not used simplistically to judge works based on their compliance with a set of arbitrarily imposed or evolved set of rules, or notions, of beauty or cultural worth or norms. It is used both descriptively - because in describing we share, and experiences that are shared have a different and more compelling meaning than ones which are not, and analytically as a way of discussing the particular features of an instance of The Interactive - because such discussion informs our understanding as audience and, perhaps more importantly, as practitioners.

We must initially accept, also, that the discourse of The Interactive is inherently dynamic – it shifts over time as familiarity develops and learning takes place. The Interactive is a place of languages and stories, and human beings are adept at acquiring languages of image, sound, action and at making sense of the world through storying it, sharing it in image, sound, action. The Interactive is, also, inherently political, it models and forms, reinforces and consolidates, embodies and communicates sets of values and judgements about worth, place, identity, role and status. In this The Interactive is a medium (in McLuhan's meanings of the term) in its own right. Importantly, The Interactive as we experience it mediated through computer technologies, is a new medium - in many ways unlike others that preceded it.

Some context

This paper is centred in the experience of the user, player, audience. It rejects certain ideas and terms that have informed interface design as these are often motivated from a maker's perspective (particularly the concept of 'non-linear' which is exclusively a concept based in the privileged overview of the maker). It steps beyond the keyboard/mouse/monitor point and click paradigm of the commercial/personal/domestic computing space to include works that exist in public spaces and use novel interface devices and situations, and which subvert the conventional language of point and click. In this it seeks to discuss the full range of The Interactive from systems whose purpose it is to provide ready access to underlying data through to artworks whose purpose is the moment of The Interactive itself. Its concerns range from information-led instances of The Interactive to experience-led instances – from the interface design of medical or engineering databases to computer games and simulations, to artworks which exploit and enquire into the technologies, cultures and conditions of The Interactive itself.

The discussion here follows on from previous work published in the Spring 2000 edition of Convergence and a paper presented the previous year at the 'Creativity and Consumption' conference at the University of Luton. That paper dealt with ideas about redundancy (predictability) and entropy (uncertainty) in interactive artworks and related those ideas to the work of Marshall McLuhan, Espen J Aarseth, Grusin and Bolter, and others. Redundancy and Entropy were discussed as qualities mapped onto a domain of 'consistency', and individual instances were located in that domain by their tendency towards either of the qualities. Information led systems have a tendency (a strong one) to Redundancy, they gain from the ritualised predictability implicit in redundant systems. Art works and entertainment artefacts have a tendency to the Entropic, there is delight in the unexpected.

The notion of domains which both identify and isolate characteristics of The Interactive, and which have qualities that range from one condition to another remains, and is further explored here. These domains are imbricated, they overlay each other and any work is typically described by the pattern of emphasis, or tendencies, within the overlaid domains mapped, as it were, through their layers.

The central concern of this paper is with domains of engagement and cursality. These extend the axis of redundancy/entropy within the domain of consistency and draw attention to particular aspects of the aesthetics of The Interactive.

From deliberate to inadvertent

The first domain explored here is that of 'engagement'- that is, where the player/user stands (both literally and metaphorically) in relation to the place or devices of interaction. How they relate, at a physical level, to the devices of interactivity, the hardware components that respond to their movements, actions, voices, and how empowered they are in determining the outcomes of their actions.

From the outset, we must recognise that the familiar mouse/keyboard/monitor paradigm that so thoroughly characterises the current business/domestic (and even educational) implementation of computing – and which it must be acknowledged has made computer technologies readily accessible within a mass market – is not the only model of The Interactive. Following on from that we must acknowledge, also, that the familiar paradigm constitutes a particular medium and as such embodies a set of values and cultural statements about relationships, empowerment and control in political and economic fields.

The dominant paradigm of the mouse/keyboard/monitor and its crude/naive operating system metaphors (or more truly similes) of desktops, filing cabinets and documents is allied to and models at a level of action and thought, the imperatives of business organisations and the relentless information drift of burgeoning bureaucracies. It is about The Interactive as a way of accessing, manipulating and using an invisible set of data that has its own (and more important but un-understandable) existence somewhere else in some other form. It is about the interface into, or onto, disembodied information, virtualised data. And the kind of Human-Computer Interface design that seeks to make this form of The Interactive more efficient, less prone to errors, easier to use, has its own particular concerns, histories and methodologies.

In the main this form of The Interactive, this information-led mode, is concerned with deliberate actions and predictable consequences. It is characterised, as I have said elsewhere, by redundancy, by predictability of a ritualised kind because that brings a reassurance in the accuracy and reliability of the information and so sanctions its meaningfulness in broader cultural terms. However, such a certainty is open to subversion, to being reframed as its.

If deliberate actions and predictable events reassuringly the same time after time mark one edge of the domain of 'engagement', then the further edge from there is marked by inadvertent actions and entropic events. By works which respond to people walking by, perhaps unaware that their actions break an ultrasonic beam, that their body temperature triggers a Passive InfraRed detector. By events that are inherently unpredictable, or unexpected in form, location, content

As in the work of Susan Collins, for example, where the passer-by in the street, or the visitor in a gallery, triggers the video projection of the image of a banana onto the pavement, or a sound from boxes in a museum stack, by moving through the field of an infra-red detector. At first the user/player is not aware that their movement is a significant action within The Interactive of the work, later they may puzzle out that moving here, stepping back, stepping forward causes something to happen. As they do this, of course, so their actions become increasingly deliberate and the moment of discourse shifts, changes, tending towards the deliberate and so also towards the redundant. The message of the medium here is a growing control, an increasing influence exerted in the nature of the experience, and an emphasis on the experience not as a way of representing something else but as a thing in itself. The 'information' in the experience is embodied in the experience itself, there is no ('more important but un-understandable') data to be accessed. The texture of The Interactive has an immediacy, and an inclusive involvement in which the reader/user/player becomes part of the discourse and in that becoming directs the form of it.
A work such as the web-version of Geoffrey Ryman's 253 ( maintains a tendency towards deliberate actions. Here The Interactive is the means to accessing a set of data, the personal stories of each of the characters. Stories which can be seen as being a correlative of data in business or government information systems. In 253 the confirmation of the mouse/monitor/keyboard paradigm with its point-and-click actions is a distancing device that maintains a slightly detached, outside-looking-in quality to the work. The form The Interactive takes informs a stance the reader assumes, a stance that addresses issues of the individual placed among the mass, the familiarity of strangers, the uniqueness of the personal, the nature of tragedy, a position of privileged knowledge, insight and understanding. The illusory objective observer.
Artists have exploited the mouse/keyboard/monitor paradigm by subverting it, for example, inverting how the cursor is mapped to the screen, by programming a hypertext link to be made on rollOver rather than on mouseClick, by using continually moving sprites as links, by placing hotspots in a image without differentiation or affordance . This subversion of the familiar repurposes the discourse, placing its emphasis in the experience rather than in any interfaced data with values beyond the experience itself.
In Clive Gillman's Advent, the conventional point-and-click decision action is reaffirmed in the initial level and gradually subverted as the reader/player/user moves deeper into individual sections. The wok plays with deliberate and inadvertent actions as we explore the work and learn to control the pointer and mouse button in different ways to solve each of the puzzles. This reflects the increasingly enigmatic fragments of text that provide clues to the puzzles, the pictures in the album, the odd behaviour of things within the puzzles. And it models the mind, the character of the invisible narrator, that we slowly come to know.

Some puzzle games, problematised interface artworks, action games, rely on deliberate actions and initially unpredictable, entropic, effects. They require the mastery of reflexes and actions, of key- or button-press sequences when using a controller, joystick or mouse. A mastery that itself is the tendency towards redundancy. It may require an engaged mind testing out hypotheses of possible actions, or working through an intuitive trial and error process, until a solution is learned, found, discovered. As actions and their consequences become familiar, learned, so those actions become deliberate rather than inadvertent, and so the work has a tendency to become ritualised – and gains meaning for that.

It is, of course, possible to become familiar with the idea that The Interactive is a site of uncertainty, problematised actions and entropic effects. That the purpose is to explore and examine, to consider what happens if and when, to try out and to learn from (that is to self-modify in the light of) experiences, to expect them to apply not as correlations but perhaps as analogies. It is possible to envisage a state of the received experience where the user/reader/player anticipates and expects a ritualised unpredictability (as at, or in Simon Biggs' 'Great Wall of China',, and this, paradoxically carries the same reassurance and certainty (of uncertainty and complexity as an organising principle) as the closed certainty of redundant texts.

Some commentators have argued that the actions of interactivity – use of the mouse, clicking on a decision box, pressing a key, whatever – step into the discourse and disrupt it. Arguing that the moment of decision making interrupts a flow (which they assume the work should or must have) and so disturbs the experience of the work. This line of argument may itself be a cultural artefact – the commentators are voicing an experience of theirs as relatively new users who are over-conscious of the mediate technology, like new readers having to remember to turn the pages of a book, or sound out the letters of words – but it does serve to remind us that decision making of some kind is a necessary condition of The Interactive. The user forms story from more or less open sets of options which are presented to them. Their choices, and the consequences of those choices (in that they determine further choices) form both the narrative and the discourse that is the work. Navigating a work in which deliberate actions result in predictable outcomes is a very different aesthetic experience to negotiating one in which inadvertent actions and, so, unpredictable events, form a story by chance rather than through decision.

Decision making, anywhere in this domain, has a thrill, a frisson. whether it be the illusory empowerment of accessing records in a redundant/deliberate database with all the certainty and confidence in that data which comes from the aesthetic of such a system, to the knowing selection of threads within an polycursal story, to the puzzlement and frustration of sorting out how this thing works. Each of these characterises an aspect of The Interactive, and within artworks contributes to the wholeness of the discourse, resonates with and within the meaning meshes of the whole.
Using Michael Atavar's intimacy ( carries a charge because underlined text is not for clicking, it triggers when the cursor touches the letter. The 'mouseclick as decision' action is denied, things happen before they should, there is an initial frustration, a moment of lost control as the convention is unpicked and then refound. Here actions are extensions of continuous thought not a sequence interrupted, separated, by decision making. Although the reframing of our 'how do I use this' steps us out of the text for the moment – and this distance is itself an aspect of the work, connotative, metaphorical, part of the discourse.

This domain of engagement relates to McLuhan's 'Hot/Cool' media. Hot media are high-definition, they are 'complete' in that the effort required of the reader to construct sense is low. Cool media are low definition, they require considerable sense-construction from the reader. Works with a tendency towards deliberate are generally hot media forms, those with a tendency towards inadvertence are generally cool media forms. Generally.

Imbricated domains of The Interactive: the qualities of The Interactive of a artefact can be represented by drawing over the qualities of the domains which represent the work's tendency within each domain. Photocopy this diagram several times and use to map the characteristics of the works discussed in this text.


Alongside the domain of engagement falls one which is concerned with the density of choices and the flow of events. With the qualities of decision making that determine a particular instance of the work, and, the player/reader/user's awareness of the choices not made, the paths not followed. At one edge is a sense of completedness, of understanding the pathway(s) and where they lead, which may be seen to function as a reward I some situations as it suggests a mastery of the environment, and that may bring status among peers or recognised qualification of competent use. This sense of completion in a redundant/deliberate information-interface context is the ritualised certainty of the confident user which imbues the system with believability, reliability, trustworthiness. At the opposite edge lies an awareness of incompletedness, of dense pathways and decision making, of no certainty about necessary beginnings and closures, an incompletedness of knowledge as much as anything else. It is the place we all start from with a new piece of software.

This is the domain of 'cursality' (few apologies for this neologism – a unicursal maze is one with a single path, such as the turf cut maze in Saffron Walden, Essex, scarcely a place to become lost but a walk of considerable ritual resonance; 'cursality' then, is the pathedness of the maze, its turns and returns). This domain of completedness/incompletedness is closely related to Aarseth's use of 'tmesis' (a term he takes from Barthes, in The Pleasure of the Text). For Aarseth 'tmesis' is the sense of having skipped or missed sections of a text and the author's inability to know what has been, or will be, read or skipped. It is used here to mark the qualities of the received experience, where the experience of the user/reader/player includes their awareness of (in)completion, (in)completedness and (in)completeability (including the refusal of closure). This extended sense of tmesis is one measure of cursality. Others include a sense of repetition and looping, and the significance of the repeated parts, the perception of the possibility of understanding the whole, of having a complete grasp of the parts and how they relate one to another.

Cursality includes also their perception of the density of choices a reader/user/player is faced with. A density which depends on a number of factors such as whether or not decision points are displayed (that is they have a high affordance as clearly delimited buttons), or are integrated (hotspots not distinguished from surrounding images). On one side is a fixed menu list from which a selection is made, on the other is a work like Juvenate where the narrative is advanced by rolling the mouse over or through hotspots areas initially undifferentiated within the image. Aspects of Juvenate are discussed in more detail later.

Cursality is bound up with what has been called the illusion of choice, with the issues of navigating a work where the choices are determined by the author and choice is really selection. In part this relates to the idea of a site map, or overview, which explicitly lays out, in visual form, the makers mind's eye image of the separate parts so that the reader/user/player can have a privileged understanding of what is available. Such overviews embody ideas about the blurred boundary of author/reader where the reader constructs sequence and story and may leave traces of their actionss which, in turn themselves, expand the material available for later readers to use. Sitemaps and overview privilege the reader as the author is privileged in their grasp of the story.
In Geoffrey Ryman's 253 ( an overview in the form of a modified map of the London Underground system offers the initial entry point for the text. This is the first of many deliberate acts in a dense cursality of interconnected paths linking between and within individual lexia. The links are overt and have a clear purpose, they follow conventional web design in being blued and underlined. While it has a high level of complexity the cursality of this work tends towards completion, a sense on the part of the reader/user/player (even if mis-guided) that the work could be fully navigated, that there is a possible closure. As with the domain of engagement, the form of cursality here consolidates the discourse, setting a viewpoint and presence that is 'objective' and privileged in its movement, insight and understandings, and contains the illusion of empowerment.

Cursality, as used here, is the quality of The Interactive which involves the reader/player/user's apprehension of the work as a (knowable) whole. With the experiences which come with a knowledge that other paths were possible or not, that choices made could have been otherwise, of how much is not known, has been missed, will be missed and will be missed again.

Again there is a dynamic of learning and familiarity at work in this domain. What may appear to have a dense and impenetrable cursality on first engagement becomes to be seen as a simpler and clearer whole with further or longer engagement. What at first seems simple and mainly unicursal becomes more complex as a developing familiarity reveals hidden doors, or invisible 'secret' rollovers.

In Clive Gilman's 'Advent' the player/user faces a series of puzzle images in or through which they can identify a set of symbols. Failing to solve a puzzle makes you aware of the 'incompleteness' of the experience. There remains something to do, a pathway, here, to return to. Engaging with the work the user faces sets of choices, a dense 'cursality', at many levels – in the selection of a day from the calendar, in the initial exploration of images, in puzzling out the cryptic meanings in the diary entries, and all the possibilities there may be to solve the riddle. With an increased familiarity with the work comes a broader understanding of it and also a movement, a shift in the discourse, towards that 'wholeness of understanding' which contains the cursality even though individual parts or puzzles are not understood, completed. The shifts in cursality – from 'complete' to 'incomplete', from 'known' to 'unknown' play the discourse into the obsessional and dislocated 'character' of the narrator whose fragments these are.

In interactive narratives, which are often made up of 'fragments' bought into linear sequence by the users actions ('lexia') repetitions, loops, and nodes from which paths spread have a significance and meaningfulness unlike their presence in other media. While a film like Groundhog Day plays with a frisson of trapped repeating, in an interactive narrative the play of decisions that leads to a repetitive loop, or which repeatedly invokes the same place which leads off to different paths, carries a particular resonance. Repetitions and loops are paradoxically both complete and incomplete, repeatedly returning to a node point from which paths diverge is both the same place but also different in its sequence. Cursality is the perception of both the single line that is the outcome of actions and the possibility of all alternative paths leading to and from this point.

Loops and repetitions are both frustration and insight. Michael Joyce's Afternoon: a story, a 'story of revealing' has many node points and, written as it is in Storyspace, the author can set limits, gates, to what the reader/player/user may do after passing through once, twice, three times, each different. Here the work's location in the domain of cursality is constantly reviwed and restated. Just as the reader/player/user constantly reviews and restates their understanding of what has happened from the partial accounts avaialble to them.

In broad terms the domain of cursality overlies McLuhan's 'cool/hot' media concept in that completeness is a hot, high definition media form, and incompleteness a cool one. Importantly, works may contain shifts in cursality – which gives them a cooling tendency – a the purpose of the cursality shifts. Completion makes for ease of navigation, incompletion offers the richness of exploration.


The idea of 'domains' as put forward in this paper is intended to inform and enable the critical evaluation and understanding of The Interactive. They are not intended for taxonomical or categorising purposes. Indeed, the underlying dynamic of learning which characterises each domain insists on the absurdity of that as it would result in the continuous reclassification of a work as the classifier sought to understand it well enough to classify it at all,.

What they can do is support a discussion about the qualities of things interactive. A discussion which is founded in the texture of the experience of the audience/player/user, rather than in the privileged concerns of makers. The domains should direct us to the way the discourse that is the work is formed.

These domains are implicit in the work and in its construction of meanings. The imbricated domains resonate in the work to form its whole. The Interactive is as powerful a way of conveying meaning and values as the visual and sonic aspects of the work, and in its texture and forms is richly connotative and metaphorical.


Part of the preceding text was originally presented to the Computers in Art and Design Education (CADE) conference held in Glasgow, Spring 2001. During that conference I was given a copy of Juvenate, an interactive artwork distributed on CD-ROM, commissioned by the Australian Film Commission, and it sees fitting to finish this reworking by applying some of the ideas above to that work.

Juvenate is a rich and complex piece that uses collaged and montaged photographic quality imagery with animation, sound and interactivity. It is inherently narrative, offering fragments which the reader/user/player assembles through their actions into a narrative. And through that narrative they come to some understanding or accomodation with an underlying story. The fragments ('lexia') are differentiated by transitions, and themselves contain sound, animation (sub-stories), which are 'discovered' through interaction.

The story here is as much about an emotional state as it is a defined 'plotline' that can be discovered from the lexia, the fragments. In one instance (one reading in mid-May) the story is tragic, centred on illness, emotional breakdown, loss, in another instance (some days later) the story is about memories and childhood, poignant, plangent.

In some ways Juvenate is interactive movie, its underlying concerns with story and the way meaning is formed relate to cinematographic rather than literary traditions. It communicates not through description and character but through image and association, emotion and juxtaposition.

Juvenate uses a navigation process where the narrative advances (one lexia replacing another) by means of rollover zones. The cursor, controlled by the mouse easily and directly, is moved within the image and causes things to happen – sounds play or quiet, surfaces twinkle with light, seeds sprout, a chrysalis hatches, and also can cause the lexia to change, the story to advance.

This is an aspect of engagement, The Interactive of Juvenate is initially inadvertent – there are no obvious hotspots (no part of the image offers the affordance of a button), moving the mouse to explore the image has cause and effect, but at first there is no control, no predictability, implicit in action. Initially, the work advances, moves on through lexia, by itself. A growing familiarity with the lexia and their contents, with the slow stroking action of mouse use that produces the richest experience, brings the feeling of a growing control. Actions become more deliberate but there is no opportunity for decision as embodied in that quasi-authorial mouse click. This is a work that remains always just beyond certain control, it embodies a discourse that places the user/reader/player as subject rather than object, that involves the player/user/reader in the process of the emergent story rather than an observer of it.

Juvenate undoes choice, refuses selection. It privileges happenchance, coincidence, juxtaposition and association. Models, you may think, of the mind, of memory, even feelings.

Juvenate's tendency to inadvertence remains through repeated use, and this forms an integral part of the work overall. Navigation here is implicit in the discourse that is the work, and the ways in which its meanings are constructed. Inadvertence resonates metaphorically as our mouse actions parallel the nature of remembrance, or a failure to fully connect with others, the world around us.

Similarly, Juvenate carries a tendency towards a feeling of incompletedness. The act of starting is randomised, from the introduction we enter the work in any one of a number of lexia. We move between them inadvertently, with a continual feeling that there are other parts to see, things we may have missed, options and opportunities that have passed us by. Again this is correlative, it carries the emotional charge of the work, it is implicit in the discourse that is the piece. Cursality is complex and free flowing. Repetition of lexia, loops through sections in the same or similar sequence, returns to lexia from which several paths lead characterise the flow of the narrative. Even when one feels all parts have been seen there remains the feeling that not all associations have been explored, not all sequences experienced, that there is yet something else to come, to do, to find. There is no edge, no bound sides. And this resonates connotatively as part of the discourse. The world Juvenate depicts has fragile edges, unclear boundaries between dreaming times and waking times, memories and imaginations.

Interestingly, the authors of Juvenate have included both overt instructions on use on the opening page, and an overview or 'site map' option. Pressing 'j' at any time within a lexia brings up a screen with thumbnail images of each lexia (and quit, resume, etc). This is the only way out (unless you crash the software). It serves as a moment of closure as much as anything else. In its incompleteness, and in its uncertain start, Juvenate holds no set pattern. The user/player/reader has to decide when to stop, when to step out of the storyworld. The 'j' key press is a deliberate action which breaks the play of inadvertence, and an action of completion and redundancy because it brings (and always brings) closure in the moment of the overview screen. This 'site map' positions the reader/player/user outside of the work, privileging an overview not available within the discourse of the lexia by showing representations of the lexia that both display them in small and exclude them from this instance. The overview returns us to the world of deliberate actions and myths of wholeness, the world we left when mouseclicking on the sunflower start/enter on the opening screen.

Juvenate's tendency to the entropic marks it out from information led interfaces where The Interactive is about accessing underlying data, where truths reside in diembodied information. The uncertainties of the world(s) it includes us in are denied the reassurance of ritual and predictability. Although the fragments are the same to look at and play with(in), they are continually reframed in new associations, new accounts, new interpretations both within themselves by the discovery acts of moving the mouse and between them in the way movement advances the narrative without acts of decision. This includes us, involves us, forms a discourse where the truth is embodied in emotion and association.

Texts etc. mentioned, thought about, referred to, relied upon

&Mac183; Cybertexts, Espen J Aarseth, book, Johns Hopkins, 1997
&Mac183; How we became post-human, N Katherine Hayles, book, University of Chicago Press, 1999
&Mac183; Remediation, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, book, MIT Press, 1998
&Mac183; Hamlet on the Holodeck, Janet H Murray, book, MIT Press,1997
&Mac183; Computers as Theatre, Brenda Laurel, book, Addison-Wesley, 1993
&Mac183; From Text to Hypertext, Silvio Gaggi, book, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997
&Mac183; The Oulipo Compendium, book, ed Harry Mathew and Alastair Brotchie, Archive Six, Atlas Press, London, 1998

&Mac183;, web pages, see particularly installations - litter and every dog has its day
&Mac183; The Great Wall of China, Simon Biggs, cross-platform CD-ROM, ellipsis, London, 1998, web site at
&Mac183; Advent, Clive Gilman, cross-platform CD-ROM, Ellipsis, London, 1997
&Mac183; Juvenate, Michelle Glaser, Andrew Hutchison, Marie-Louise Xavier, details at
&Mac183; Afternoon: a story, Michael Joyce, published by Eastgate Systems,
&Mac183; Michael Atavar's intimacy is at
&Mac183; Geoffrey Ryman's 353 is at and has been repurposed into book form by Flamingo, 1998
&Mac183; nio, jim andrews, at

&Mac183; unpublished PhD thesis, Dr Tom Corby, London Institute, 2001 – this contains a survey of artists' thinkings about the notion of 'interactivity' in the context of their work over the last 30 years

Biographical note

Alan Peacock is a teacher, practitioner, theorist (but not necessarily in that order). His creative output is concerned with interactive artforms as novel interface devices, sound and the spoken word. He is currently involved in a project addressing issues related to arts-led content for palm held computers. He teaches at the University of Hertfordshire where he is Scheme Tutor to the MA Digital Practices and, within that programme, subject leader of the Hyperfictions strand.

University of Hertfordshire
Faculty of Art and Design
AL10 9AB