Interactive visual art includes a wide range of media and practices. The most basic requirement is that viewer must interact with the artwork in some way other than by simply looking at it. Interactive art is often created to challenge traditional rules about making and viewing art. The different types of interactive visual art involve the use of electronic video or audio, computers or other electronic devices, but they do not necessarily have to use electricity or electronics. Interactive art usually is associated with contemporary art, but earlier examples exist.
The underlying goal of interactive visual art is to give viewers a role in the creation of the artwork. Its polarity grew rapidly in the second half of the 20th century as an overt challenge to traditional roles of artists. It also was influenced by challenges to political authority that were occurring outside the art world.
The works often take the form of an interactive installation that is reassembled each time it is displayed in a new space. This art form continues to evolve, constantly employing new technological tools and mediums. It often borrows from interactive design, which is used in numerous sectors outside the art world. The proliferation of digital technologies allowed for rapid advancement of interactive visual art. Even so, interactive visual art does not necessarily have to employ cutting-edge technology.
Text, audio, painting, sculpture and photography can be employed in interactive visual art. Video and other mediums can be employed as well. Common electronic elements include digital film or audio, electronic screens and computer programs that allow users to input information. In fact, some artworks are entirely contingent on prompts or responses from the viewer.
The range of viewer-art interactions varies as much as the imaginations and capabilities of those who create interactive art. Viewers might be required to complete actions such as pressing a button, touching a screen, clicking a mouse, entering a space or rotating an object manually. They might be required to move their bodies, walk, sit, turn a page or make a noise. Some works have been designed so that users actually see themselves as part of the work by using mirrors, real-time video and screens, interactive projections and other devices. Interactive visual art might also have a performance element in which viewers must participate.
The installation-based nature of much interactive visual art means that the work is sometimes transitory. This can make the works more difficult to collect. The issue is even more common with internet-based art.