Tête à Tête: Embodying Dialogues is an exhibition that takes interaction with art as its starting point. It postulates that viewer interaction creates a lasting impression, a moment, and that artistic messages are internalized through these means. Interaction with art does not necessarily mean “interactive art.” While we as curators are interested in the potential of digital work to immerse the viewer, we seek a broader definition of interaction; namely, one which is intertwined with “play.” We see play as a bridge to critical thinking and as a portion of art’s internalization by its viewer.
Integral to our thesis is our definition of the word sciart. Science involves experimentation to reach a hypothesis. We believe that not only is a successful work of art arrived at via similar methods of exploration, but viewers engage in a trial-and-error approach when interacting with a work. Perhaps they step back, perhaps they get very close; at times the circle a work, at times they squat down to better view its intricacies. All of this is done while searching for meaning, understanding, and intent to be translated to the viewer through visual means.
And yet, we broaden this definition beyond that of the purely visual to one featuring bodily participation, or embodiment. Embodiment is a term which has its roots in theater and educational psychology. It postulates that many aspects of cognition are shaped by the body, and is seen as critical to the learning process as enacted by movement. Tête à Tête showcases art that causes the body to move in its interactions, thus considering new spaces and dimensions for traditionally visual learning. We see the possibilities of learning choreographed through visual means.
As we examine this relationship between artwork and viewer, the space we concentrate on is the space between the two. The distance between is where the invisible exchange of information occurs and where dialog between artist and viewer transpires. As a viewer engages through steps around, back, and forth with the artwork in a dance of trial and error seeking meaning, the artist has already set forth space for understanding through motion. And although the artist is not present, the artist’s thought process is embodied through the viewer’s understanding of the work, acted out in real-time through physical steps. We thus call this embodied dialog a tête à tête, a mind-meld, a merging of two ideas coalescing and arriving at the same conclusion through an object as intermediary.
The most successful work of art creates an experience. Tête à Tête: Embodying Dialogues searches for and draws out these pivotal moments for relationships between viewer and art to form.