An Evening with Blast Theory’s Matt Adams Reflection

Matt Adams is an artist in Blast Theory and is renowned for the usage of multidisciplinary approach as well as in using new technologies in theater, games, and visual art.

During his talk on Saturday night, the first thing and probably the most striking key point throughout the whole talk was the equation: “interactive = unfinished”. He stated right at the beginning of the talk that when a work was to be interactive, it also means that it is unfinished. From my understanding of what he meant, it was that when there is an interactive piece, the element of interactivity leaves this sense of openness as to how the audience want to approach and engage it. As the artist they cannot force an experience on audience and it is up to the audience themselves to figure out what kind of experience they want to acquire out of the work and also how do they want to become of the artwork. The participants and their experience play an important part in “completing” the projects. While the outcome may be unpredictable, the artist still has to ensure that the work is structured in its narrative and presentation as the project goals and objectives.

The two works that struck me most was “Karen” and “2097”. 

“Karen” is a mock life-coach that would eventually develop boundary issues and leaves its users feeling distinctly uncomfortable. It is point-of-view, part story and part game, designed to be played over a period of days, and offers a deliberately unsettling experience that’s intended to make us question the way we bare ourselves to a digital device.

What was interesting was that the entire experience is about the user. As mentioned by Matt Adams: “as you reveal yourself to Karen, she reveals herself to you, in ways that veer farther and farther from a legitimate life-coach experience.” According to the user’s choices and what the information the user chooses to share, the app would begin to make inferences and morph to fit the user. Through these, it is easy to see the link in reality where many people are so easily baring themselves to a digital device , even if the receiving end is another human, (or not?) It is hard to distinguish in the digital world where you can never be too sure if information are really genuine or just feeding off what information you share with them. This particular work also reminded me greatly of my own project in year 2 where I similarly, made a point-of-view interactive film which narrative also changes based on your choices.

“2097: We Made Ourselves Over” takes you on a journey to the cusp of the next century. Audiences are invited into a world where consciousness is transferred from the dead to the living and where teenagers girls are the rulers. It was a project that had short films being played along the streets in Hull and Aarhus, 300 phone calls ringing city wide at the same time where triggered for some real-life actors from the films appearing in certain areas, and the installation pieces itself. It was indeed a very grand, large-scale and enticing yet unfinished work. It also engaged almost all aspects such as individual, social, environment and political.

During the Q&A, audiences asked about how they always got away or dealt with all the sensitive topics that most of their projects venture into. Matt Adams replied by stating that these are very serious and prevalent issues they face a lot while doing their various projects hence, they were always debating on how the concept should be presented and were alawys very very extra careful when dealing with this issues.

Overall, Matt Adams and his group are really inspiring because their works are unconventional and always exploring the boundaries of everything. I really enjoyed the talk.

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