Interactive Art as a Method of Preserving and Exhibiting Physical Artworks

Raivo Kelomees

This paper provides two examples of interactive emulations of analogue artworks by the Estonian artist Raul Meel. These meta-artworks allow for preserving the artworks and providing access for the audience.

1. Introduction

How to open up physical artworks for audience with interactive emulations? How to document and preserve the unique experience of the artist?
Why? Because artworks are musealized, e.g. closed, being initially made for manipulation.

My object of interest is Estonian artist Raul Meel and two of his works: “Under the Sky” (beginning of 1970s) and “The Dice” (1994, original idea 1969).
Raul Meel (born in 1941) is a self-taught print, installation, painting and performance artist and concrete poet. Raul Meel represents the radical wing of the 1960s-1980s innovation in Estonian art and is known as the most renowned Estonian autodidact and outsider.
Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, the work of Raul Meel has expanded into a giant universe comprised of many historical influences and artistic backgrounds.

I will focus on an interactive emulation of Raul Meel’s “Under the Sky” which was created for his biggest retrospective exhibition “Dialogues with Infinity” in Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, 9 May – 12 October 2014.
My second object of interest is mobile app “seeESE” based on Meel’s installation “The Dice” (1994) on same exhibition, which had its predecessor in 1969. The goal of both digital emulations was to “revive” the artworks, to “open” them to the audience, to add interactivity to dices as they are not allowed to be touched in the museum. With emulator of “Under the Sky” visitor can experience how prints were designed based on formulas, developed before by an artist.

2. “Under the Sky”

It is fascinating from the point of view of the undersigned that Raul Meel’s series “Under the Sky” was preceded and accompanied by “theoretical” and “dry” manipulations with formulas, which described the placement of two serigraph nets in relation to each other. Meel wrote the picture formulas down in three versions (minus, standard and plus) in three adjacent columns, getting a total of 5328 formulas. Standard means 1776 combinations, multiplied by three it will be 5328. These columns fitted on 20 pages, which the artist himself considers avant-garde drawings.
This fact was the basis of instructions given to a programmer for designing an interactive panel which allows audience to design their own compositions. The main rule was that two serigraphs were printed onto each other.
The first image be printed is blue C, turned inside out, then black image D on top of it, turned clockwise by 90 degrees. The result through the formula DM90/CS-180 resembles an egg or a diving fish.
The audience had a similar opportunity to superimpose different images and print them out using interactive “mechanism” on the wall which was connected to printer.

3. “The Dice”

For another project, “The Dice”, Estonian leading mobile operator EMT (Telia) was approached and their programmer designed the mobile app “seeESE” (for iOS and Android) [1]. The title means literally “thisTHING”. The goal of the app was to allow manipulation with concrete poetry dices. Shaking the phone each time you get a different configuration of concrete poetry.

4. Conclusion

New digital emulators allow the audience to experiment with artists original ideas, to create their own compositions and to approach artworks as they were initially made for open participation.

5. References

[1] iOS:; Android: