0009 Attention and Distraction: On the Aesthetic Experience of Video Installation Art

  • Anne Ring Petersen (Author)
    Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen

    Anne Ring Petersen is Associate Professor at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. She currently researches cross-cultural issues in contemporary art and culture, in particular the transformative impact of migration on the visual arts and cultural identity. She was the leader of the interdisciplinary research network, "Network for Migration and Culture" 2010 through 2014, and she has published widely on modern and contemporary art in books and journals such as Third Text, RIHA Journal and Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture. Recent publications include the co-edited anthology The Culture of Migration: Politics, Aesthetics and Histories (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015) and a monograph on installation art, Installation Art between Image and Stage (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2015).

Identifiers (Article)


This article aims to examine the interrelationship between attention and distraction in the reception of video installation art, a genre which is commonly associated with "immersion" and an intensified feeling of presence in the discourses on new media art and installation art. This tends to veil the fact that the behaviour of many visitors is characterised by a certain restlessness and distraction. The article suggests that, in contradistinction to traditional disciplines of art like painting and sculpture, video installations seem to stimulate a "reception in distraction" (Walter Benjamin) that is at odds with the ideal of a reception in concentration that governs the institutions of fine art as well as aesthetic theory. It intends to demonstrate how the experience of video installation art can only be understood by recognising that the close connections between, on the one hand, video art and, on the other hand, the cultural formations of television, film and computers have fundamentally re-configured "aesthetic experience."


video installation art, distraction, reception, context-awareness, digital media, ubiquitous computing, Video-Installation, Ästhetische Wahrnehmung