Conceptualizing the Aurora: An Exploration of Performative Understanding through Interactive Art




Aurora, Performativity, Performance, Interactivity, Interpretation, Transmediation


Aurora – Connecting Senses is a multimodal, interactive art installation which explores the ideas of the Northern Lights through sound, light, colour, and interaction. The installation creates a space where the colours, magic, and mystique of the aurora are brought down to earth and into people’s everyday lives. It is inspired by popular and scientific representations of the real aurora and invites audiences to create yet another interpretation of the natural wonder. In doing so, audiences are also invited to reflect upon the nature of the aurora and on the act of interpretation and exploration. In this article, we provide a thorough description of the ideas and development of the installation, along with photo and video documentation, and offer a critical discussion of the installation as a performative art piece with certain affordances for interaction, performativity, and active reflection. Our discussion is grounded in our observations of audiences engaging with the installation, aspiring to relate the theoretically available affordances for interaction with the differences in observed audience behaviour. The theme and reflective potential of the installation is further compared to other contemporary art pieces dealing with conceptualizations of nature or natural phenomena. By doing this, we aim to use the aurora installation as a stepping stone for addressing the potential of interactive art to highlight or even construct certain understandings of a natural ‘reality’ and for engaging audiences in a further negotiation of these understandings.

Author Biographies

Signe Kjaer Jensen, Linnaeus University

Signe Kjaer Jensen is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies at Linnaeus University in Sweden. She holds a master in musicology and a bachelor in musicology and aesthetic communication, both from Aarhus University in Denmark. Her research interests centre on music and sound as parts of intermedial and multimodal media constellations, and in her ongoing PhD project, she focuses on music in children's animated features, exploring the musical potential for meaning through a qualitative audience reception study.

Cristina Pop-Tiron, Babeș Bolyai University, Romania

Cristina Pop-Tiron is a PhD candidate in Theatre and Performing Arts and teaches as a Lector Specialist at the Department of Cinema, Film and Media of Babeș-Bolyai University, in Romania.

She has a background in Fine Arts and her research is both practical and theoretical. She's interested in intermediality in arts and technology, especially the interaction of the spectatorship with interactive digital performing arts. In practical artistic research, she produces interactive digital installations to explore the boundaries of performance spaces and investigate how the audience can become part of artistic creative processes.


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How to Cite

Jensen, Signe Kjaer, and Cristina Pop-Tiron. 2020. “Conceptualizing the Aurora: An Exploration of Performative Understanding through Interactive Art”. Nordlit, no. 46 (December):31–51.