Panel: VIDA: New Discourses, Tropes and Modes in Art and Artificial Life Research
Staging artificial and hybrid lives is the stuff of the ancient human pursuit called theatre. This art form has left us a legacy of puppets, automats, effigies, corporeal and intangible agents which inhabit and compellingly bring to life un- or other-worldly spaces. Consequently, theatrical creations and metaphors provide useful frameworks for setting current art and artificial life endeavours into a broader cultural perspective, serving as sounding boards for our notions of liveliness. For Gilbert Simondon, “The living entity maintains within itself a permanent activity of individuation; it is not just the result of individuation, like the crystal or molecule, but it is the theatre of individuation.” (L’Individu et sa Genese Physico-biologique). Theatre is thus posited as a locus of constant emergence, identified with live being and with being alive. Notions of boundaries, of open and closed systems, of dynamic models and more or less autonomous, in vivo projections, are common to theatre and artificial life research. Evolving definitions of theatre which accommodate contemporary live arts and artifacts, that engage (with) living processes beyond the confines of static institutional architectures, can nurture and productively inform the ways we think about art and artificial life. My panel presentation will focus on a number of VIDA projects, reading them through the lens and terms of theatre to enrich interpretations of their manifold meanings. In this way, I hope to underline the conceptual originality of these recent experiments in art and artificial life, while indicating their genealogical connections to the more archaic cultures and practices of theatre.
- Sally Jane Norman is the Director of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts and Professor of Performance Technologies at Sussex University (UK). After obtaining an MA at the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa/New Zealand, she received a Doctorat de 3eme cycle (1980) and a Doctorat d’etat (1990) from the Institut d’etudes theÃ¢trales, Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her work on art and technology has involved collaboration with various organisations including the Performing Arts Laboratory of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unesco, and the French Ministry of Culture, and has led to numerous publications in French and English. In 1993 she directed the Louvre’s New Images and Museology conference. She has developed research projects at the International Institute of Puppetry (Charleville-Mezieres), Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (Karlsruhe), and Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (Amsterdam), where she was Artistic Co-Director from 1998-2000. As Director General of the Ecole Superieure de l’Image (Angouleme/ Poitiers), she launched a practice-based Digital Arts Ph.D program, subsequently leaving France in autumn 2004 for Newcastle University to create and direct Culture Lab, an interdisciplinary research facility. In January 2010 she went to the University of Sussex to found the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, a resource designed to nurture and catalyse the radically interdisciplinary, uniquely creative research for which Sussex is renowned, and which encompasses pioneering artificial life and artificial intelligence initiatives. Sally Jane’s work engages with collaborative interdisciplinary practice, relations between art and technology, and disruptive innovation processes. She frequently advises on research and cultural policy frameworks and regularly reviews texts and contemporary creative work for national and international academic and cultural bodies.