The­atres of/as Art and Ar­ti­fi­cial Life


Session Title:

  • VIDA: New Discourses, Tropes and Modes in Art and Artificial Life Research

Presentation Title:

  • The­atres of/as Art and Ar­ti­fi­cial Life




  • 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.