Limited Set: Generative Intersections of Theater and Artificial Life

Summer 2010: v.06 n.01: 2010 CAA Conference Edition, 2010

Adam Trowbridge
Adjunct Professor
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Photo + New Media, Department of Art, 615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403

The theater exercise “balancing the space” begins with a simple concept:

Imagining that the rectangular, performance space is balanced on a single, central fulcrum, orient yourself in relation to the other person so that the space remains balanced.

Before it is carried out or included in a set, this statement exists as an instruction, something to be carried out but not necessarily in any particular medium or by any particular person. It could be a Fluxus event score, an exercise for theater students, a computer simulation or an experiment in robotic orientation. In any of these forms, it would serve as a simple instruction that could result in complex, unpredictable behavior.

The panel was conceived and proposed to provoke future collaborations and discussions at the intersection of performance based in the human body and generative art as they both relate to basic instruction sets or “event scores, ” a term used for post-Cagean open compositions, as detailed by Liz Kotz in Words to Be Looked At.[1] It included invited panelists who were in some way working between performance, genetic algorithms and new media art. Janell Baxter presented a background on the field of generative and algorithmic art, discussed tools for moving code into the physical realm and shared a student project based in electronic-enabled, cooperative performance. Fabian Winkler and Carol Cunningham-Sigman presented “Dolly”, their collaborative work with Rebecca Bryant. The work explores issues of cloning and doppelgängers through interactive performance. Finally, Sharon Göpfert shared exercises from her “Movement for the Stage III” class via video presented by Olivia Ciummo.


Generative Art and Pragmatic Physical Computing
by Janell Baxter

Movement and the Machine – Intersections Between Live Dance Performance and Structured Sets of Rules
by Fabian Winkler, Carol Cunningham-Sigman, & Rebecca Bryant


1. Kotz, Liz. Words to Be Looked At (Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2007).