"The human spirit must prevail over technology."
Composer, Sound Designer
Artificial Intelligence is on the tip of everyone's tongue. Between the internet and increasing networked devices (one of which, Drumhenge, I created) algorithms are influencing our daily lives more and more. Is this something to fear? How should we think about these tremendous leaps? What do we need to do to keep our humanity in the face these rapid changes? These are the questions at the heart of Frankenstein AI, an immersive installation developed at the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival as part of the New Frontier.
The majority of algorithms use military intelligence or transaction data as their foundation, but this installation created an actual algorithm filled with participants memories, hopes, and fears and used it to create a generative work of immersive theatre. The piece above outlines the experience.
From a technical standpoint, it meant that the creative team had to collaborate with an algorithm that was essentially running the show. Once a performance started, we would not be able to control what it did. The challenge was two fold: How do I bring to life the sounds, sonic textures, and voice of an AI? And how do I create a score that allows for it to have some control over the experience without making it a terrible experience for the participants? Some sections were pre-defined, others more open ended. Below are some samples.