Computer Assisted Marionette for Out of the Body Theater

Out of the Body Theater is a network of electronic and organic devices that, through their inter-connections, inform and respond to one another. A performance space is prepared with digital trackers, processors, and computer controlled lighting. I use the term Environmental Tracking to refer to the mechanical recording of the physical movements of performers. The collection of data and the subsequest arrangement of a digitally-oriented language, forms unlikely relationships between computers and people, people and automata, automata and visual projections, which are all transmitted in the form of light, back to the computer.

Constructing The Marionette

The physical construction is that of a traditional marionette with technological additions to the fundamental design. Her gross motor functions are controlled by wires extending from the critical joints of her body. In addition, much of her upper body is controlled by onboard motors, gears, and radio transmitters. The combination of these two techniques allows for both the freedom of broad movements and the execution of smaller, more refined gestures. The outcome is a computer contolled marrionette who is informed by real body gestures which maintains a more intuitive feeling of human motion found in traditional marionettes.

Performing The Marionette

"Narrator: The room surrounded her, contacted her. Like bellows contracting and expanding; she folded in, she folded out, she had become connected to everything. She died of having her intestines wound out of her body and she had become nothing."

Excerpt From: Feu De Helene
c. Jennifer Hall, 1992

Original Body Tracking Software Scheme: Marc Locassio
Phase One Marionette and Hardware Interface: Matt McMaken
Phase One Software Interface Design: Neil Leonard
Phase Two Marionette Interface: Sara Alfaro-Franco
Body Tracking Gestures: John Hall Jr. and Meg Young
Video: Greg Stevens