THROUGH THE CRACKS: Bringing Artificial Intelligence To The Live Stage

By Zoe Street
“Why are we making robots and AI’s as human as possible? Why do we even need AI?”
Sara Strachan and Robert Hogarth are a creative couple hailing from South Australia as another set of our fabulous Setting the Stages artists. In their work S.A.R.A 2000 they are exploring society’s relationship with technology by creating a live artificial intelligence for the stage. In a world of growing technological dependence, the ongoing exploration of our relationship with technology is not uncommon. A recent surge of film and television like Her, Ex Machina and Humans delve into the possibilities of what could happen if our relationship with technology becomes more and more heavily intertwined and we continue to blur the lines of what is human and what is machine. However, unlike the films and television shows based around this concept, S.A.R.A 2000 will throw audiences into a live interactive and immersive experience that will have you reconsidering and reflecting on the use of AI’s in our society.
For Robert and Sara, this project is about trying something that challenges them as artists. For Sara, this is her yearly risk project: “Every year I like to take on a project that scares me and takes me into the unknown. In 2016 that project is S.A.R.A 2000.” For Robert, a digital media artist and self proclaimed geek, the challenge of this work lies around the technical aspect of creating an AI for the stage: “For me a big part of working on the show has been trying to figure out the technical aspects, and how we can get it to work!  But also trying to figure out what has been done before and what we can bring to the table.”
Robert shared with us that one of the challenges with exploring Artificial Intelligence is that, “It isn’t a new concept. But by creating a show which involves audience participation, we’re hoping to add a layer of interactivity that you don’t get with movies, books and other static media. In this case both the actors and audience can explore the concept together in a way that is creative, humorous, engaging, and maybe a little challenging!”
What makes this work stand apart is not the content, but the live nature of what is being created: S.A.R.A 2000 explores the implications of an AI that exists and interacts with audiences on a live stage. Robert talks about his inspiration for this work being driven by the work he likes to see, “I love going to see shows that incorporate technology in interesting ways so was hoping Sara and I could try our hand at working on something a bit different”. This is definitely something different. Even the thought of experiencing a live AI puts me on edge because it blurs the lines of what is human and what is technology right in front of me. I’m tentatively looking forward to experiencing S.A.R.A 2000. How real is she going to get?

What Robert and Sara are all about: sci-fi geek, risk taker, technology, theatre
A tiny taster of what’s to come: quirky, thought-provoking, dark comedy with a technological twist

Robert Hogarth and Sara Strachan are our Setting the Stages artists from SA. See the launch of S.A.R.A 2000 on Friday 30 Sep from 7:15pm – 8:05pm and Sunday 2 Oct 5:15pm – 6:05pm at Pivot Dance Studio .