Disembodied Performance

Peter Alexander Torpey and Elena Naomi Jessop. 2009. Disembodied performance. CHI '09 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 3685–3690. DOI:


Early in Tod Machover’s opera Death and the Powers, the main character, Simon Powers, is subsumed into a technological environment of his own creation. The theatrical set comes alive in the form of robotic, visual, and sonic elements that allow the actor to extend his range and influence across the stage in unique and dynamic ways. This environment must compellingly assume the behavior and expression of the absent Simon. In order to distill the essence of this character, we recover performance parameters in real time from physiological sensors, voice, and vision systems. These gesture and performance parameters are then mapped to a visual language that incorporates cognitive and semantic models informed by modal relationships. This language allows the off-stage actor to express emotion and interact with others on stage. Our Disembodied Performance system takes a new direction in augmented performance by employing a nonrepresentational abstraction of a human presence that fully translates a character into an environment. 

Related Content