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Performance art comes of age

Many of these applications are quite far from what scientists may have had in mind when they were developing say, computers with artificial intelligence for a space programme, or skin grafts to treat burns victims.

“This is a new academic field that's developed over the last few years, mainly due to developments in technology,“ said Susan Broadhurst, Reader in Drama and Technology at Brunel University, in West London.

Dr Broadhurst and Josephine Machon, lecturer in Drama and Performance Studies at St Mary's College, University of Surrey are co-editors of Performance and Technology: Practices of Virtual Embodiment and Interactivity (Palgrave Macmillan, Jan 2007).

Leading practitioners and academics in the emerging area of performance and art installation have contributed to the collection. The chapters include areas as diverse as the interrelations between dancing body and technology, sound interaction, artificially intelligent behaviour, prosthetic body parts, and tissue engineering.

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, directors of the Tissue Culture and Art Project at the University of Western Australia, in Perth, describe their work in bio-art. The pair create grow sculptures made of human and animal tissue, which literally grow into a design concept created for them.

Steve Dixon of Brunel University writes about his work in telematic performance, that is, where actors perform together at different locations, in a virtual space. Johannes Birringer, also of Brunel, writes about performing virtual spaces, that of the Multiplayer Online game.

Carol Brown of Roehampton University and Sarah Rubidge of Chichester University College have each written a chapter about working as choreographers with technology, and the New-York based dance and digital media company, Troika Ranch, who also write their own software, describe their work.

Petra Kuppers from the University of Michigan contributes a chapter about disability and performance. Susan Broadhurst's account of a visually stunning drama starring the artificially intelligent, interactive Jeremiah, who was especially created for the piece, and physical performer Elodie Berland is illustrated by the book's cover picture.

“By surveying various aspects of performance nd technology, we hope to create a forum of debate that will explore key issues of our practices,“ added Susan Broadhurst.