::: Hello Hi There

Hello Hi There uses the famous television debate between the philosopher Michel Foucault and linguist/activist Noam Chomsky from the Seventies as inspiration and material for a dialogue between two custom-designed chatbots: every evening, these computer programs, designed to mimic human conversations, perform a new – as it were, improvised – live text.

As Chomsky and Foucault debate language, creativity, the roots of scientific discovery and the nature of political power, the chatbots talk on and on, endlessly circling the questions of the debate, and frequently veering off into unexpected, at times nonsensical, digressions. Purposely low-tech, the chatbots remind us of the optimism of the late 60s/early 70s, when natural language programming was thought to soon crack the code of human language production. This optimism in the face of repeated failure echoes the dynamic in the politics of Chomsky and Foucault -- reflecting a similarly fading optimism in the possibility of people to remake our world. 

 

From the Szene Salzburg program:

Can you call it a play when two Macbooks are the actors? This unusual performance by NY-based director Annie Dorsen illustrates the extent to which a human can be replaced by a computer. The machines debate human nature and the various facets of human intelligence in a conversation based on the famous discussion from the 1970s between Micheal Foucault and Noam Chomksy. Dorsen uses this material, along with additional text culled from YouTube, the Bible, Shakespeare, the big hits of western philosophy and other sources, to construct computer programs which create a new, "improvised," dialogue. What does humanism, and the belief in human virtuosity, mean when machines and artificial intelligence are able to so easily outdo us? Can something worthwhile come out of the reflections of two computers? Hello Hi There is an intelligent, sometimes scary, creative and humorous dialogue about humanity in the age of its digital reproduction. Theatre becomes a digital art.

::: CREDITS

Concept and Direction: Annie Dorsen  
Production design: Kate Howard
Systems design: Jeff Gray
Scenography and Lighting design:  Edward Pierce
Chatbot software design:  Robby Garner
Consultation:  Nicolas Siepen and Berno Odo Polzer
Assistance: Stephen Brackett
Technical Management: Cyd Cahill
General Management: Lisa Schmidt


Management: Alexandra Rosenberg

 

Co-producers: steirischer herbst (Graz), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), Black Box Teater (Oslo), PS122 (NYC)

::: screenings / performances

Théâtre La Villette, Paris: November 18-19, 2013

Augusti TantsuFestival, Tallinn: August 28, 2013

Bitforms Gallery, NYC: May 30-June 20, 2013

SIANA Festival, Évry: April 10, 2013

Théâtre le Granit, Belfort: March 28-29, 2013

Bard Live Arts, NY : November 27, 2012, 2012

4+4 Days in Motion Festival, Prague: October 31, 2012

Assoc. for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Toronto: July 25, 2012

EMPAC, Troy, NY: February 18, 2012

Noorderzon Festival, Groningen: August 22-24, 2011

Sommerszene, Salzburg: July 10-11, 2011

Phaenomenale Festival, Wolfsburg: February 26, 2011

PS122 COIL Festival, New York: January 6-22, 2011

Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin: November 18 & 19, 2010

BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen: November 11-13, 2010

Oslo Black Box, Oslo: November 4-6, 2010

Steirischer Herbst, Graz: September 24-26 2010