What is it?
This is a doctoral project that started as a master’s project and will ultimately be a professional theatre project. It’s about creating live theatre using data from the real world.
Data can shapeshift easily, startlingly, poetically. It can pass through the modern magician’s black box – a computer – and emerge as sound, image, text, sculpture, light, movement…
Data can communicate information, which speaks to the intellect, or become something artistic, which speaks to the soul. Sometimes, in the right hands, it can do both.
We live in an age of data. It is up to us to find ways to build with these ever-multiplying bricks.
Alchemy for the digital age:
Turning data into theatre
First things first: What do we mean by “data”? Data is a noun used for “pieces of information”. The term applies particularly to groups of values that will be analysed by computers. They can be numbers, images, text, or anything else that carries meaning.
The fact that computers can now process huge volumes of data enables contemporary artists to develop innovative new forms of artistic expression. Data art is an increasingly common genre, wherein works of art are created from databases or live data feeds. It has already found its way into the most prestigious art galleries, including MoMA and the Pompidou Centre.
Now, it’s time for data theatre. What happens when theatre-makers use data as a tool in storytelling and scenography? How will it fit into the landscape of contemporary theatre? How will audiences and actors respond?
The thesis project runs 2021-2023 and will involve cataloguing examples of data theatre, along with other inspiring works on the blurry fringes of the genre, such as data art installations and documentary theatre. There will also be detailed case studies of data theatre productions, documenting the creative process. Lastly, and perhaps most excitingly, there will be collaborative theatre experiments conducted with professional data designers and theatre-makers.
The goal is to develop a rich overview of the place and potential of data in theatrical creation, and to both document and promote the evolution of data theatre in the digital age.