Thursday, December 16, 2010

Approaching the Beginning of Approaching Eve

The other night I met with two of my collaborators for this new project and it sent my mind reeling in all sorts of directions.  This is the beautiful thing about beginnings.  Sure, I have ideas and some assumptions, but mostly, the play and performance as I know it is still just a glimmer in my eye.  Even more exciting than that is the prospect of other smaller and/or bigger projects related to this new one.

So now I'm looking at the overall idea and synopsis and I think, well, how well this change?  What can change?  How can I make this more interesting and exciting?  How can the story be further developed?

Questions, questions, questions.  It all begins with questions.

What's also fascinating is the similarities and differences of creating a performance and the process of creating a robot.  We're both solving problems and dealing with bodies in space, among other things.

And for greater context (and in effort to be more concise and hopefully to help me get better in talking about my latest project) here’s a rough synopsis:

In 1994, Dr. Ichiro Kato begins a final project to create the perfect woman, named “Hadaly”.  Already a successful roboticist at Waseda University, he pioneered the first bipedal robots (precursor to Honda’s walking robot ASIMO) as well as robots that could play piano.  Yet Kato’s ultimate vision before he dies is to create a robot that could fully cohabitate with humans.  When Cynthia Matthews, a grad student from M.I.T., enters into his laboratory, she questions him about his projects for her own research on creating a social robot that could learn from people, much like a toddler.  As a young scientist, she struggles with the ethics of her work, her research trip masking her real journey through her own doubts and fears about creating an anthropomorphic machine.  Following Cynthia to Toyko is an American in a dark suit, a man who won’t give his name but his intentions are clear—to recruit Cynthia to work for DARPA (the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Defense).  Technologies like facial recognition and advanced social skills could be used in combat humanoid robots and save human lives.  But Cynthia struggles with the question of how far should we go in creating a robot that behaves and appears human?  As ideological differences clash, the audience is taken on a journey of exploring an obsession as old as humanity.  As Cynthia tries to uncover the secrets of Kato’s final project, she encounters a world where Descartes’ wooden android daughter intersects with master karakuri engineer Hosokawa, and Thomas Edison collides with Pygmalion in a quest to create the perfect woman.

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