Digital puppertry : real-time performance in a mediatized age

數碼偶戲 : 媒介化時代的實時表演

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

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  • Zhe WANG

Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
  • Steve FORE (Supervisor)
  • Kam Wah WONG (Co-supervisor)
Award date4 Oct 2010


In this work, digital puppetry is discussed as a hybrid art form in which the performing objects are partially manipulated or wholly generated by algorithmic programs. The significant parameter here is the use of real-time technological interfaces, suggesting a synchronicity between the manipulator’s control and the performing object's resultant movement. While there is not a single ideal example of what digital puppetry, a wide range of digital forms or works (e.g., motion capture, machinima, Digital Marionette, The Sims, etc.) are analyzed in the context of improvisation and interaction through the employment of real-time technologies. In order to further examine the role it plays in this mediatized age, digital puppetry is proposed here both as a phenomenon that self-evidently is performance in the usual, aaesthetic sense of that term, and is also studied as performance in a broader sense suggested by the performance theory of Richard Schechner. Moreover, this study values Jean-François Lyotard’s performativity as a comparatively new theoretical framework in performance studies, useful to rethink the ongoing radical changes in the nature of performance in relation to technological developments. At this point, it is not my primary goal to develop a formal definition of digital puppetry, but to establish it as a significant contemporary phenomenon through a culturally and theoretically contextualized survey. Consequently, relevant cultural issues related to digital puppetry are addressed, such as play/perform, role/rule, agency/identity, and body/self complexes. By continuously expanding a database of human/computer interactive behavior, digital puppetry may create new forms of ritual for the global community. Keyword: digital puppetry, performance, real-time, body, agency

    Research areas

  • Puppet theater, Animation (Cinematography)