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Scenario is an interactive video work based on transactions between users and autonomous digital characters featuring artificial intelligence. Over the course of three acts, users explore an immersive, responsive landscape and carry out tasks together to complete the narrative sequence. Over the course of the work, participants enter lunar-like and urban landscapes, obtain projected avatars, and search for the missing body parts of a giant humanoid that must be reconstructed. The project investigates the aesthetic and narrative consequences of the concept of shared agency, in which digital and human agents work together and react to one another to form an interactive product.
Utilising groundbreaking technologies developed at the iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research, Scenario is installed in an Advanced Visualisation and Interaction Environment (AVIE) as an interactive media artwork. The work, accessible within the AVIE’s 360-degree projected immersive environment, operates using sensors to track the movements of up to five users. This information is interpreted symbolically, and enables digital characters to respond via a system of scripted “beliefs” and “desires.” The planning system forms a theory of action based on situation calculus. It uses a suitably extended cognitive robotics programming language, based on the Golog family of languages, to deal with the particular environment imposed by Scenario. This language endows each digital character with beliefs about the world in which it finds itself, allowing them to reason about the proper course of action to take in response to the occurrence of external events. In addition to interacting with artificial entities and a responsive visual projection, the piece is enhanced by ambisonic sound and hologram-like visuals that provide a semi-synaesthetic experience of elements like rain.
The major accomplishment of this work is the marrying of artificial intelligence research and cinematic visualisation to produce a system that enables digital characters to co-create, prompting us to question the implications of AI’s use of narrative agency. Scenario arrived as one of the first projects to implement iCinema’s AVIE, a platform that has since continuously served as the site of revolutionary developments in museological presentation, educational display and engagement, occupational health and safety training, and research into kinaesthetic involvement with information and space in general. As such, Scenario’s significance lies not only in the transformation of artistic cinematic experience, but also in the demonstration of the broad, interdisciplinary applications artistic research.
Scenario was shown at the University of New South Wales as part of the Sydney Film Festival, and at the NIEA Experimental Arts Double Conference, 2011.
This project was developed in collaboration with institutional partners including the University of New South Wales, City University of Hong Kong, the University of Nottingham, and the Rensselear Polytechnic Institute.
Scenario was supported by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (DP0556659)