Worlding Writing, Bad News

02/21/2019 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Franke Institute for the Humanities

More information to come.Bad News is an award-winning installation work that combines Wizard of Oz techniques and live improvisational acting into an emotionally charged one-on-one experience whose story and setting is uniquely generated, for each performance, by a computer simulation. In the summer of 1979, a resident in a computer-generated American small town has died alone at home, and a mortician's assistant—the player—is tasked with tracking down and notifying the next of kin. To do this, the player navigates the richly simulated town to interact with its residents, who are each played live by a professional actor. Throughout gameplay, an unseen wizard listens in remotely to manage the unfolding experience via live coding and discreet communication with the actor. Writing about the piece for Rolling Stone, Steven T. Wright remarked, "This marvel of procedural performance can only be played by a lucky few, and that's a crying shame." Through its peculiar bricolage of human and machine performance, Bad News meditates on the trauma of losing a life and, ultimately, a world.

In this special public performance, attendees will listen in on a live playthrough (in the style of a radio play) and receive a behind-the-scenes, commentated look at the AI technology and Wizard of Oz techniques that underpin the experience. Attendees will also be encouraged to ask questions and call out story ideas that can be communicated to the actor, who may integrate them into the experience as it is unfolding. A Q&A session will follow the performance.

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