Human Trials

Josephine Anstey
user & actors in front of screens
user & two actors Video Documentation
Performances at Hallwalls (aug 06) & WVU (sept06)
hi res (160MB) or low res (25MB)
Rehearsals and Performances at Hallwalls (jan 06) & UB (april 06)
long/hi-res(8 mins ~800MB) medium (6mins 180MB) short (3mins 80MB)
user in reeds
Human Trials is simultaneously a public/private and embodied/disembodied performance. One user enters an immersive VR and is led on an absurd quest. The challenges appears to be about control and the choices one makes with power; but the games are rigged, the characters are duplicitous, the quest is a decoy, and the underlying test is how to cope with disempowerment. Meanwhile the experience is screened for a voyeuristic audience primed by reality TV. The audience members simultaneously watch multiple viewpoints of the virtual world, while live performers, networked into the VE, attempt to entangle  the protagonist in their improvisational machinations.
user and filopat
The performers play two characters, Patofil and Filopat, who engage the participant in a set of overt challenges involving computer-controlled characters and dynamic virtual sets. Beyond these obvious tasks, the participant must also interpret and negotiate a subtext about world views, relationships and alliances. The participant's reactions are logged, interpreted psychologically, and affect the characters' behavior, the presentation of further challenges, and the ending. Although we expect the story to follow a basic arc based on a storyboard, our script/improvisation notes for the actors are evolving during performances. 
user and filopat "Human Trials" was conceived as a pseudo-psychological assessment that determines whether the participant is stuck in a sadistic & narcissistic position (believing that they are the only thing that exists), or a submissive & passive position (not wanting to exist).The participant's responses to different scenarios is used to judge: is she aggressive, bullying, kowtowing, laid back, idealistic, cynical, eager, reluctant to engage? The narrative and visual surface of "Human Trials" connotes video games and fairy tales and is designed to give the participant a sense of security and familiarity, even a sense that this world is simplistic. At the beginning of the experience this is benign - we want the participant to acclimatize rapidly, to feel at home, and perhaps slightly superior to the immersive, networked, virtual space. Then the absurdity of the tasks undercuts the familiar. Increasingly the characters harry and bully the participant - how does the participant cope with socially pressured situations?
Human Trials is designed for CAVE or CAVE-like, tracked, immersive VR systems. 3-D stereo displays with one large screen or multiple screens and/or HMDs.  Ideally the participant and two human actors each enter the virtual environment from their own VR system.  In effect the actors are manipulating life-size puppets since their tracking systems animate the avatars of Filopat and Patofil that the participant sees. A fall-back position is to have the actors operate their puppets from monitors without tracking systems, in this case they can still navigate their puppet wherever they need in the virtual environment.
monitors and big sreen
Human Trials builds on Josephine Anstey and Dave Pape's previous experience building dramatic VR, The Thing Growing, and  Networked VR projects, and Sarah Bay-Cheng's experience with drama and puppetry. Human Trials is a sister project to The Trail The Trial,  experimental research focused on building intelligent agents to  take the place of the human actors.

More Info: Documentation of Resolutions 2006 Performance


Human Trials Premier of Entire Drama
Buffalo Infringement Festival
Hallwalls (341 Delaware Avenue)
Thursday, August 3rd, 8-9 pm;
Friday, August 4th, 8-9 pm;
Saturday, August 5th, 4-5 pm and 6-7 pm;
Sunday, August 6th, 6-7 pm
Human Trials
Bios: epoetry symposium
West Virginia University
September, 2006
Human Trials Acts 1 & 2
Resolutions 2006 festival,
Hallwalls,  Buffalo,
January 2006.
Human Trials Acts 1 - 4
E-Poetry Symposium
Center for the Arts, UB
April  2006

Script/improvisation notes

Josephine Anstey, Dave Pape, Sarah Bay-Cheng, Stuart C. Shapiro

Virtual Scene Builders
Adam Bochenek, Paul Visco, Anton Hand, Orkan Telhan, Chris Galbraith, Sara Nohejl, Amit Makwana
Intelligent Agents Researchers
Stuart C. Shapiro, Mike Kandefer, Albert Goldfain
(see  The Trail The Trial for more on our Intelligent Agents work)
Ygdrasil, Performer, CAVElib
, Maya, Sneps

updated May 06