Design Dramaturgy

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  • Title: Design Dramaturgy: A Case Study in New Media, Humor and Artificial Intelligence
  • Author(s): Michael M. Meany
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review
  • Keywords: Dramaturgy, Theater Design, New Media Design, Artificial Intelligence, Humor
  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2013
  • ISSN: 1833-1874 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5736 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1833-1874/CGP/v06/38312
  • Citation: Meany, Michael M., and Tom Clark. 2013. "Design Dramaturgy: A Case Study in New Media, Humor and Artificial Intelligence." Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review 6 (1): 59-71. doi:10.18848/1833-1874/CGP/v06/38312.
  • Extent: 13 pages

Abstract

Theater has provided a metaphoric lexicon to describe production in the new media environment (Laurel 1993). We call the production space a “stage,” the programmatic commands are a “script,” and we write “actions” to control our “cast” of symbols. These terms are usually employed as nouns, as useful descriptive shorthand. However, to employ them as verbs, “to stage,” “to script,” “to act” and “to cast,” suggests that the new media designer will engage with the theatrical techniques of making. The word dramaturgy “is made up of the root for ‘action or doing’ (drame) and the suffix for ‘process or working’ (-urgy)” (Cardullo 1995, p. 3). The dramaturg is responsible not only for the mise-en-scène (the overall visual and aesthetic design) but also the mise-en-place (the preparation, organisation and structured deployment of tools and ingredients). This paper explores design dramaturgy through a case study of a creative PhD project that employs chatbots (artificial intelligence agents) to play the roles of “comedian” and “straight-man” (Page 2005). The dramaturg requires an intimate knowledge of the new media “theater”—particularly the codes and languages, interface designs, servers and data transfers, and artificial intelligence engines—in other words, the entire form and format of the production. As a tool for examining habitual responses, dramaturgy offers a technique for the designer to acquire new perspectives on the process and practice of making (reflection in action: Schön 1983, p. 55).