The purpose of the Centre is to promote research into the broad field of performance, understanding this term to cover a manifold of practices that rest on the interaction between human and humanlike agents and modes of practice within the performing arts.
The Centre will encourage multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research and seek to create strategic alliances between academic, practitioner and industry stakeholders in the areas of creative organisations, art practices and new media theory and practice.
For its inaugural year, the Centre will undertake the following projects:
Working as a Sign
Publication of the Survey of actors' employment and attitudes to the craft of acting in New Zealand. This data will be analysed from a comparative and historical perspective that sets New Zealand performance arts in an international framework.
The primary objective here will be to prepare bids for external funding and to develop a full length study for publication. A detailed history of the performing arts in New Zealand will be set in terms of New Zealand society as "fundamentally" performative.
VITA (Virtual Instructor and Training Agent)
There is an extensive literature on the strengths and weaknesses of virtual avatar and agents which needs to be reviewed. Also there is a large area of practical or technical skills that need to be assessed and selectively drawn upon. In digital media there is an on-going debate for example about the use of Motion capture to generate convincing characters - Lord of the Rings being only one example of this emerging technology and the problems of realism it poses.
Purpose: to develop a digital Avatar as a research tool that can be used for training presentation skills in a corporate environment. The Research Tool should have commercial viability in the lucrative market of media trainers and interesting spin-offs in areas of avatar and agent research and 3D motion capture application.
Apart from the practical pay-off in developing a tool for training, VITA will be provide a context for addressing a range of research questions:
- How can a learner's performance could be captured and replayed in various layered stages to the learner so that the learner could objectively analyse elements of their performance.
- How can the recording of a multilayered performance be manipulated in a meaningful way to enhance the learner's perception of their practice.
- Is a "culture free" avatar possible or desirable?
- What are the advantages and limitations of placing recorded performances in a variety of virtual contexts.
- How can theories of performance ( dramaturgy) be used to test out the construction of convincing "real time" presence in a context of computer mediated communication.
- How can an avatar or agent be scaled to meet the different educational needs and skill sets of specific audiences or "clients".