Machine Society Interfaces (2015-2016)

Governments and performers share a desire to trace the paths of individuals as they move through groups and society. Government motivations can cover a spectrum of reasons—beneficial, benign and belligerent—for tracing individual paths. An institution that is able to locate a lost Alzheimer’s patient, for example, is also able to follow dissidents and detractors.

When performers are tracked during their performances on stage, it can positively influence the overall performance (music, lights, video, objects) in ways currently impossible. By enabling interactive and evolutionary performances, there is the added benefit of a real-time digital archive.

The Machine Society Interfaces team implemented the SLIPPAGE Lab with core technology to investigate the state of the art in live multiperson tracking to create performances and educational opportunities and explore new research directions. The lab was used in Spring 2016 for Dance 308/ECE 364/ISIS 376/THEATRST 364: Performance and Technology, and for team-led workshops in Fall 2015 and Summer 2016.

The Machine Society Interfaces team developed a tracking algorithm that uses one camera to track the position of a person on the stage. During Summer 2016, a visiting Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student from India and a master’s student continued to work on the tracking algorithm and integrated it into the repertoire for the Performance and Technology course.

Team members also split into five smaller groups to build elements of performance for this year’s theme of clouds. Each group created a motion activated device that embodies clouds in some way—from a device that produces clouds using dry ice to a machine that looks like a cloud running away. In addition to the “cloud machines,” team leaders Martin Brooke and Thomas F. DeFrantz performed at Moogfest, an annual conference that brings together artists, inventors, creators, designers, engineers and musicians.


Fall 2015 – Summer 2016

Team Outcomes

Intermission Objects, April 8, 2016 (performance at ChoreoLab created and shared by Saeed Alrahma, Gilbert Brooks, Dan Celebucki, Monica Choe, Claudia Dantoin, Morgan Gautho, Ethan Gottlieb, Victoria Gray, Michael Han, In-Young Jo, Eric Lam, Melissa Lee, Jesse Ling, James Min, Esaac Mohammed, Aulo Morini, Caitlin Morris, Tyler Nelson, Kent Peaslee, Steven Pierre, Zach Sachee, Malia Stephens, Craig Vincent)

Performance and Technology (poster)

Live Processing and Ghost Dancing, May 19, 2016 (performance at Moogfest)


Machine Society Interfaces at Duke University

Duke Performance and Technology Class 2016 (long and short versions)

Ghost Dancing Moogfest 2016 Full Performance

SLIPPAGE Presents Ghost Dancing Moogfest 2016 Experimental Film

This Team in the News

Bass Connections Team Brings Cutting-edge Technology to Live Performances

Moogfest Brings Future of Sound and Technology to Durham

Machine Society Interfaces

An Exploration in Ethics with Thomas DeFrantz

Faculty Perspectives: Martin Brooke

Creating Artists Who Understand Technology, and Engineers Who Understand Art

See related teams, Live Processing and Live Art: Performance and Technology (2014-2015) and Performance in the Community (2016-2017).

Team Leaders

  • Martin Brooke, Pratt School of Engineering-Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Thomas F. DeFrantz, Arts & Sciences-African and African American Studies
  • Guillermo Sapiro, Pratt School of Engineering-Electrical & Computer Engineering

/graduate Team Members

  • Craig Vincent, Electrical/Computer Engg-MS
  • Elizabeth Striegl, MFA/Experimental and Doc Arts

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Melissa Lee, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Malia Stephens, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Zachariah Sachee, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Steven Pierre, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BS2)
  • Kent Peaslee, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Tyler Nelson, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Economics (BS2)
  • Caitlin Morris, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Aulo Morini, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Esaac Mohammed, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Jesse Ling, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Saeed Alrahma, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Eric I-chong Lam, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • In-Young Jo, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Economics (BS2)
  • Myung Jin (Michael) Han, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Victoria Gray, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Ethan Gottlieb, Computer Science (BS)
  • Morgan Gautho, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Claudia Dantoin, Chemistry (AB), French Studies (AB2)
  • Monica Choe, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Daniel Celebucki, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Gilbert Brooks, African/African Am St (AB)