"Avatar Body Collision: Enactments in Distributed Performance Practices", by Karla Ptacek - an account & analysis of our working processes and outcomes with specific reference to to Screen Save Her - has recently been published in Digital Creativity; an abstract is available online.
With Screen Save Her, I wanted to see if we could construct a playmaking system composed of animate and inanimate actants. Imagine: a performative circuit capable of adapting and mutating in run-time. If nothing else, I knew the machinic elements would generate new versions of the play each time it was performed, and possibly deconstruct any attempt at linear story-telling. The grand plan was a cyberplay that would function like a cyborgian organism within a complex adaptive system. The actual narrative content of the play was always secondary to the structure of the vehicle, and secondary to the how of human and non-human interaction.
Because of these ambitions, Screen Save Her had to have some easy-to-read narrative signposts. The story revolved around action heroines in an escape and rescue plot, situated within a cartoon/comic book aesthetic and scenography. The plot centered on a gene-stealing operation and was structured as game: the proximal stage character, "BP" - a software/wetware cyborg for a multinational corporation - has 30 minutes to complete a series of tasks in order to win a DNA makeover. Her progress is monitored and manipulated by three webcam women, while in the Palace chat room, a trio of hapless avatars conspire to escape from their cyberspace prison
This was the first show for the newly-formed Colliders, and some of the discoveries we made here have become part of our performance toolkit. For example, previously we'd used webcams solely to cue performers, but in Screen Save Her I used webcams as a third performative stage across and within which we performed. The webcams almost doubled the data streams and tripled the occurences of electronic failure (lag, buffering, delay). However, they gave us enormous scope to create visual gags, tricks & illusions, and little acts of magic.
Screen Save Her was performed at 12-12 Time-based Media Festival, Cardiff, Wales, 18 May 2002 for a proximal theatre audience. This performance was simultaneously remixed and webcast live. The second performance was at Riverside Studios, London, 21 May 2002.