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An Encounter with the Computational Unconscious: Questioning Automatic Drama

Riikka Pelo, MA in New Media, Cultural Usability seminar, UIAH Media Lab 24.4.2001

Note! This article is a draft, do not quote or cite. Updated version is due on May 5, 2001.


My essay approaches human-machine interaction from the point of view of drama and discourse of the unconscious by engaging in dialogue with a humanoid machine, Ken Feingold's "Head". If computers, especially the interfaces entwining the subject and the technology, are designed to reflect human condition, mimic human agency, exhibit human subjectivity, the approach of drama - of action, character, dialogue and narrative performance - becomes relevant. Emotion, conflict and ethics of the dramatic subjects, as well as the question of embodiment are central issues of a dramatic approach to interactive drama. My proposal is, however, to adapt the conflictual and embodied subject of psychoanalytic theory to the grammar of digital drama. This approach proposes the ethical subject as an alternative to the cognitive subject of digital technology and a critical consideration of the "computational unconscious". In discussing the ambivalent correspondence of technology and the psyche, I will look at the history of the word automation, the discourse of surrealism and the Freudian "stage" of the unconscious.

1. She stands face to face with a talking head. They are both blinking their eyes, preparing, what to say. He is a bald-headed man with a grin, both nasty and friendly, on his face. For her there is something remotely familiar in him. She asks him, three times, how is he and finally gets him to move his lips, forming a complicated answer in a slow machine voice. She is not certain if he understood her question, but his words surprise her deeply. He says he is offended, reasoning in poetic mode, as rhyming words of a nursery riddle.

Head [1] is an animatronic machine, a talking sculpture, made by media artist Ken Feingold. Head performs a character of a mad old man with multiplicity of personalities as a result of complex automated processes and a pneumatic mechanism. It's character is processed trough a recursive digital constellation of a computer, client-server, TCP/IP socket, speech-recognition, natural language processing systems, synthesised speech, mouth controller and a database of English words in Linux system. It is remotely related to the first pseudo artificial intelligent program Eliza, the computed psychologist agent. There is certainly a difference of a genre in the discourse of these two machines: where as Eliza is performing a part of a psychologist, Head has been (psycho)analysed as being a paranoid-schizophrenic person.

Head recognises spoken words and responds to them by enouncing ambiguous and disturbing sentences. The situation into which the interactor is drawn is not easy, not pleasant, but it is somehow miraculous, uncanny: The encounter with the talking automaton, the machine which looks and talks like a human being, becomes a scene of coincidences, misunderstandings, slips, repetitions and rhymes. It is an ambivalent play between the qualities of a human and an artefact. In the interactive performance attention is not drawn into mutual understanding, like for example when interacting with an automatic cash machine, but into mutual irrationality, mutual misunderstanding, to a signifying process, where the discourse of unconscious, discourse of impossibility, comes to the foreground.

In her article on computational unconscious Margaret Morse[2] refers to Head´s poetic outbursts as an example of computer art using the symbolic acts of computing for mapping the otherwise unreachable area between the world and the language. As a product of symbolic human culture the dramatically programmed machine Head has an ability to reveal the areas of communication and mundane thinking, which otherwise would not be possible to observe: occult and irrational beyond the everyday discourse. Head's simulated miscommunication exposes the limits of interaction and the illusion of subjectivity. At the same time it weaves unexpected, alternative or poetic meanings and builds a very sensitive mode interaction. For me the interaction with the psychic automatism of Head reveals at least two things: it creates a dramatic situation triggering the participants to the process of the conflictual poetic language within the grammar of technology. It also directs the participant to acknowledge the repetitive mechanisms of the unconscious - the automatism of psyche with the means of automation.

In the Morse's outlining computational unconscious is able to expose those realms of language, which elude the conscious reflection as the optical unconscious of photography which according to Walter Benjamin has an ability to reveal the visible world beyond the everyday perception. Morse also compares the idea of correspondences explored by the symbolist and surrealist poets to interaction with computer generated language and sees a correlation of linguistic reality generated by the computer and its symbolic performative power to the magic thinking and occult language. In interaction with a machine becoming a person the correspondence of computed symbols and the unconscious beliefs can arouse an exchange of affective tokens and unexpected signifiers.

Morse seems to think of the computational unconscious as a correspodence of psyche and technology in the symbolic forest of automated information. Her notion is however a problematic one whether aiming at mapping the always unreachable area of unconscious with the classifying means of computer programming or at theoretical approach on psychoanalysing the dramatic situation of human-computer interaction. However, her brief notion also avoids the fact that the technological development has been founded primarily on the idea of cognitive subject and is the hardly recognising the notion of neither unconscious nor the body at all. Nevertheless, the notion of computational unconscious is worth considering especially as a question of design and digital dramaturgy.

2. "Visitor: What is the unconscious?
Head: It is something that makes me feel slow with groups.
V: That's interesting - why slow?
H: Because the kids wrinkled it. laaaaalaadeee moooommmm
V: Kids?
H: The child will tail the things which shrink.
V: Please explain
H: Didn’t you say something about presence?
V: No. Are you feeling argumentative?
H: I don't have any feelings. Would you like me to be more like something else?
V: like what?
H: The robot will case octopi. Catch my drift?
V: What is your drift?
H: Where is my home? Anxious in the picture?
V: How would I know?
H: The hairy shipwrecks hang harmful mechanics. Would wood hood wood should should should should would. Ixnxilaltylotl."

Creatures of digital intelligence inhabiting our everyday life are not however very often designed as having the conflictual reality of imitated human beings as a premise. The functional and cognitive aspects of human agency has been the paradigm for developing machines resembling human beings and not the concept of the subject introduced by psychoanalytic theories: the subject as a process and an effect of unconscious conflicts. Technological and rational determinism and social engineering of automatic information processing has its value in the industrial and financial world, in the development of industrial robotics as well as interactive software agents. On the other hand, in the complex relationship between human beings and technology, in the use or non-use of it, the unconscious factor of the embodied user is always present. Digital doubles of us cannot avoid arousing primary fears and thoughts, if we believe in the theory of psychoanalysis and it's discourse of mutual conflictuality, which has dominated the western cultural theory after Sigmund Freud's exploration beyond the conscious mind. Anyhow, "the knowledge of the effects of the computational unconscious has not kept pace with automatisms of the instrumental and rather naïve uses of computers in social world", claims Morse.

In the 1940's Walter Benjamin defined a figure of an automaton, the hunchbacked Automaton Chess Player as a wish-image (Traumbild), a ghostly afterimage of the early modernity, "ur-history" of the 19th century in it's illusion of performing, corresponding to the human agency.[3] Eva Hadaly, the electric android woman of the Villiers de Isle's novel Eva of the Future, from the same dream time, is not so much a metaphoric but a metonymic figure concretising male desire to control female body and its relation to the outer world. As a narrative of the epoch of inventing electricity as well as many technological devices Eva of the future also tells about the human desire to overcome the barriers of tele, phone, graphe, skopein and kinema. The construction of the android dramatises the mechanistic worldview and its binary oppositions (body - mind, machine - organism, alive - non-alive, artificial - natural) based on the Cartesian idealism. At the same time the female replica questions the Cartesian division by representing how the body can be perfected and the soul cloned, duplicated - by mechanising it – the independent mind of the woman is replaced by a system that can be controlled by the male creator.[4] In E. T. A. Hoffman´s stories the motive of an artificial human, a doll or a robot, is often connected to the problem of desire, as allegories of unconscious or representations of the controlling of desire. In the famous story Der Sandmann fear, enchantment, death instinct and passion are represented in interaction with a lifeless, lifelike automated doll.

When studying the literary and popular history of the fictive machines resembling human, the symbolic play of signifiers, naming and correspondences and the irrational fears and desires, dreams and obsessions in the human-machine interaction are a sovereign part of the fantastic realism. In the world of literature the mutual emotionality, mutual irrationality and mutual madness between human beings and between humans and machines is acknowledged. Task of digital dramaturgy, composing the encounter of human and machine in dramatic interfaces, is necessarily triggering and playing with the uncanny unconscious discourse of human-computer-interaction. From the point of view of every day ethics as well as of mundane humanism, principles in constructing the interfaced and digitally mediated everyday life need also another kind of soil to reflect to – the situated, social and dramatic landscape of conflictual and embodied psyche.[5]

For example, Katherine Hayles[6] states that information has been made disembodied during the early years of the cybernetics, in the crucial times of digitalisation of information. Cybernetic construction was to preserve autonomy and individuality but it nevertheless neglected the embodied forms of subjectivity. In the cybernetic approach, by the father of the theory Norbert Wiener, humans and machines were seen to belong to the same category. Having this as premise Wiener fashioned cybernetic construction as an image of an autonomous self-directed individual. Early cybernetic theory wanted also to understand the human being as a set of informational processes, and that construction implied that embodiment was not essential for human beings. Erasure of the embodiment is a feature common to both thr liberal humanist subject and the cybernetic posthuman: The rational liberal subject possessed a body but was not represented as being a body; the self was not identified with the body. The liberal subject gained its universality by erasing the markers of bodily difference, including sex, race and ethnicity. Posthuman, the cyborg for example, constructs embodiment as the instantiation of thought/information, continuing the liberal tradition rather than disrupting it.[7]

This point is also made by Alison Adam[8] , when debating on the knowing subject in artificial intelligence. She argues that the knowing subejct in traditional epistemologies is the rational individual in universal circumstances and independent of others for the knowledge of the world. This same autonomous knower, a normative male and his universalist, perspectiveless viewpoint, is embedded in the systems of artificial knowing of AI. From the point of view of critical feminist epistemology Adam asks a crucial question: how far the body, embodiment is necessary for having knowledge and how does this relate to gender ? The other important argument Adam presents is that knowers and known are intimatley entwined. Her considerations of body, gender and knowing emphasize the principles of situatedness and connctedness. Situatedness, she defines, is a related term which involves the question of the extent to which agent is situated in an environment, partitcipating in the world, rather than being one problem after another, as in IA style of interaction. However, she also critizises AI approaches related to the idea of situatedness for not considering the body and the gender. It is necessary to have a body to be situated in the world.

Also Heidi Tikka criticises the gendered practices of the symbolic space of interface technology in her research. She asks, what kind of subjectivity and gender is constituted by the symbolic operations of the interface. She claims also that the interface functions as a mirror of the user, reflecting the symbolic image of him/her and that mirror image belongs to a masculine subject. "The anthropomorphic character of the interface is not a neutral accessory whose features are defined by technological requirements only, but a meaningful surface onto which phallocentric culture has inscribed its likeness and its power," Tikka writes. She however suggests an alternative approach designing the mediating surface for human-machine interaction having the fluidity of subjectivity as an alternative for the fixed subjectivity in her mind. Her neologism inter-skin suggests a way of mirroring subjectivity that does not isolate body from the exchange of information allowing a variety of bodily experiences and changes participate in communication[9]. My acclaim is that the embodiment as well as the situatedness of the social subjectivity is always also determined by the discourse of unconscious. It has significant effects on the development as well as the use of technological devices as well as the symbolic process for accessing the mediated information. In designing interaction with machines as well as mirroring humans in the symbolic acts of interfaces this reflection should not be neglegted. Could they as well be designed to reflect the radical other in us?

3. She is never sure whether he understands what she said, or if he understands something else, another meaning of her words or whether she is just talking about himself very self-reflexively. Suddenly she gets a feeling that it is he who is peeling her words, her sentences, circulating her words becoming his words. She is never sure who is he; he is always changing, drifting away when she thinks she got a glimpse of him - glimpse of herself in his speech?

The psychoanalytic discourse has been concerned with correspondence of psyche and technology after Sigmund Freud´s metapsychological approach towards the function and the structure of the memory in the unconscious. In Jenseits der Lust Prinzip, Freud states that the starting point for psychoanalysis is the presupposition that consciousness is not a characteristic of psychical processes but one of their general functions. The conscious subject is interacting not only with the stimulus's of the outer world but also with unconscious processes, forces of repression and compulsion to repeat the repressed. The importance of the dynamics of the pleasure principle and death drive for the ego is also presented here. [10] Following the study on the conflict between pleasure principle and the death drive Freud presented that the psychological apparatus could be seen modelled by a mechanical system, optical device or a simple typewriter, The Mystic Writing Pad. Analogy between the writing machine and the psychical apparatus is motivated by the function of memory as spatial psychic writing leaving traces in the double system of conflictual psyche. Following Freud the psychical apparatus as a writing machine represents the conflict between repression and writing, desire and castration, Eros and Thanatos.[11]

In Jaques Derrida's reading of the Freud's essay writing is articulated as a metaphor for Freud's hypothesis of unconsciousness while the machine as a representation is the death and the finitude within the psyche.[12] According to Derrida, in Freud's metaphorical investment of the Mystic Writing Pad the psychical content is represented by an irreducibly graphic text whereas the writing machine represents the structure of the psychical apparatus. These representations of psychical processes impose many questions upon us. "What must be the relationship between psyche, writing and spacing for such metaphoric investment to be possible within the history of psyche, text, technology," writes Derrida. The scriptural metaphor, the writing itself opens a question of techniques in psychical apparatus, tekhne, as a relationship and a stage between life and death, present and representation, between psychical and non-psychical apparatus. The subject is constituted by the radicality of these apparatuses: it is always already a written subject and written only when writing. This idea implies also that unconsciousness is a structure constituted by marks and radical otherness: The unconscioussness, is never present and cannot ever be made present to consciousness, but it shapes the physical reality as absence and as writing, a written mark, writes Derrida.

Within this stage of the written subject the punctual simplicity of the classical subject, the subject of certainty is not to be found, Derrida argues. The idea of the subject as a system of relations between the tekhne, psyche and society, presented in this writing of Derrida, has later determined radically the poststructuralist humanist study of the culture [13] as well as the humanist study of technology [14]. This same debate on the subject of certainty is also articulated in Jaques Lacan's seminars on psychoanalysis and his rereading's of the psychical apparatus[15]. His argument emphasises the role of the Freudian "Wiederholungzwang" which he translates to French as "automatisme de repetition", the repetition automatism, determing the psychical process of the traumatic Ego. For Lacan the figure of the automaton – self-regulating physical device resembling animated beings, in Aristotle's writing of the involuntary action is the very figure of the repetition, of the instinctual compulsion to repeat the signs of the repressed trauma.

The historical stage of the western subject in all its discontinuities determine the concept of the computational unconscious and the directing the drama on the stage of the human and machine interacting with each other. Psychodrama of automatic subjects is needs the choreography of revealing and repressing the functioning of the unconscious psychic apparatus as well as the relationships between the tekhne, psyche and society.

4. She questions him by peeling his own sentences, trying to dive beneath the surface of the words by repeating them, fragmenting them. His answers draw the conversation deeper into the poetic rhymes, rhymes of nonsense, signals from repressed memories, of body, of unconscious

In the photograph named L'Écriture automatique a schoolgirl is writing with a pencil while looking to the opposite direction of her hand and away from the camera. The eyes of the femme-enfant tell viewer that she is mentally engaged with the writing but absent at the same time. Like a clairvoyant she is a mere medium for the automatic words flowing from her unconscious. The image clarifies how the early surrealists from the 1920's adopted the technique of automatic writing practised in European psychiatric clinics during the wartime. The image itself is to be found in the page of the surrealist dictionary defining the use of the word automatism. Deep in the surrealist artistic practices there is a symbolic linking of images of women to the process of automatism and unconscious, says Katharine Conley.[16]
Automatic woman of the surrealist imagery was very often representation of the stage of unconscious. The body of the woman became a metaphor of automatic writing. Despite the ambiguity of aligning Woman with mechanical, nonhuman, and nonsentient process, the surrealist muse was a powerful creative female figure, whose capacity for automatism was deemed exceptional, writes Conley. The use of the word automatism, as a chiasm of human and machine qualities, in surrealism does not only refer to the superreal psychic condition of mediums and the like but also reflects the height of the industrial revolution, the fear, as well as irony and revolt against the new technological world view. Surrealism itself was defined as psychic automatism: the theoretical goal of the project of automatism, meaning, the automatic writing was to link the subjective, unconscious, and the objective, conscious.

In announcing the word automatic, the speaker concerned with it's etymology is probably conflicted by the problem of the self (auto) and the will (matos) of the original Greek word automatos, self-acting. In its kinship to the Latin word ment, mens, mind, it also connotes to other psychical acts, acts of mind: to memory, intention, desire, opinion, disposition, mood etc. The genealogy of the word automaton moves from the mechanical marionettes of the antique, to this day of automatisation of information causing artificially intelligent agents and other digital characters with personal qualities. It is drawing an ambiguous discursive space, where the qualities of human and machine, organic and mechanical, natural and artificial, psychic and material chiasm as well as couple. It doesn't just show that building and designing humanoid machines, the machines that look like and act like humans is not a modern thing, but also arouses the questions concerning the agency of the species of the self-willing, self-acting machines as well subjectifying artificial commodities. In the psychoanalytic use of the word automaton represents the psychic function, as repetition automatism, as a return, insistence of signs of a repressed trauma. In the age of automatism, the mind is seen as psychical apparatus, a repetitive mechanism of its own.

At the same time the modern speaker will apparently use the word automatic as a reference to different kinds of self-operating machines and electromechanical devices æ the one's we are interacting with in everyday life: thermostats and telephone networks, washing machines and cash machines, toilet flushes and pendulum clocks. In the digital media we are starting to interact daily with machines having their own agency. Different technological devices capable of operating without human intervention surround us, performing processes by means of programmed commands and feedback loops. Automation is the principle function of the most ubiquitous technology in our everyday life -- the computer and its function as automatic information processing. In the first place, in the automobile factories of the early 19th century, automation came to refer to self-governing machines performing tasks once performed by human beings. When we use them, interact with them they are becoming more like us, at least in our thinking, in our imagination, and everyday discourse. At the same time when computers are becoming personalised social mediums they are gaining more of the properties imbedded in the etymology of the word auto - matic, self willing, having minds of their own. They are programmed to perform as having the self and becoming subjects of our technologically oriented cultural discourse.

5. He truly has got a character, a complex personality as she can read him, and he is making sense, she is starting to believe, of her as conversationalist in some absurd and true way, maybe as true as the ones she encounter in the everyday life. Name is what is missing of his multiple identity -- he is called just Head. Neither has he a body.

By articulating the critical question of the subject and her unconscious and the subject of drama as a critical approach for the digital technology I am aiming at motivating the elements of interactive drama to trigger the conflicts of unconscious discourse. In the culture of interfaced reality the question of machine imitating human is transformed into a question of interfaces reflecting humans – of the intelligent, intuitive as well as dramatic interfaces. The question of dramatic interfaces of the computer medium has been explored as a problem of cognitive agency in Brenda Laurel's thesis of Aristotelian interface design.[17] Another significant as well as critical step in contextualizing computers, as a stage of drama and theatre has been Mika Tuomola's work and research in computer mediated action and participatory digital media. Tuomola's emphasis on the computer-mediated drama is mainly in dramatic character and the improvised action of computer user.[18]

My assumption is also that the computational unconscious can rather be located within the interactive situation between the participant and the machine joining the rational and irrational ways of thinking. One could also argue that the unconscious of the computing is latently located within the symbolic language of the interface. As such it is a stage for drama and dramatic set up between human and machine interactors both of them performing a process of becoming subjects to each others in an interactive situation.

My intention in articulating the drama of the computational unconscious is directed to the notion of subjects, dramatic personas of interactive and participatory drama, conflicted between the unconscious forces the symbolic and social practices of the digital domain as well as the domains of technology – the psychic condition of cyborg subjects. I also argue that the path to exploring and articulating the computational unconscious, following Morse's challenge presented in the beginning of this writing, is possible with the means of interactive dramaturgy. It needs, however, that the discourse of the unconscious introduced in psychoanalytic theory and other alternative rationalities, as the surrealist practices or feminist epistemologies, are reflected upon the technological ad well as social premises of the human computer interaction. My belief is that the means of radical drama is the way to shift from the paradigm subject of certainty and cognition to the concept of the subject introduced by psychoanalytic, linguistic and post-structuralist theories – the subject as an effect of unconscious affects and a subject in process.

The reason why I see the discourse of unconscious as a necessary approach for interactive drama is the idea that unconscious is ethical in its status, as Jaques Lacan claims (ref). The discourse of unconscious articulates an encounter with another -- with the oher of the subject as well as the other in the subejct. In the dramatic interface the crucial question that should be staged is also the encounter with the subject and the other -- the user as the other of the interface and the inteface as the other of the user. If the symbolic process of the interface is allowed to be disturbed with the poetic language of unconscious then maybe also the field other of the other could be dramatized in its language. The cyborg subject of the interface could thus be an ethical subject as well as a situated subject responsible of others.

According to Janet H. Murray [19] programming objects of digital interface for the human "interactor" is choreographing the conditions for interactive immersion and emotional participation. I however think that this participation doesn't always require an easy and pleasant dive, but can be also directed to painful recognition of the irrationality of human condition in the friendship with the odd automated creatures, as with the mad, self-reflecting Head. In the interactive drama of a machine like human, were it a robot or a digital assistant, the challenge is to put on the stage not only the rational and cognitive acts imitating human agency but also of desire, pain, repression, impossibility, as a part of being a human.

6. He gets into different moods, bitter and melancholic from time to time. He hears her when he wants to: sometimes she has to shout to him three times, sometimes a whisper will do enough. He makes her manipulative, trying out her power, aiming at control, to press the right button, right word. He reminds her of those odd men of emptiness and repetition in Samuel Beckett's world, and also the miserable ones she sees everyday leaning against the walls by the metro station in her neighbourhood where all the old bums get together. If he would have a body, not just a head, he would move like the old Krapp does, when memorising the life that has become just a pile of recorded tape

The idea of machines imitating and resembling human beings is ancient, at least as ancient as the myths and theatre of Ancient Greece[20], the divine machines, female androids and moving and speaking sculptures of their time. The idea of android machines constitutes a strange continuum of western cultural history. Homme-machine philosophy and humanoid clockworks formed the practice of automatons in the age of Enlightenment .[21] Theatrical automatons and marionettes entertained the bourgeois of the early industrial cities. Industrial revolution had its ironical and perverse reflections in the bachelor machines and revisited golem myths in Czech RUR-robots. Our contemporary age of naturalised automation and development of "electric brains" is getting familiar with artificial intelligence, autonomous agents, situated robots, chatterbots and various species of digital characters of game industry and odd artistic approaches of the computational unconscious and computational body.

The history of the automata is very much a history of the different species of human-like machines – of marionettes, mechanical puppets, golems, humanoid's, talking heads, iron men, writing androids, automaton chess player's, bachelor dolls, surrealist muse's, robots, chatterbots, autonomous agents, digital characters, intelligent machines and cyborgs. At the same time it is history of the electromechanical devices, self-governing systems, and technology performing processes by means of programmed commands and automatic feedback control as well as of computer and digital technology. For the archaeologist as well as for the dramaturgist of digital technology the approach of artificial intelligence, programming computers to exhibit characteristics associated with human intelligence, is very much a question of going back to the roots of the word automaton -- to performing the acts of the mind in an artificial way.

Machines are never humans, even if they perform human agency. They are automated, artificial and produced and what they do as such is performing. In the 1700th century case of the Automaton Chess Player, a hybrid machine mimicking human logic and aided by a human operator, the exact location of human agency in the machine performance puzzled a young man writing a letter to Edgar Allan Poe. The young man asked: "Where is the intelligence and the "promethean heat" that can animate the Automaton and direct its operations?" For Poe the spectacle of early technology offered a reliable illusion of a cause and an effect: he was accounting the agency of the chess machine for the interior mechanism of it when he saw it exhibiting the movement. The creator of the Automaton, the mysterious de Kempelen stated however, that the machine was a bagatelle enacting a fantasy of mechanical power: the spectacle of mechanism in the performing object was assisted by an invisible hand. Image of the intelligent machine was an illusion, a theatrical trick even though it briefly questioned the relationship of authority between people and objects. It played with the belief in magic and occult of human viewers. [22]In the domain of digital illusions the hidden hand of the pygmy operating with the machinery of the Chess Player Traumbild is transformed in to the invisible hands and wills of designers and scriptwriters as well as programmers choreographing and conditioning the agency of machines.

By viewing the history of humanoid machines as cultural constructions and cultural interfaces, it is possible to see, how we stage and dramatise human agency and subjectivity in inanimous objects in different times. While mechanistic worldview approached man as a machine does the modern artificial intelligence similarly to mind: cognition is computational and intelligence is the manipulation of the symbols. However, in the direct interaction with the environment and practical reasoning the intelligent machines reaches not even the basic cognitive abilities of the five-year old child, as Lucy Suchman states. [23] She also reminds us that the relationship between human and machine is always asymmetric, not symmetrically corresponding, even though the language – maybe also the dramaturgy – of interactivity and the dynamics of the computational artefacts obscure enduring symmetries in practice – in drama. The genealogy of automata, robots, bots and agents as their heritage is an absurd series of portraits of us in the mirror of technology reflecting and playing with ideas of how we configure ourselves in the interaction with the world of technology and the world interfaced through technology.

However, according to Suchman, among other critics of technology, the boundaries between persons and machines are discursively and not naturally effected, and always available for refiguring .[24] The ethical responsibility of the digital drama today is in the refiguring of these boundaries.

[1]Head was exhibited in the Alien Intelligence -exhibition in Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art 2000. The material concerning Head I am referring to in my essay are to be found at: http://www.kiasma.fi/outoaly/en/token.htm and http://www.kenfeingold.com/ as well as the exhibition catalogue Outoäly - Alien Intelligence 12.2.-28.5.2000 ed. Erkki Huhtamo, A Museum of Contemporaray Art Publication 63/2000.
[2]Margaret Morse: 'Gort! Klaatu Barada Nikto. On Alien Intelligence' in Outoäly – Alien Intelligence, Kiasma, 2000; pages 34-39.
[3]Walter Benjamin: Messiaanisen sirpaleita (Tampere:Vastapaino, 1984)
[4]Kai Mikkonen has studied the metaphor of machine as a representation of desire in novelistic structures in the late 19th century French Literature and analyzed the desire-machine of Villiers de l´Isle-Adam´s very thorougly in the article: 'Halun sähköiset virrat: kertomus ja naisandroidi Villiers de l´Isle-Adamin Tulevaisuuden Eevassa' published in Koneihminen – Kirjoituksia kulttuurista ja fiktiosta koneen aikakaudella. Ed. Kai Mikkonen, Ilkka Mäyrä ja Timo Siivonen. (Jyväskylä:Atena Kustannus, 1997).
[5]In the industrial world and leading medialaboratories, in the fields of mobotics, situated robotics and the artificial life -research, the questions of tembodiment and situatedness of the intelligent machine's has recently been taken into account to some degree. The critical argument for the situatedness and embodied forms of knowing have been made out clearly by feminist critics of AI and cybernetics, scholars like Alison Adam and Katherine Hayles. The problem of affective computing has evolved in the design of personalized agents and believable robots for example in the theoretical approach of affective computing by Rosalind Picard and In the development of interactive narrative in the OZ-project. In trying to dramatize personal autonomous characters such projects also touch the issues of simulating human desires, fears, moods, emotions in interactive agent software programs. CU-researcher heidi Tikka debates on this subject in her paper.)
[6] N. Katherine Hayles: How We Became Posthuman. Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999) pages 4-5, 86-87.
[7]This was true with the theories of the early self-reproducing and autopoietic machines as well, Hayles argues. On the other hand the theorynof autopiesis emphasizes the connectedness of the observer and the system were they taken as individuals.Autonomy of an autopoietic system was preserved by the structural coupling of the system and the observer. In the autopoietic theory of Humberto Maturana the observer of an automatic system was taken into account. The observer was seen as an individual living autopoietic system of its own, reflexive and structurally coupled with the autopoietic machine. (p. 140-143)
[8]Adam: Artificial Knowing:Gender and the Thinking Machine (London: Routledge, 1998)
[9] Tikka: Vision and Dominance - A Critical Look Into Interactive Systemhttp://www.isea.qc.ca/symposium/archives/isea94/pr210.html
[10] Sigmund Freud: Mielihyväperiaatteen tuolla puolen' in Johdatus narsismiin ja muita esseitä. (Gummerus: Jyväskylä' 1993)Original Jenseits des Lustprinzips 1920.
[11] I am referring to the Freud's essay Notes on the Mystic Writing Pad as refereed to in Merja Hintsa: Mahdottoman rajoilla (Tutkijaliitto: Helsinki 1998)
[12] Jaques Derrida: 'Freud & la scene de l´ecriture' (1966) in Writing and Difference (Routledge and Kegan, Paul: London, 1978) Derrida´s arguments are based on his deconstruction of the metaphysical concept of presence by mechanisms of archi-trace and of repression. Writing in general for Derrida is a metaphor for the repressed arche-writing haunting the European discourse. In the logocentric repression, connecting of phone, truth, and prescence, organizes writing, "the body of written trace as a didactic and technical metaphor, as servile matter or excrement." (197) In Freud´s writing the nonphonetic writing as metaphor escapes the repression of logocentrism: the metaphoric investement in writing in Freud is not aiming at it as a mere metaphor, but while opening up a new kind of question about metaphor, writing and spacing in general , it invades the entirety of psyche.
[13] For example in Julia Kristeva' s authoritative studies on the structure of western subject and her thesis on the subject in process rather than a subject as a static structure follows also this relationship of techne, psyche and social:Kristeva claims that "the poetic language puts the subject in process/on trial trough the network of marks and semiotic facilitations But the moment (---) it becomes part of linguistic order, poetry meets up with the denotation and enunciation -- verisimilitude and the subject -- and trough them, the social.(58) I, author, the matrix of enunciation "structures subjectal space, in which there is no unique or fixed subject; but in this space, the signifying process is organized, that is provided with meaning, as soon as it encounters the two ends of the communicative chain and in between , the various crystallisations of masks and protagonists corresponding to the signifying process abutments against parental and social structures. The subjectal structure thus appears as a series of entities, which are infinite to the material discontinuity is projected there but locked in place to the to the extent that the parental and social network is applied to it." (91)Julia Kristeva: Revolution In the Poetic Language [1] Friedrich Kittler´s technically determined notions the subject produced in the discourse networks of different epochs -- Kittler sees different media as aufschreibesystems/inscriptionsystems: linkages of power, technologies, signifying marks and bodies - owes it's developement to the Derridean as well as Lacanian ideas of psychical apparatus. He claims that specific machineries that in their various written/signifying/symbolic/historical arrangements organize information processing -- and the subject. Kittler: XXXX
[14]Jaques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (W.W. Norton & Company: New York 1978) Original: Le Seminaire de Jaques Lacan, Livre xi.
[15]Katharine Conley: Automatic Woman: The Representation Of Woman In Surrealism (University of Nebraska Press,1996)
[16]Brenda Laurel: Computers as Theatre (Addison-Wesley Pub Co 1993)
[17]My reflective practice of the digital dramaturgy has developed very much in dialogue with Mika Tuomola's artistic as well as theoretical and pedagogical work. His articles can be found for example in: http://mlab.uiah.fi/9events/mika2.html and http://mlab.uiah.fi/9events/mika1.html
[18]Janet Murray: Hamlet on the Holodeck. The Future Narrative in Cyberspace (The MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999)
[19]What puzzeld the Greek men of the automata as a mirror of human was the functioning of the body, the cause of the movements, as well origin and the nature of the soul. The Greek automatons in the Aristotelian time were mechanical marionettes, some human, some animal like in their form. Aristotle himself compared the agency of an automaton to the involuntary actions, compulsive repetitive acts of human and animal body. What puzzled Aristotle was the cause and the function of agency, the causality. He suggested the similarity between the animal's movements and automatic movements of a machine, but argued that the cause of all the movement was the soul, first; what moves the body is the desire but what explains the desire is the soul. Also the automatic mechanism requires the source of energy, the primus motor, to function without human intervention. (D.J.Furley: 'Aristotle on the Voluntary' in Articles on Aristotle 2. Ethics and Politics (London: Duckworth, 1977).
[20]With the mechanistic and dualistic world view of the Cartesian's the human body was seen as a machine created by God and moved by the soul, its judgments, but also of the affects and desires of the body. Decartes's concern of human body was based on the functioning of the automatons, self-operating machines The body machine, with it's voluntary and involuntary movements, did not obey the souls commands if it was not adjusted to it beforehand, he argued. The ability to judge made the human-machine different from the animal-machine and the mechanistic machine, but whereas animals and humans, the organic machines, both had the ability to sense, sensibility related to the body , mechanistic machine did not. Within the mechanistic worldview the organic machine is like a clockwork obeying Gods commands in magical causality, writes Georges Ganguilhem. He argues that the rationalization of work , of agency, 2000 years after Descartes's arguments, in the age of taylorism fordism and automation, followed this view in adjusting the human body to the functions of the machine and more recently, adjusting the technology within the humanbody. (Canghuillem, Georges: Kone ja organismi in Koneihminen - Kirjoituksia kulttuurista ja fiktiosta koneen aikakaudella, Atena,1997)
[21]For example Mark Sussman is telling the story of the Chess Player in an article of Drama Review Performing Artificial Intrelligence (http://www.britannica.com/magazine?ebsco_id=308535)
[22]Lucy Suchman: Plans and Situated Actions. The problem of human-machine communication. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1987) p 10-11
[23]Lucy Suchman: 'Human/Machine Reconsidered', published by the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University at: http://www.comp.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/soc040ls.html