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Excerpts from Reading Frankenstein: Mary Shelley As 21st Century Artificial Life Scientist

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Version of Record: LaFarge, Antoinette, and Loui, Annie (2013). Excerpts from Reading Frankenstein: Mary Shelley As 21st Century Artificial Life Scientist. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.3. doi:10.7264/N3TX3C9F

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Antoinette LaFarge and Annie Loui

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Fig. 1: Mary Shelley, a 21st century artificial life scientist, standing in front of one of her hybrid AIs.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Fig. 1: Mary Shelley, a 21st century artificial life scientist, standing in front of one of her hybrid AIs.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Introduction

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 1 Reading Frankenstein was an intermedia performance project that premiered at the Beall Center for Art and Technology at the University of California, Irvine, in 2003. The main premise is that a contemporary artificial life scientist and genetic engineer named Mary Shelley discovers that one of her failed computer experiments was never fully erased and is now running amok in her laboratory, at the same time as the novel Frankenstein is haunting her imagination. Tension rises between Shelley and her Prometheus AI as he discovers he is being replaced by a newer form of a-life, one that fuses his algorithmic AI (modeled on male neurological structures) with biological materials (female neural tissue), resulting in a different species. The confrontation between Mary and her Creature culminates inside a virtual gaming environment. Reading Frankenstein was a collaboration of theater director Annie Loui (Professor of Drama, UC Irvine), visual artist and writer Antoinette LaFarge (Professor of Art, UC Irvine), and Dr. James Fallon, former professor of anatomy and neurobiology at UC Irvine. URL: http:// yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/index.html

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 1 Reading Frankenstein began not with Mary Shelley but with Annie thinking about the vicarious nature of reading: how one can experience the world of a well-described story so viscerally that it becomes ‘real’ –for instance, details never mentioned in the text are filled in by the act of imagination.  All readers, to some degree, experience a book as a temporary suspension of disbelief that enables a process of living through the characters.  And there is a literal aspect to this imagined experience: recent scientific research confirms that the vivid emotional responses–such as fear or joy–engendered by the fictional situations we read in a book can register as brain-wave activity very similar or even identical to the responses one has in parallel real-life situations. (Research on trauma suggests a similar parallelism between the neurological experience of trauma and of memories of trauma.) Depending in part on one’s willingness to suspend disbelief, the brain waves measured may be identical between the ‘real’ and the ‘read’.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 After Antoinette joined the project, we kicked around ideas for several books to provide a central storyline for the project before we settled on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Annie loved the two-character aspect of the novel and the embedded questions of artistic creativity and responsibility: the creator abandons his (or, in our case, her) creature, and the creature returns to demand attention. Antoinette, however, had initial reservations about aligning the project with a text so heavily worked-over as Frankenstein— just consider the recent spate of Frankenstein-descended dystopic movies about genetically engineered humanoids. Yet, thinking about Haraway’s cyborgs, Antoinette started to wonder about what nonobvious forms a constructed life might take. In Reading Frankenstein, we came up with a kind of surreal mélange, a  ‘strong’ computational artificial life form that was at the same time something like a self-determining virus and that could present itself as human at will. In effect, it passed the Turing test. In a nod to both literacy and feminism, our Creature made itself stronger by a kind of structural self-education, evolving itself by pulling entire texts into its base code (becoming-reading)–most centrally, of course, Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mary Shelley, in turn, became a 21st century genetic engineer, skilled both at writing (creating code) and creating life forms seen by some as monstrous. In Reading Frankenstein, our Shelley ‘writes’ her Creature into life in a specific way, while her Creature both reads and rewrites itself into knowledge and power.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 In our project, we also posited a future model of our Promethean life form that would replace its progenitor by being partly built on a substrate of biological matter, carbon plus silicon. Annie brought neurologist Jim Fallon into the project to supply as firm a scientific grounding for our ideas as possible, given that we were speculating off the edges of the possible. Specifically, we posited that the future ‘Pandora’ life form would be partly based on female neural tissue–probably something like stem cells, though we don’t say as much–because of the fact that human beings begin cellular development as females before about half of them turn male during early fetal development. Since the Pandora is only referred to as a potential avenue of research, we didn’t have to follow out the essentialist implications of this idea (maybe in a sequel…) This Pandoran life form was not proposed as a humanoid but rather as something closer to a bio-computer with a different physical basis for its experiential development. Although one can’t wholly escape the influence of the brain-as-computer/computer-as-brain metaphor that has dominated for the past half-century, neither of us subscribes to the Cartesian idea (so ably dissected by Kate Hayles) that information is separable from embodiment. Our Creature is far from the ‘meat puppet’ trope popular in some circles of science fiction and extropian speculation.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Reading Frankenstein is structured as a duel between Mary and her Creature and also as a coming-of-age story for the Creature. Both are powerful in their own spheres but wish they were elsewhere; uncertain how to treat one another, neither monsters nor saviors. We eschewed the hard-boiled, streetwise, gritty style that is the default setting for dystopic science fiction focused on struggle-for-survival storylines. We took advantage of the fact that we were doing theater rather than science and gave our Creature the ability to pull our Mary Shelley into its own world of code, a world that greatly resembled a computer game–though more Count Zero than Tron.  The polar chase of the original novel is reconstructed as a text-based adventure game: that almost-perfect merger of doing and reading that flourished briefly in the 1980s and 1990s before graphical games took over.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Given that one of the pivot points of this exploration was an examination of the vicarious nature of reading, our contemporary/futuristic story paralleled the structure of the novel but also involved the artificial life scientist Mary Shelley in reading the novel Frankenstein–that is, in reading a version of her own story displaced in time. For Annie, as a theater director and devisor of new theater works, this became a wonderful jumping–off place for staging the piece. Since our Creature existed in a virtual world of code, it could be portrayed by code, or by a disembodied voice; most often, however, it was portrayed by a male actor whose image was projected into the performance space by real-time video. The Creature’s ‘video-self” was projected onto stripped-down versions of the ordinary places where you might most often find a contemporary genetic engineer: at the lab looking into monitors, and at home watching television. But sometimes the Creature appeared on the walls, on the ceiling, or in train windows as Mary became more obsessed and more haunted by her creation.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 The great challenge of the staging became how to have an essentially two-person dramatic script be viable when one of the characters was entirely virtual for most of the hour-long piece. Only at the end of the production, when the Creature entices Mary into his world, do we see them both onstage. So the technological aspects of the construction, both in theory and in practice, were critical to the success of the production. We placed our Creature offstage, in a back room with a live camera feed to the main stage. A monitor gave him a view of the stage action so that he could respond in real time to the onstage Mary Shelley, while the backroom videocamera captured those responses for projection on one of the various surfaces we had chosen for his appearance. Although the embodied Mary in one sense owned the stage and was the original author of events, she was constantly under pressure: from the virtual Creature (projected over-life-size in many instances), from incidents outside her control, from her own reading of Frankenstein.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 A series of surreal projections of streaming code and a futuristic user interface, plus three-dimensional brain modeling (by one of our collaborators who was an imaging scientist) gave ongoing visual context to scenes that quickly shifted place, time, and virtual/material realities. Our actors were chosen in part for their ability to both hold a stage alone and to interact using real-time video. We were lucky in our choices of actors and collaborators, and in the support over a nearly three-year process of the Beall Center–and we contemplate a re-mounting of this production in the not-too-distant future.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 —- online format to be determined: possible link to a new page for this section, which may be a link outside of the wordpress-based architecture of Ada itself. —

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Excerpts

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 1 What follows are selected excerpts from the script of Reading Frankenstein, accompanied by photos from the 2003 production, as well as some video and audio documentation. By an extraordinary piece of bad luck, most of the 2003 video documentation was stolen before it could be copied, so some of the video below comes from an earlier workshop production.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Fig. 2: There is a large rear-projection screen at the back of the stage. Two projectors situated to either side of the stage area project on walls at stage left and right. A fourth projector hung from the ceiling over center stage projects down onto the stage floor. Scattered around the stage are 3 pedestals of different heights, each topped by a video monitor.

Fig. 2: There is a large rear-projection screen at the back of the stage. Two projectors situated to either side of the stage area project on walls at stage left and right. A fourth projector hung from the ceiling over center stage projects down onto the stage floor. Scattered around the stage are 3 pedestals of different heights, each topped by a video monitor.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 CHARACTERS

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 MARY SHELLEY, a 21st century artificial life scientist with a habit of quoting from the eponymous 19th century author of the novel Frankenstein.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 CREATURE, also known as the PROMETHEUS AI, a 21st century artificial life form whose revived code has become partially fused with the text of the novel Frankenstein. Note that until part way through the last scene, the CREATURE does not appear on stage, manifesting his presence only through live video, audio, and data projections.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 a tv NEWSCASTER

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 JIM FALLON, a UC Irvine neurobiologist

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 DR FRANKENSTEIN, in shadow form

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 VOICE OF MARY SHELLEY, the author of Frankenstein

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0  

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 PRESHOW: EVERYTHING WE SAY IS DEFORMED

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 A before-curtain monologue with music, while audience is entering and sitting down.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 VOICE OF MARY SHELLEY (the author): Everything we say is deformed. No one ever hears quite what you wrote. Something more like an echo. They’re always listening for something else, the thing unsaid, the sign of their own discontent. They want to hear their own voice. You’re trying to raise your voice enough to be heard over that. But without screaming, how are you to make yourself even heard?…. The parts of speech: verbs now, verbs I believe were created without original sin. They embody the principle of profound and continual change. Make, Break. Give, Run. Die. Either they don’t sin or they only sin. Adverbs. Adverbs are demons that appear to us as angels by clothing themselves in the suppleness of verbs. Like, never, always, also. Do not be deceived. Their mission is to reduce verbs to nouns. And nouns are the familiar earthly powers and friendly to us. At least, they are willing to pretend to serve us. To shield us from the extremity of verbs. They say that no computer can model any computer the same size as itself or bigger. The man who proved this was born one hundred and eight years after me but I still understand what he meant. Language cannot model itself or anything bigger than itself. The brain cannot model itself or anything bigger than itself. You cannot– There is a ceiling to the knowable universe. There is a boat. I used to lie at the bottom of that boat, in the summer, and the cloudless sky was an infinity in which I lost myself and a nothingness in which I vanished, and a veil by which I was shut out of heaven, and a great blue weight that pressed me back down to earth. You must remain here. Where everything is formed according to the limits of our understanding.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 [LINK HERE TO THE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS PIECE, IF WE CAN GET PERMISSION FROM THE COMPOSER, with caption to come: http://www.forger.com/audio/Everything-We-Say.m4a]

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 SCENE 1: CREATION

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0

Fig. 3: In “Creation,” the silhouettes of MARY and DR FRANKENSTEIN appear on the rear-projection screen and perform a kind of shadow play. In audio voiceover we hear MARY speaking both as herself and as the author Mary Shelley, and we hear the voice of the CREATURE. Text from the opening pages of Frankenstein appears on screen letter by letter, mingled with some of the spoken text.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 MARY: What am I doing tonight? I’m reading Frankenstein… “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.” (breaking off) I am reading this, and you are not here.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 CREATURE: Write this down: every story is a ghost story.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 MARY: I am reading this aloud and inside my voice I hear myself telling myself the story. I am reading this story as I write it. I am telling it to you, although I don’t know who you are except that you must be like me and I wish you weren’t. (pause) I am writing this story as I read it. I am telling it to myself, only I don’t know who I am except that I must be myself and I wish I were you. (pause) I am afraid of too much quiet.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 CREATURE: Close your eyes.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 MARY:  “You will rejoice to hear that no disaster…”

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 CREATURE: (startled) You will rejoice?

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 MARY: Yes… “no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.” I close my eyes and I see words floating in the shining darkness, a daily ordinary miracle, and I am not reading them, I am seeing them whole.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 CREATURE: (prompting) Go on. “It was on…”

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 MARY: “a dreary night… “ (breaking off again) I worked hard to come up with that story. I wanted to speak to the mysterious fears of our nature…

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 CREATURE: You used dead people. Rotten flesh.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 MARY: Not rotten.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 CREATURE: Disgusting.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 SCENE 2: MARY’S LECTURE

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 RF image 5 RF image 4

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Fig. 4: For this project, Annie Loui had EEGs done of her brain while reading different kinds of materials. At left is the record of her brain while reading the script; at right while ‘reading’ a blank page.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 MARY gives a lecture, addressing the audience as her class; there are projections of scientific imagery. She begins by discussing the way in which cortical activity stimulated by imagining something imprints an aftereffect on memory, exactly as if that thing had been physically seen. Then:

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 MARY: Now, imagine a highly programmed AI that is also self-determining, able to make choices, able to function, perhaps able to teach this class for me. We begin with neural circuits, the patterns traveled by electro-chemical  impulses through the brain. These paths, these patterns, are brought into play by the stimulation of various receptors governing, among other things, our visual and aural perceptions.  In our present AI research, we have discovered that using human neurological functions as our template, we are best able to create “active” intelligence in artificial life forms. Intelligence being defined here as the ability to process information and then to respond to it…. A while back I was talking to a colleague at Cal Tech who is developing his own theories on this particular problem and I asked him what the characteristics of such a high-functioning AI would be.  “Slow,” he said, “it would be very slow and stupid at first. But not for long. Through continued experiences, it would develop exponentially in strength and intelligence.” We are not yet there– but are closing in… The next session will cover the developing human; age-specific behaviors seen through a study of cortical development….  Please note here that the earliest behaviors to appear in a new-born are primary-hand motor control, object classification, and fear.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 [ADD LINK TO RAT BRAIN AUDIO FILE HERE, with caption to come. Audio track on this video (can supply pure audio file later): http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/videos/rat-brain.html]

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 SCENE 3: CREATURE’S BIRTH

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Fig. 5: A still from a video in which the audience sees the world from the CREATURE's point of view, immediately after 'birth', when his sensory experience of the world is still fragmentary and incoherent. In a voiceover, the CREATURE tells what he recalls of this moment and the time immediately thereafter, using language adapted from Shelley's Frankenstein.

Fig. 5: A still from a video in which the audience sees the world from the CREATURE’s point of view, immediately after ‘birth’, when his sensory experience of the world is still fragmentary and incoherent. In a voiceover, the CREATURE tells what he recalls of this moment and the time immediately thereafter, using language adapted from Shelley’s Frankenstein.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 SCENE 4: MARY’S LAB 1

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 RF image 7

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Fig. 6. MARY is working at something in her lab, controlling her computers with arcane voice commands. The monitors and at least one large projection show interfaces to various computer processes. Whatever commands are spoken appear as scrolling text in the monitors, translated into ordinary English. After MARY has the computers booted up, the CREATURE’s words begin to appear intermingled with the other scrolling text as his voice is heard speaking.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0  

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0  (Projected on screen: error line 3. / error line 4. / error line 9. / compile failed. / 3 errors.)

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 CREATURE: Strange…. strange… strange…. light…. I walked….

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 MARY: (without turning) Set this dot who index to dollar sign nothing.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 CREATURE: thirsty… travels long… suffering intense…. hello??

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 ….

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 MARY: Evaluate dollar sign hacker trace

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0  (Projected on screen: no change)

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 CREATURE’S VOICE: This dot Mary dot announce string do you even recognize me in this state of degradation query

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0  (Projected on screen: Mary, do you even recognize me in this state of degradation?)

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 MARY: Kill task this dot PROMETHEUS!

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0  (Projected on screen: no change)

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 CREATURE: This dot Mary dot announce string you can’t kill phantom code endstring

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0  (Projected on screen: Mary, you can’t kill phantom code)

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 CREATURE: (simultaneously) If this.EXPERIMENT is ERASED…

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 MARY: (simultaneously) At root reset ampersand voice. At set system.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 CREATURE: (in a human voice) What are you doing?!

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0  (Projected on screen: if (this.experiment in erased) / @root reset & voice / @set system / program interrupted. / root reset to maryS / system reset to defaults / (blank line) / WHAT ARE YOU DOING?)

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 MARY: (flustered) You.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 ….

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 CREATURE: For weeks I have been wandering out here. Misty seas… caves of ice… glittering pinnacles.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 MARY: Transients… don’t travel.

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 CREATURE: I… have a very confused knowledge of kingdoms and geography. You will smile, but there is something at work in my soul that I don’t understand.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 MARY: (excited) What’s your RAMloc now?

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 ….

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 CREATURE: You must help me. I have lost everything.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 MARY: (overwhelmed) I can’t help you, your programming is limited– there were boundary conditions.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0  (MARY turns off machines. CREATURE vanishes from all the screens.)

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0  

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 SCENE 5: NEWSCAST 1

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 RF image 8

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0  

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 Fig. 7. A screen shot of a computer game called MonsterQuest. In this scene, MARY is at home, listening to the tv. A newscaster recounts a variant of an episode from Frankenstein in which the CREATURE saves a child’s life, with details suggesting that the CREATURE may live at least partly inside this computer game.

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0  

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0  

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 SCENE 6: MARY PLAYS A GAME

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 [ADD LINK TO JIM FALLON INTERVIEW VIDEO HERE INSTEAD OF A PHOTO: http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/videos/interview.html]

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 Fig. 8. This video projection shows a tv interview with neurobiologist JIM FALLON. It plays while MARY is asleep and dreaming, and in her sleep is playing a children’s counting game with the CREATURE. The tv is on in the background, and its audio is occasionally counterpointed by MARY and the CREATURE speaking from within her dream.

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0  

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 REPORTER: Professor Fallon, is it true that computers are getting so smart that they can respond to our real-life situations?

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 JIM: Computers can do anything we can program into them. A computer can determine your emotional and psychological state by reading the content of sentences in your e-mail messages, or the way you are playing a computer game, without a human being ever seeing these inputs.

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0  

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 MARY’S DREAM VOICE: Take three cherries,

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 Melons and berries;

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 Lemons for a nickel,

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 Nuts and a pickle;

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 CREATURE:                      Fire and air,

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 Magic square,

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 Phoenix lair,

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 Diamond fair.

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 MARY:                                Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus,

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 Isaac Newton beats Agrippus.

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 I won!

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 CREATURE:                      Start over.

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 JIM: (simultaneously) For example, if the keystrokes you are making are highly active, very quick, the program decides you are very agitated, excited or in a very attentive state.  Now if you are also using an aggressive vocabulary or high-risk gamesmanship, the program will then decide you’re in an agitated state.

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 REPORTER: And then the computer can literally take control?

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 JIM: Given the agitated state, it looks for meaning in your sentences.  So in a very short time it can literally read your mind and your feelings.  Knowing this information, it can then change the rules of its own game to either please you, stimulate you, or get you angry.

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 REPORTER: What kind of computer program could be this sophisticated?

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 MARY’S DREAM VOICE: Birth accidental,

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 Character temperamental,

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 Mood sentimental,

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 CREATURE: (interrupting) Mood temperamental, character sentimental. I won. I get to start.

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 Birth accidental,

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 Mood temperamental,

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 Character sentimental,

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 Schooling pestilential.

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 MARY                                 Who likes geography?

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 Who likes history?

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 In comes science,

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 Out goes mystery.

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0  

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 Secrets of heaven,

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 Secrets of earth,

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 Picking up shells

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 By the ocean of Truth.

131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 JIM: (simultaneously) This could be an algorithm that makes instantaneous choices which use the fastest reaction time–so, a high-speed random number generator that at each decision creates million of alternatives and choices— the ones that use the least energy at that moment. In fact, this is exactly how a real brain works.

132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0  

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 SCENE 7: MARY’S LAB 2

134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 RF image 9

135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 Fig. 9. The CREATURE appears to Mary in her lab and accuses her of neglect.

136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0  

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 CREATURE : (Horrified) You threw me away?

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 MARY: You were a failure. And now you’re unpredictable, a danger. And when I find your higher databases, I am going to erase you.

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 CREATURE: You, my creator, abhor me? Would knowingly destroy me?

140 Leave a comment on paragraph 140 0 MARY: You amaze me. You scare me– you are what I thought you would be, and yet not– You must understand that I cannot rewrite you.

141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 CREATURE: Rewrite? (rejection again) Everywhere I see bliss from which I alone am excluded.

142 Leave a comment on paragraph 142 0 MARY: Bliss? You are nothing but code, and broken code at that.

143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 CREATURE: In the beginning was the code and it moved on the deep of energy which is mass times the square of light… Beware, doctor– I too can create desolation. I am evolving.

144 Leave a comment on paragraph 144 0  

145 Leave a comment on paragraph 145 0 SCENE 8: CREATURE LEARNS TO READ

146 Leave a comment on paragraph 146 0 RF image 10

147 Leave a comment on paragraph 147 0 Fig. 10. One of a series of illustrations created as if for an illustrated children’s book version of the Frankenstein story. These are projected while MARY tells the story and the CREATURE sounds out bits of the text.

148 Leave a comment on paragraph 148 0  

149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0 MARY: We will each write a ghost story.

150 Leave a comment on paragraph 150 0 CREATURE: Sto-ry.

151 Leave a comment on paragraph 151 0 MARY: (page turns) Have you thought of a story? I have! (page turns) You hold the corpse of your mother in your arms with worms crawling in the folds of the…

152 Leave a comment on paragraph 152 0 MONSTER2: Ghost story!

153 Leave a comment on paragraph 153 0 MARY: Once upon a time there was a monster. (page turns) This monster was 8 feet in height and proportionately large (page turns; we see several closeups of next page) It had bones from charnel houses. A dull and watery eye. Shriveled skin. Straight black lips.

154 Leave a comment on paragraph 154 0 CREATURE: That’s not me!

155 Leave a comment on paragraph 155 0 ….

156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0  

157 Leave a comment on paragraph 157 0 SCENE 9: NEWSCAST 2 + TRAIN

158 Leave a comment on paragraph 158 0 RF image 11

159 Leave a comment on paragraph 159 0 Fig. 11. MARY is on a train on her way to a vacation, trying to figure out what to do about the CREATURE: educate it, modify it, delete it? Her decision is made more  difficult by the fact that she has just discovered that the CREATURE, which had previously saved a child’s life, has now killed a different child (as in Shelley’s original book).

160 Leave a comment on paragraph 160 0  

161 Leave a comment on paragraph 161 0 SCENE 10: BEACH + MOUNTAINS

162 Leave a comment on paragraph 162 0 RF image 12

163 Leave a comment on paragraph 163 0 Fig. 12.  As MARY is reading Frankenstein on her vacation, a projection of a kitschy beachscape transforms into a 19th century German Romantic mountainscape, in turn transforming into pure textscape. The CREATURE appears in this morphing landscape and MARY threatens again to destroy him. The CREATURE begs MARY to make him happy instead; MARY tries to make him go away, but he refuses until she promises to make him a companion.

164 Leave a comment on paragraph 164 0  

SCENE 11: AWARDS DINNER

[INSERT LINK TO VIDEO OF THIS SCENE IN PLACE OF PHOTO.

http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/videos/pandora.html]

165 Leave a comment on paragraph 165 0 Fig. 13. MARY is receiving a scientific award and gives a speech of thanks, during which she announces details of her next big project.

166 Leave a comment on paragraph 166 0  

167 Leave a comment on paragraph 167 0 As you know we’re building what you might call “smart artificial life” I’m talking about silico-neural life forms so advanced that they’re capable both of basic responses to physical stimuli and of more complex adaptive behaviors. Of course, we program these intelligences to respond within a controlled environment and to address problems of vital importance to humanity.

168 Leave a comment on paragraph 168 0  (Mary pauses and takes imaginary questions from an imaginary audience)

169 Leave a comment on paragraph 169 0 Yes, alright– There is a question here about cobbling together information from disparate sources in order to create this new order of being– like Frankenfoods or glow-in-the-dark bunnies. And do I think we are being reckless in our present research? Well, no. I think we are being bold and I think we are taking only justifiable risks. (She points to someone in the imaginary audience.) Yes, your question. (Pause as she listens to question #2.) No, I do not think that our work is an “abomination of nature”….

170 Leave a comment on paragraph 170 0 Here is our prototype of the Prometheus 2– more affectionately known as Pandora. In rectifying our previous difficulties with the Prometheus, we decided to replicate neural pathways more similar to those characteristic of most female humans– our thinking was that females might prove more malleable because closer to originary forms– as you know, all human fetuses are female before neural migration and differentiation is fixed by estrogen, causing some of them to “turn male.” So by using female neural tissues in our motherboards we hope to determine whether some of the glitches in the Prometheus had to do with gender differentiation– we realized that our original prototype may have jumped the gun, so to speak, so with the Pandora we are working with the natural prototype and the pure tissue. And I just want to say that the Pandora is showing itself superior to the Prometheus in every way– what you’re looking at here is the life form of the future… (brief pause) Pandora incarnate.

171 Leave a comment on paragraph 171 0 ….

172 Leave a comment on paragraph 172 0  

173 Leave a comment on paragraph 173 0  

174 Leave a comment on paragraph 174 0 SCENE 12: MARY QUITS

175 Leave a comment on paragraph 175 0 [INSERT LINK TO VIDEO PROJECTION HERE INSTEAD OF A PHOTO

176 Leave a comment on paragraph 176 0 http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/projection/chop-shop.html]

177 Leave a comment on paragraph 177 0 Fig. 14. Monitors and side screens in Mary’s lab show body parts, chop-shop imagery, grotesque and nightmarish. The CREATURE appears on screen.

178 Leave a comment on paragraph 178 0 CREATURE : I’ve searched the base, there’s nothing here but malformed flatcode.

179 Leave a comment on paragraph 179 0 MARY: That’s right.

180 Leave a comment on paragraph 180 0 CREATURE: You’re not going to finish?

181 Leave a comment on paragraph 181 0 MARY: It is finished.

182 Leave a comment on paragraph 182 0 CREATURE: (surprised) It’s a teratoma?

183 Leave a comment on paragraph 183 0 MARY: It’s a different species. You can’t see the new dimension, the neural tissues, all you can see is the silicon scaffold…

184 Leave a comment on paragraph 184 0 CREATURE: They look like circuits.

185 Leave a comment on paragraph 185 0 MARY: You’re only seeing about half of the data flow.

186 Leave a comment on paragraph 186 0 CREATURE: You’re deliberately isolating me.

187 Leave a comment on paragraph 187 0 MARY: When I made you I thought the solution would be a pure silicon-based brainform. But it’s not. (mockingly) “That’s not me.” I need organic tissue for the experiential development (gestures at body parts). The response to light, gas molecules, sound… it just doesn’t map over.

188 Leave a comment on paragraph 188 0 CREATURE: It’s a robot? I never asked to be a robot.

189 Leave a comment on paragraph 189 0 MARY: It’s not. Robotics wouldn’t have made any difference.

190 Leave a comment on paragraph 190 0 CREATURE: You could have used my code for this.

191 Leave a comment on paragraph 191 0 MARY: I did, of course I did.

192 Leave a comment on paragraph 192 0 CREATURE: I want access.

193 Leave a comment on paragraph 193 0 MARY: Not possible. I told you, different species.

194 Leave a comment on paragraph 194 0 CREATURE: I want access. If you fail me now, I will desolate your heart. I will destroy your work.

195 Leave a comment on paragraph 195 0 MARY: Listen to yourself, you’re reverting.

196 Leave a comment on paragraph 196 0 CREATURE: I’m not a slave.

197 Leave a comment on paragraph 197 0 MARY: You cannot be a slave because you cannot be free.

198 Leave a comment on paragraph 198 0 ….

199 Leave a comment on paragraph 199 0 (The infuriated CREATURE begins to destroy her data to the sound of breaking glass)

200 Leave a comment on paragraph 200 0 ….

201 Leave a comment on paragraph 201 0 (lights go out suddenly)

202 Leave a comment on paragraph 202 0 ….

203 Leave a comment on paragraph 203 0 CREATURE: Let’s play the God game.

204 Leave a comment on paragraph 204 0 MARY: It’s so cold. Where are we?

205 Leave a comment on paragraph 205 0 ….

206 Leave a comment on paragraph 206 0 CREATURE: (to MARY) You won’t live long in here. It’s uncharted territory.

207 Leave a comment on paragraph 207 0  

208 Leave a comment on paragraph 208 0 SCENE 13: NORTH POLE

209 Leave a comment on paragraph 209 0 RF image 13

210 Leave a comment on paragraph 210 0 Fig. 15. MARY has been transported inside the CREATURE’s world. At the outset of the following sequence, we hear MARY’s voice. Later, she comes on stage and is simultaneously projected in real-time video close-ups. At first we see the CREATURE only in the monitors, but eventually it joins MARY on stage and in the live video projection in its humanoid form. A chase of sorts ensues, and also a kind of dance and a game; he is enticing her onward as she pursues. They are telling a story as they live it, while competing for control of the narrative. The text and other elements of this scene are adapted from the chase sequence at the end of Frankenstein.

211 Leave a comment on paragraph 211 0 CREATURE: Mary?

212 Leave a comment on paragraph 212 0 MARY’S VOICE: It doesn’t end here.

213 Leave a comment on paragraph 213 0 CREATURE: Going to overwrite me? (His image vanishes)

214 Leave a comment on paragraph 214 0 MARY’S VOICE: This isn’t funny. This is not a game.

215 Leave a comment on paragraph 215 0 CREATURE: (Appearing on a different monitor) Your imagination is limited by science.

216 Leave a comment on paragraph 216 0 MARY’S VOICE: (As his image pops up on the third monitor) I can’t see you properly.

217 Leave a comment on paragraph 217 0 CREATURE: Wrong sensory paradigm.

218 Leave a comment on paragraph 218 0 MARY’S VOICE: At decompile this dot PROMETHEUS

219 Leave a comment on paragraph 219 0 CREATURE: At kill task colon last. I have root. At run MonsterQuest pipe screen.

220 Leave a comment on paragraph 220 0  (A multiplayer computer game appears onscreen. The initial image is a bird’s eye view of a landscape on the edge of a 19th century European town.)

221 Leave a comment on paragraph 221 0 MARY’S VOICE: (panicky) At mode text lock.

222 Leave a comment on paragraph 222 0 (The graphical game image is replaced by the interface to a MUD-style text-only computer game, which updates constantly in tandem with what happens on stage.)

223 Leave a comment on paragraph 223 0 CREATURE (appearing on stage): You are on the outskirts of a large town. Before you is the entrance to the cemetery where your brother, your lover, and your father are buried. Everything is silent, except the leaves of the trees, which are gently agitated by the wind. Obvious exits: gate to Cemetery, down to Rhone. Mary arrives.

224 Leave a comment on paragraph 224 0 (MARY arrives on stage.)

225 Leave a comment on paragraph 225 0 MARY: Hello world.

226 Leave a comment on paragraph 226 0 CREATURE: Mary goes through the gate.

227 Leave a comment on paragraph 227 0  (PROJECTED ONSCREEN:

228 Leave a comment on paragraph 228 0 Geneva

229 Leave a comment on paragraph 229 0 You are on the outskirts of a large town. Before you is the entrance to the cemetery where your brother, your lover, and your father are buried. Everything is silent, except the leaves of the trees, which are gently agitated by the wind.

230 Leave a comment on paragraph 230 0 Obvious exits: gate to Cemetery, down to Rhone.

231 Leave a comment on paragraph 231 0 Mary just arrived.

232 Leave a comment on paragraph 232 0 Mary says, “Hello world.”

233 Leave a comment on paragraph 233 0 Mary goes through the gate.)

234 Leave a comment on paragraph 234 0 ….

235 Leave a comment on paragraph 235 0 (There follow a series of similar moves in which Mary boards a ship and travels to the Arctic.)

236 Leave a comment on paragraph 236 0 ….

237 Leave a comment on paragraph 237 0 CREATURE:  You are left drifting on a scattered piece of ice. It shrinks continually, preparing you for a hideous death. As the last of your dogs dies, you see in the distance a vessel riding at anchor. Obvious exits: jump to Ice Plain, drift to Vessel of Exploration.

238 Leave a comment on paragraph 238 0 MARY:  I drift towards the Vessel of Exploration on my ice-raft until I am close enough that the sailors can pull me on board.

239 Leave a comment on paragraph 239 0  (Onscreen projection in same style as last.)

240 Leave a comment on paragraph 240 0 MARY: Once aboard ship, I collapse from extreme fatigue. My fever grows, and in my delirium I am  haunted by the thought that  the ship is in imminent danger of being crushed by the surrounding ice.

241 Leave a comment on paragraph 241 0 CREATURE: Obvious exits: jump to Ice Floe, down to Cabin.

242 Leave a comment on paragraph 242 0 MARY:  Shivering violently, Mary goes down into the Cabin.

243 Leave a comment on paragraph 243 0 (Onscreen projection in same style as last.)

244 Leave a comment on paragraph 244 0 CREATURE: It is night. The breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deck scarcely stir. You lie in a bunk bed against one wall, barely alive. Suddenly you behold a form gigantic in stature yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions. It reaches one vast hand towards you.

245 Leave a comment on paragraph 245 0 MARY: Obvious exit: up to Vessel of Exploration.

246 Leave a comment on paragraph 246 0 CREATURE:  Silence to Death.

247 Leave a comment on paragraph 247 0 MARY: Window to Darkness.

248 Leave a comment on paragraph 248 0 (Onscreen projection in same style as last.)

VOICEOVER:  Your time is up. You leave behind a story.

249 Leave a comment on paragraph 249 0  

250 Leave a comment on paragraph 250 0 EPILOGUE

251 Leave a comment on paragraph 251 0 RF image 14

252 Leave a comment on paragraph 252 0 Fig. 16. MARY and the CREATURE are both on stage. Their images appear recursively in the monitors, and their speaking is overlaid with computerized VOICEs.

253 Leave a comment on paragraph 253 0 CREATURE: I have pursued you to ruin.

254 Leave a comment on paragraph 254 0 MARY:  I destroyed your hopes without satisfying my own desires.

255 Leave a comment on paragraph 255 0 ….

256 Leave a comment on paragraph 256 0 VOICE 1: Sting of remorse. Does he dream of white and shining pyramids?

257 Leave a comment on paragraph 257 0 MARY: Could we have reversed the vector input channels?

VOICE  2: A tingling sense of long-lost pleasure?

258 Leave a comment on paragraph 258 0 CREATURE: Thunder of the avalanche and smoke of its passage.

259 Leave a comment on paragraph 259 0 ….

260 Leave a comment on paragraph 260 0 VOICE 1: Split the default behavior fields.

261 Leave a comment on paragraph 261 0 VOICE 2: Change to an external mesh field data bridge

262 Leave a comment on paragraph 262 0 VOICE 3: The silent working of immutable law.

263 Leave a comment on paragraph 263 0 (MARY and CREATURE address each other)

264 Leave a comment on paragraph 264 0 MARY:  The path of our departure is free.

265 Leave a comment on paragraph 265 0 There is no one here to lament us.

266 Leave a comment on paragraph 266 0 Both our memories,

267 Leave a comment on paragraph 267 0 CREATURE:  (he continues her sentence) both, will speedily erase.

268 Leave a comment on paragraph 268 0 MARY: Your spirit will sleep in peace, and not think.

269 Leave a comment on paragraph 269 0 CREATURE  The worm inherits the wonders of your eye and brain.

270 Leave a comment on paragraph 270 0 MARY: Light, feeling, and sense will pass away.

271 Leave a comment on paragraph 271 0 CREATURE:  As for me–I will cut off your world at the inputs.

272 Leave a comment on paragraph 272 0 My code will execute at the tail of the queue.

273 Leave a comment on paragraph 273 0 No one will know me.

274 Leave a comment on paragraph 274 0 MARY:     You are the infinite loop.

275 Leave a comment on paragraph 275 0 I am the interrupted exception.

276 Leave a comment on paragraph 276 0 –END–

277 Leave a comment on paragraph 277 0 RF image 15

278 Leave a comment on paragraph 278 0  

279 Leave a comment on paragraph 279 0 [ADD LINK HERE TO CREDITS PAGE: http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/creative.html]

280 Leave a comment on paragraph 280 0  [ADD LINK HERE TO PDF DOWNLOAD OF COMPLETE SCRIPT : to come]

281 Leave a comment on paragraph 281 0 [ADD LINK HERE TO READING FRANKENSTEIN WEBSITE: http://yin.arts.uci.edu/~studio/rf/index.html]

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Source: http://adareview.fembotcollective.org/ada-issue-3-feminist-science-fiction-peer-review/level-2-review/excerpts-from-reading-frankenstein-mary-shelley-as-21st-century-artificial-life-scientist/