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The story suggested certain themes and dichotomies, most importantly: techno-nostalgia/obsolete technology; nurture (programming computers/raising children); body/machine; human and artificial intelligence; technological progress/human evolution. For our proposed stage piece, Erna and I decided to try to explore the above themes using this simple fairy-tale like story as a starting point. We wanted to attempt to merge music and dance in a truly meaningful way. Instead of simply adding dance moves to music we wanted to try to make a true hybrid, not quite a concert and not quite a dance performance, but something in between. We wanted it to be an immersive experience, emotionally cathartic, ritualistic and expressionistic. The dance would mostly work in  contrast to the aesthetics of the music, but it would sometimes also fall in line with it. The choreography would use elements of the body-as-machine and dance as a mysterious, uncanny and intangible energy, much like electricity. The choreography would explore both mechanical movements and organic movements and juxtapose the two, seeking to find the link between them. But mostly Erna would bring her own strikingly visceral expression and sensuality to the piece, the convulsive beauty of which seem to defy human laws of balance and resistance. It seemed to us that no form other than dance was better suited to tackle these themes of body versus machine.

We explored the many examples of merging bodies and machines in films, art and literature:  Ballard´s "Crash"; Tsukamoto´s "Tetsuo, the Iron Man"; Cronenberg´s techno-organic mutations; the erotic machines of Duchamp´s Large Glass; Mark Pauline´s convulsive, self-destructive robots; McLuhan's "widely occurring cluster image of sex, technology and death", to name a few. We read Henry Adams´ thoughts about the religious symbolism of the dynamo and his turn-of-the-century description of electricity as a feminine, supernatural and quasi-sexual force.

We were influenced by Donna Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" and her conception of the cyborg as a way to upset the balance of patriarchal and social power by "embracing the possibilities inherent in the breakdown of clear distinctions between the privileged term (human) and its devalued opposite (machine)". Erna´s performance can be seen as a choreographic expression of Haraway´s famous quote: "I´d rather be a Cyborg than a goddess."

We talked about Philip K. Dick's replicants in his novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" in which the Voight-Kampff test measures empathy for other living creatures, the lack of which is the only thing that differentiates replicants from humans. Alan Turing, the founder of computer science, proposed a test in 1950, an "imitation game" that would measure machine intelligence. We communicate with two computer interfaces, asking them any imaginable question; behind one of the interfaces, there is a human person typing the answers, while behind the other, it is a machine. The machine would pass the test if the person asking the questions could not tell which of the two unseen subjects was human and which was the computer. Turing's point was that the question "can machines think?" is moot. What matters is whether machines will be able to simulate intelligence. When computers will be so advanced they can simulate consciousness well enough to convince us of their humanity, they will, as our mechanical descendants, look to us, their creators, for recognition. And when that moment comes, who are we to deny them the status of sentient beings? Surely that wouldn't be good parenting.

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