University of Sussex

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Theater and ALife Art: modeling Open and closed systems

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 21:50 authored by Sally Jane Norman
The live art of theatre remains curiously missing from a-life art history, despite the fact that its very exi¬¬¬stence is poised on the cusp of the living and the artificial, and on the modeling of life as artefact - what can be called the containment-versus-continuity dilemma. How far one seeks to affirm autonomy of the creative art work or, conversely, how far one seeks to affirm its continuity with its supposed real life contexts is a question that has forever haunted theatre, and that has naturally come to haunt a-life and a-life arts. Investigation of the boundary separating observers from modeled systems is as core to research into the live art of theatre as to a-life research. This brief text seeks to open up discussion on links between a-life, a-life art, and the live art of theatre, through key thematic threads that traverse these domains: their modeling of universes, the open- and closed nature of the resultant modeled systems and their implications with respect to observers, definitions and instantiations of life regarding non-life or death, and attributions of liveness to emergent synthetic biology and metamaterials.


Publication status

  • Published


Artificial Life




Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Music Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Sussex Humanities Lab Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date