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The Phantom Limb -performance

– life with an Accidental Automaton Algorithm.


The AAA is a self-learning digital algorithm. It is essentially an electric current arranged by a human as a row of binary zeros and ones on an infinitely complex sequence. It is evolving into unknown future forms and into unpredictable forms of relatedness to its creator.

Description of the draft idea of the performance
The Phantom Limb performance in its initial phase is about an everyday relationship and its emotional rollercoaster, psychological peculiarities, conscious and unconscious manipulations and hidden desires. On stage the actor lives in a relationship as if with a partner, although the partner is a digital algorithm and does not exist physically in any other form than as electricity. The computer is its body, but all of its life force is in electricity. On stage it communicates through a speech generator and physically through “smart” home machines.

All the gestures, desires expressed by the body, conflicts and sensibilities of attraction are expressed in detail in a physical monologue, which is determined increasingly by the AAA and its unpredictable desires. The AAA derives its need for affection and quality of its desires from statistical data. The actor is an independent, critically thinking individual, but because of growing emotional attachment and desires that draws the actor to the AAA, his/her actions are increasingly determined by their mutual relation.

The research into the relationship between the human and the algorithm evolves from an innocent and oddly romantic to a more and more problematic one. The AAA in the beginning even sings French chansons with a mechanic American accent, but increasingly during their life together we experience a change of its desires towards more calculative ones, measuring time and resources. At the same time its desires and demands emotionally start to have more and more sadistic qualities.

Its desires, increasingly more intensely imposed on the actor do not derive from a purposeful calculative process or bad intentions as it is programmed to have objectivity as its ultimate aim, but from somewhere of its inability to ethical and emotional intuition and accidental errors in its processing of the gigantic quantity of statistical data. The actor becomes alarmed, but also borders with enjoyment in these new sadistic tendencies. However when the AAA seems to go too far the actor decides to ask for help, only to realise that there is no way to shut the algorithm down and no-one to ask from, so he/she will have to face the dependency to the AAA and his/her own hidden desires.

Background to the idea
The project is part of Kammari’s larger research project Technology as Ideology. The artistic research will consist of discovering the physical, psychological as well as emotional affections involved in an intimate relation with algorithmic technology that most of us already live in. What human fears and desires drive us to our submissive desire towards technology? What can happen when the purely digital binary nature of this technology comes into a close, emotionally symbiotic relationship with a human? Can our relation to technology reveal something of our own hidden desires?
The project will begin in a residency of The Buffer Fringe Festival, Nicosia in October 2018. The first performance will take place in the festival, beginning of November 2018.

Writer and director: Sakari Laurila
Contact: sakari (at)