Puppet => Machine: The Next Generation Panel

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Pacific Ancient Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Panel Description:

Puppets tread the threshold between human and object. On the one hand, they can appear as ideal revisions of the human, on the other as profoundly inhuman entities, characterized by their impertinent refusal to obey human laws, whether of language, feeling, or even mortality. Puppets exist at the nexus of the conference theme: quotidian objects invested with a fantasy of animation, of interiority, of drives, and independent goal states.

Traditional puppets are invested with subjective force by the puppeteers who anticipate their needs of movement, perception, and character. The reality of synthetic personalities is a recent breakthrough, made possible by computing, networks, robotic techniques, power systems, and new environments best explored by machines. As a result of these new technologies, the umbilical connecting the object back to the human becomes increasingly remote. Accordingly, from clay figures with joints, circa 2000 BC, fictional puppets have evolved to include Asimov's "I' Robot", the droids of Star Wars, the animatronic shark in Jaws, the replicants of Blade Runner, the fabricants in Cloud Atlas, and the android Ava in Ex Machina. In real terms, robots (programmable puppets) do parkour, walk in forests, appear on late night talk shows, and dance among us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn3KWM1kuAw).

What is a puppet today and how might the spirit of puppetry evolve in the future? How has the illusion of an object come-to-life, once manipulated by means of a hand or rod or strings, migrated into machines operating other machines (as with puppets controlling other puppets)? How will current technical innovations contribute to expanding the scope of puppetry, as the relationship between puppet and puppeteer continues to be transformed by AI, robotics, and simulation models emulating the human?

This session invites meditations on the new intentions, possibilities, and methods of puppetry, as considered in animation, game design, VR, AI, algorithms, theories of personality, etc.

PAMLA’s annual in-person conference will convene at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) between Friday, November 11 and Sunday, November 13, 2022. 
Presentations with a visual/performance component are encouraged as well as papers with a connection to this year's theme ("Geographies of the Fantastic and Quotidian").

Please submit proposals by May 15, 2022. 
To submit a proposal, please use the following link (account creation required): https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/
We look forward to reading your proposals!

Graduate Student Scholarship Fund

Thanks to the generous donations of its members, PAMLA is able to offer a number of scholarships to select graduate students presenting papers at the annual conference. Applicants must be current members of PAMLA at the time of application.