Research in Performance: Staging the Technological Present
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Algorithms a play by Indian Ensemble that used my research on platforms to build a framework and a methodology for scripting the personal narratives of platform drivers and cab-culture in Bengaluru.
As part of the larger Publics@IIHS series I hosted playwright Chanakya Vyas for a dramatized reading of his theatrical performance Algorithms. We were joined by
Algorithms is inspired from the life stories of migrant cab drivers who seem to drive a large part of the population in urban cities. The lure and appeal of the app-based economy drive the exodus of semi-skilled workers -from neighbouring towns and conventional jobs- leading to a new way of looking at the future of work in cities. The performance takes a closer peek into the lives of the drivers, who are as controlled by the app as the passengers and allows spectators to encounter this technology-mediated world in fragments and experience the impact that it has on privacy, freedom, choice and the human connection.
To tell the story of how technology impacts our everyday lives in the city, however, we must look to more creative mediums: the richness and diversity of theatre, science fiction and comics can help us explore technological futures through free and unencumbered imaginations.
Contemporary debates on social and economic life are rife with questions on how technology will shape the future. Where the internet’s presence once revolutionised how we connected with apps and smartphones, tomorrow it will be the robotic charm and anxieties of automation. Will technology free us from the drudgery of hard labour or will it end work and life as we know it?
Futures and their predictions require a retelling of the history of the present. This is especially true of how technology is fundamentally altering work and cities. So far, data scientists, academics and policy makers have had significant currency over technological forecasts. To tell the story of how technology impacts our everyday lives in the city, however, we must look to more creative mediums: the richness and diversity of theatre, science fiction and comics can help us explore technological futures through free and unencumbered imaginations.
Watch our talk here:
Stills from the Algorithms performance at Rangashankara, Bengaluru in 2018: