Hello Hi There2010

Hello Hi There uses the famous television debate between the philosopher Michel Foucault and linguist/activist Noam Chomsky from the Seventies as inspiration and material for a dialogue between two custom-designed chatbots: every evening, these computer programs, designed to mimic human conversations, perform a new – as it were, improvised – live text.

Can you call it a play when two Macbooks are the actors? This unusual performance by NY-based director Annie Dorsen illustrates the extent to which a human can be replaced by a computer. The machines debate human nature and the various facets of human intelligence in a conversation based on the famous discussion from the 1970s between Micheal Foucault and Noam Chomksy. Dorsen uses this material, along with additional text culled from YouTube, the Bible, Shakespeare, the big hits of western philosophy and other sources, to construct computer programs which create a new, “improvised,” dialogue. What does humanism, and the belief in human virtuosity, mean when machines and artificial intelligence are able to so easily outdo us? Can something worthwhile come out of the reflections of two computers? Hello Hi There is an intelligent, sometimes scary, creative and humorous dialogue about humanity in the age of its digital reproduction.

ARTISTIC TEAM

concept/direction
Annie Dorsen
production design
Kate Howard
systems design
Jeff Gray
scenography and lighting design
Edward Pierce
chatbot software design
Robby Garner
consultation
Nicolas Siepen and Berno Odo Polzer
assistance
Stephen Brackett
technical management
Cyd Cahill
original producer
Lisa Schmidt
management/production
Natasha Katerinopoulos
photo by W Silveri
photo by W Silveri
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PRESS

"Hello Hi There is one of those profoundly original performances that, while straightaway breaking with certain conventions of theatre, manages to nourish the definition of it....Hello Hi There creates a paradigm shift."

Marion Siéfert,
La Souffleur
"Annie Dorsen’s brilliantly conceived Hello Hi There pits two chatbots—robots without physical bodies—against each other in a highly ironic contest of wits... This is not just more digital formalism onstage: Hello Hi There is a genuine experiment with many currents coursing through its post-Socratic dialogue. By putting her bots center stage, Dorsen generates rare intellectual stimulation for the downtown performance world—humans beware."

Tom Seller,
The Village Voice
"Dead doesn’t necessarily mean as a dodo, however. That’s the message suggested by the two chatbots (talking computer programs) in Annie Dorsen’s brilliant stage play Hello Hi There, premiered at the Steirischer Herbst. Amazingly, there are no live performers; the American director allows her two bots to philosophise about a discussion which took place between the philosophers Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky. The dialogue, generated by algorithms, is sometimes truly ludicrous -- fundamentally, though, it’s extremely sinister."

Helmut Ploebst,
Der Standard