Staging Life: AI and Biotech in Art

This past March, Yvan Tina, the coordinator of the Creative Disturbance podcast project in the ArtSciLab, defended his dissertation at the School of Arts and Humanities of Aix-Marseille University in Aix-En-Provence. Yvan’s PhD program is very unique in the fact that it is a joint supervision thesis between Aix-Marseille University and UT Dallas under the direction of Professor Yannick Butel (Aix-Marseille University) and Roger Malina (UT Dallas).

Yvan presented his dissertation at Aix-Marseille University on March 16, 2018 about the use of artificial intelligence and biotechnology in art has led to a radical reformulation of theater as living performance. Below is his thesis abstract:

The use of artificial intelligence and biotechnology in art has led to a radical reformulation of theater as living performance. These technoscientific practices have displaced the subject of performance and produced various new discourses: In this study, I propose to make use of these discourses to expand the frame of theatricality to the realm of artificial life art. The displacements operated by means of theatricality in the artistic field are taking place both on the level of the artworks and the level of discourse.

In light of such operations, we see the potential of transformation relying on the use of these materials in theatrical aesthetics, as well as the obstacles found in them. Taking place between the arts and the technosciences, the study proves that the theatricality of technological works relies on the artifice of language.

The jury he presented to composed of Amos Fergombe (University d’Artois), Michael Osborne (Oregon State University), Roger Malina (UT Dallas) and Yannick Butel (Aix-Marseille University). He was awarded the title of Doctor in Performing Arts at the end of his defense.

The criteria and standards to start a PhD in France is much different than it is in the States and because of this there were a lot of administrative complexities dealing with Yvan’s PhD.

In France, it is a bottom-up system: You can only get accepted to the PhD program once you submit your proposal of your dissertation. In the US, you submit your proposal after taking doctoral exams and being admitted to the PhD program.

Because Yvan started his PhD in France then enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communications in 2014, it made things a bit more complicated. His PhD program at UT Dallas was different than in France and going through what he needed to be qualified was essential to his completion of his PhD.

Yvan is currently still conducting research at both universities and he plans on staying in Dallas this upcoming semester to work on the translation of his dissertation from French to English, take his doctoral exams, and redevelop the Metalife website so that it can be used as a research tool.