Death and the Powers

Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant is an opera developed at the MIT Media Lab and premiered in Monaco in 2010. It touches on the profound questions of what happens when we die and what we can leave behind for our loved ones and the world. The story focuses on a family coping with the passing of their eccentric patriarch, Simon Powers, who created a means to allow his legacy and essence to persist and be preserved.

My responsibilities on the project are manifold, including working closely with Composer and Creative Director Tod Machover, Director Diane Paulus, and Production Designer Alex McDowell to help realize and promote their creative vision while collaborating with and supervising the numerous teams of engineers and production personnel contributing to the project. The bulk of my work has been the development of the technique of Disembodied Performance and The System, which, in the world of the story, is the elaborate means by which Simon continues to exist and interact after his death. The System incorporates most all of the set pieces in the opera, including animatronic, robotic, and visual elements. I designed the visual language that allows the character of Simon to have expressive presence in his new form. To this end, I developed show control software and solutions that unify the disparate set pieces and enable the dynamic control of imagery and robots for performance.