PE – context and versions


For interactive digital technology to be able to contribute to the making process of the Performing Arts in a constructive way it becomes apparent that the nature of the technology used needs to be attuned to the nature of a particular kind of rehearsal phase as explained in this text. Especially when the technology is complex like interactive real-time 3D-CGI , the technology needs to have attributes that are flexible in its connectivity and the interfaces are designed to be ready for improvisational creation processes.

In general terms these attributes are:

  • Accessible and user-friendly
  • Multi-medial and modular
  • Immediate and (re- / inter-) active
  • Flexible and adaptable

To make a system that would take into account these attributes we have started to build a prototype of an Performance Engine in several LAB phases. Each phase will conclude in a prototype that can be used in projects. Eventually this proces will lead to a better understanding on how to build such a system. By creating blueprints of the system and documenting its development proces we try to generate knowledge that is practical and useable for other people to develop their own additions to our setup or build their own system from scratch.

We by no means want to suggest that we are the first to try to develop technology for (Theatre) performance purposes. Please read the overview of some existing performance related interactive digital technology.


For the system to be able to posses the attributes mentioned above it needs to have a user-friendly graphical interface also known as a GUI (Graphical user interface). Because we know that artist who want to develop modules for our system we looked for an already user-friendly GUI-based software that enabled use to build the architecture without programming everything form scratch. We chose the software MaxMSP v5 for this reason. This software is NOT open-source however, for this we should have chosen the origin of MaxMSP called Pure Data (PD), this software however didn’t provide the essential GUI building properties that MaxMSP5 has.

On top of the already GUI based system of MaxMSP5 we designed an aditional GUI for the Statemachine and additional modules. Because each module is developed and designed by a different student the overal GUI logic is somewhat inconsistent. This is still a development issue for later builds. Our current priority is the stability of the system and its capability to function in a Performance LAB situation.


performanceengine_v03_juni2009-copy.pngThe Performance Engine is a work in progress. Our goal is to create a stable system and architecture for other people to play with and develop their own idea’s and modules. We are currently working with version 0.3. Have a look at our development history overview:

  • Performance Engine v0.3
    Go here to see a video presentation of the system!
    Our current version. Next to considerable bug-fixing and optimalisations we have added the following (additions to) modules:

    • Statemachine: redesign of the GUI, object based linking, IF/THEN statements, range modifiers.
    • Tracking engine: active region module, multiple camera stitching, better WI-mote GUI for PC.
    • 3D Engine: more solid communication with Statemachine, dynamic functions.
    • 4x 230V Electric switch controller
    • (NEW) Text Engine (Live typing or pre-recorded playback).
  • Performance Engine v0.2
    Have a look at our second blueprint of the system. This was the first blueprint actually build and tested. It introduces the idea of a Statemachine, Connection-patches and separate modules called Engines. V0.2 contains the following modules:

    • Statemachine.
    • Tracking-engine (optical Color-tracking, Reactivision, WII-mote).
    • 2D Engine (image and video).
    • 3D Engine (we are using Unity 3D).
    • Sound Engine (up to 6 speakers surround).
  • v2-tech-setup01-cropped.jpgPerformance Engine v0.1
    A first blueprint of a system designed to cooperate with the VGE (V2 Game-engine, developed by V2_lab). This blueprint was originally designed during the GAME/JAN project but was already designed for broader use.