Dramaturgy over-easy: influences on REMOTE (and good eggs)

As we’re about to enter the final week of a kickstarter campaign to help fund our forthcoming production of REMOTE, Tassos Stevens is writing a series of posts about the making of the piece. Previously, how it developed. But to accompany a post on starting points, here’s one on some of the influences in the making. And good eggs.

None of this is real – a visualisation of The Shard plus ghosts, from James Bridle’s Render Ghosts set

James Bridle is a remarkable artist, writer and activist, hacking at the intersection of technology and politics, making tangible their invisible consequences. He’s also taken a vital role in the development of REMOTE – mostly from a seat in Cafe Zed in Stoke Newington as we’re both a bit obsessed with their menemen – leading me through the digital landscape. A kind of consultant dramaturg, over eggs.

You should check out James’ work online. Both Drone Shadows and Dronestagram animated the presence and impact of drones. I loved his failed quest to find the home of Render Ghosts, the people digitally copied and pasted into the crowds you can see on most billboards, a story told beautifully here.

But right now I keep coming back to his essay on the New Aesthetic, and its drive to see the products of technology not based on “what they look like, but how they came to be and what they become… the biases and articulations of disposition and intent encoded in all of these things.”

Or… why did it develop? how does it play?

Plenty more good eggs have given brilliantly useful starting points for REMOTE. Here are two.

Matthew Hawn is a technologist who’s been working in digital media since literally the dawn of the internet. He was living and working in San Francisco when the first internet startups exploded. We had a fantastic chat over a gallon of coffee about his experience of the early internet and how everything shifted from utopianism when the venture capitalists landed in 1997. Basically, it’s always been all about the money.

The catchphrase of the fictional algorithm in REMOTE is “we are here to help you be more like people like you”. Aleks Krotoski is a digital broadcaster and a social psychologist, who inspired me to try following ‘people not like you’ on twitter as a conscious attempt to break its echo chamber. You should do this too. Find at least three people who tweet regularly and have a totally different position or worldview to you. And follow them, not despite but especially when they are annoying.

And it’s been spooky to be in the thick of finishing this piece and having the spate of ‘the machines are/aren’t taking over’ articles following the algorithms of AlphaGo’s triumph over a human champion of Go, just about the hardest game there is.

But for all that REMOTE is in part about our relationship with technology, like all theatre it’s really about people (people like you). And all the technology you have to play with is simply a blank white card, and deliberately no more…

Please support our kickstarter for REMOTE, by pledging anything you can afford – and a measly tenner gets you a game you can play online on a device as an entrance into the world of REMOTE – or by simply spreading the word.


Thanks for being here.

REMOTE played in development at Theatre in The Mill, Bradford on 17 and 18 March, and opens at Camden People’s Theatre from 19 – 30 April.

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