The language used in each of the two cases described is apparently different, since in the first we are talking about construction, material properties and design parameters, and in the second it is all about dramaturgy, choreography and symbolism. If we were to forget, though, for a moment the disciplinary realms in which these actor-based performances are positioned as well as their symbolisms and intentions, would it be easy to say that they have nothing in common?
It is clear that their main difference lays in the intention behind them. The research at the ETH is meant to develop a whole new digital building culture, and as such it “uses” robotic agents in order to facilitate processes that would not be possible otherwise. The Station Opera House aims at creating art works that act as “temporary monuments” with symbolical implications. We already saw, however, that in both cases there is a systemic form imposed on the actors and materials, which changes the order of facts. It may be “programming” in one case and “a series of movements acting as a langue” in the other, but essentially it defines the way the agents of each performance act upon/towards the material components of the performance.
In this frame of mind, could the architectural installations of the ETH group be considered as works of art or are they considered as a series of live performances on how materiality can be created without humans, since the human actors are only present through their complete absence? Is R.O.B., or any of those robots, essentially the creator of the structures?
How would it be to see the Salisbury Proverbs performed by robots? Would the performance then be considered an artwork? Would it be possible for a performance director to orchestrate an operatic work by means of the highly automated processes used at the ETH, in such a way that he would ensure maximum randomness in the performance?