The Institute for Interanimation is a space for research and artistic work focused on the interplay between new technologies and human experience. Currently, ii is exploring ways in which new digital technologies frame and influence liveness. ii was formed by Mona Kasra and Peter Bussigel at the University of Virginia in 2016 and it continues as a loose international collective of artists, builders, theorists, performers, and technologists. ii projects are called phases. There have been three phases so far and work has begun on phase 4.

Artistic + Research Statement

We find ourselves in a complex moment where the optimism surrounding digital technology which was prevalent in the 1980s and again during the dot com era has been appropriated by the control structures of late capitalism. The promise of free thought, anonymity, and fluid identity in the virtual realm has become a complex tangle of surveillance, data mining, trolling, and gatekeeping. As technologists and artists, how can we continue to explore the potential of the digital realm for social and political change while not simultaneously being instrumentalized in the spectacle of Silicon Valley idealism?

The Institute for Interanimation (ii) is an attempt to play into this very tension, to build work into the rift between technophilia and technophobia. Created to support systems that are ambiguous, complicated, and difficult, ii builds environments through which people can examine what role they are comfortable performing in this ubiquitous technoculture.   

Interanimation navigates the unpredictable and forever shifting thresholds between real and virtual life, and the confusions generated by these overlapping modes of liveness.

Here, the word ‘live’ has a double meaning—“live” as in to be alive and to be performing live. Today’s new media technologies urge us to reconsider both meanings. Immersive technologies, surveillance media, and new sensing systems not only shift our performance stages but they also continually affect what it means to be human, framing how we think and act. New media installation and performance are adept at exploring the intersections and overlaps between these modes of liveness, combining technological perspectives (A.I., virtual reality, augmented life) and cultural perspectives (community, poetics, entertainment).

Merriam Webster defines “interanimate” as “to animate mutually,” and that simple definition guides our thinking and making. In a concrete sense, interanimation happens when multiple bodies are in-motion together—human bodies, virtual bodies, technological bodies. It appeals to a continual shifting or reconsideration (of identity, of a ‘piece’, of value systems in general). In creating new tools and technical systems, we change, and as we change, our tools and systems evolve and transform as well. The Institute for Interanimation seeks to foreground this change, to embrace the mutual animation between the performer and instrument, user and interface, human and institute.

The notion of animation has embedded within it a similar tension. We can think about animation in this technical sense—the emergence of motion over time through a sequence of still images or frames. But we can also consider animation in a poetic sense, animating as the act or process of bringing to life, creating movement not as simply a useful effect, but as a vital mode of expression. Animation is an ideal tool for examining the double nature of (a)liveness, and it is also useful in thinking about the interfaces and objects we produce.