Title: Frankenstein AI: a monster made by many

Status: In Development

Type of Project: installation and collaborative storytelling

My Role: Experience Designer and Creative Director

Project Description: Over the next two years Lance, Nick Fortugno and over 2,000 global collaborators will design, build and run an immersive adaption of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lance is leading the experience design and serving as the program’s creative director/producer. The goal of Frankenstein AI is to challenge the authorship and ownership of stories while also utilizing literature, story and code in an effort to better understand the challenges we face in the 21st Century. Together participants from around the globe will utilize AI, machine learning, robotics, bioengineering and the Internet of Things to create a monster made by many.

Official site: frankenstein.ai

Stats: This project is a prototype from the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab. To date a number of early prototypes of Frankenstein AI have been staged at Lincoln Center as well as SXSW.


Frankenstein AI: a monster made by many


“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


I’m so excited about Frankenstein AI I can barely contain myself. Last week at the Film Society of Lincoln Center we launched a prototype for Frankenstein AI, our newest immersive adaption. Over the next two years we’ll examine the themes within Shelley’s groundbreaking work, using them as a lens to explore our relationship to emergent technologies such as; artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things.

It’s gonna break

As people filtered into the auditorium I felt butterflies in my stomach. Nick Fortugno and I had gone over the plan for the prototype earlier in the day. We both expected the experience to break at numerous points, so I started the evening by stating that what we were attempting to do could fail at any time.

The questions driving our experimentation were total unknowns. Would a group of strangers be able to come together and educate an AI chatbot in 60 minutes? Would it be possible for participants to share emotions, memories, fears and hopes with a machine in a way that might fuel a compelling narrative?

A Monster Made of Many

In launching Frankenstein AI, we’re working to build on the legacy of our first immersive adaptation Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things. At the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, we explore new forms and functions of storytelling. In 2014, we launched Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things and over the course of the past 2 1/2 years, the program has grown to include over 2,500 collaborators from 60 countries. To date over a 150 self-organized events have been staged around the world. Storytellers, game designers, hackers, makers and students have gathered monthly to challenge the authorship and ownership of stories, while also examining the ethical and political implications of emergent technology.