“Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human” (2020-2023) explores the impact of the Internet, robots, and AI on human relationships, as well as the meaningful integration of these technologies into the arts. Thematically, we will look at the emergence of social robots as companions for the elderly in relation to migration and loneliness. Through telematic theatre and interactive digital art, we aim to consolidate the abilities of artists, culture professionals, technologists, and researchers to engage critically with new media. In addition, the project is meant to open the debate about the future and ethics of human-robot interaction to the larger audience. 

Young and elderly public from Romania, Spain, and Italy will be invited to participate in creative workshops led by a team of theatre and digital animation artists, as well as experts in ethics and robotics. The public will imagine models for social robots, their code of ethics, personality traits, and appearance. These will later be brought to life by artists and technical experts as interactive, AI-infused 3D models, available in four languages on an online platform. 

Next, we will develop a telematic theatre performance that will take place simultaneously in Romania and Italy, in two theatre studios connected via Internet video-conferencing. The story will follow the relationship between an elderly mother in Romania, her robot companion, and her daughter in Italy, and will be based on interviews with migrants and left-behind elderly parents in Romania. Taking inspiration from the models imagined by the public, we will build a robot that will function as a digital puppet controlled by an actress. 

Read the project description on the Creative Europe Project Results Platform.