Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Mass Communication and Media Arts


Spahr, Robert


Creating an emergent narrative or one which is not predetermined by the controlling figure of the game designer, but instead frees the audience to guide and control the story has been a major interest in the field game design studies of virtual world storytelling. “The Author Is Absent” is an art project that interprets an emergent narrative problem through the prism of performance arts, and mainly the happenings of Alan Kaprow. The following paper provides a theoretical groundwork and some historical examples of previous attempts in the same tradition. It then goes on to elucidate the formal aspects of the work, its mechanics and the results of several attempts at creating an emergent narrative. It traces the creative process that led to the creation of two events – “A Scene about a Drug Deal Gone Wrong” and “The Best Goddamn Art SIU Has to Offer”. Both of them were attempts at creating an environment that could serve as a framework in which an emergent narrative can occur in the interaction between performers and audience. It evaluates the end result of these events and proposes further steps that can be taken towards perfecting the form.