A Randomly Generated Collective Story from Crowd-Sourced Content. By Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer

Good Design Award Winner [2018]

Premier’s Design Award WINNER [2017]

ACT Festival, Asia Culture Center, SOUTH KOREA, October-November [2016]

Geelong After Dark Festival, AUSTRALIA, May [2017]

Glen Eira Storytelling Festival, AUSTRALIA, June-July [2018]

THE STORYTELLING MACHINE is an interactive art installation by PluginHUMAN. The machine instantly transforms the public’s drawings into animated characters that roam the artwork’s video worlds. This artwork delivers a randomly generated collective story created from crowd-sourced content.

People of all ages can draw characters of any shape and feed them into the machine. The machine instantly animates the characters and decides their path across video settings that feature international locations. The public can also contribute short story texts in any language. The Storytelling Machine randomly displays peoples’ drawings and story texts, consequently each exhibition experience is unique.

The machine determines what combination of characters and texts are shown. In effect it delivers a collective story;  a collision of different people’s characters and short texts that come together to form a disjointed contemporary narrative. In many ways social media has become society’s dominant narrative. Social platforms often dictate how we write, publish and consume our stories. The Storytelling Machine reflects practices used in social media. As soon as audiences enter their character and text into the machine, they relinquish control over them. The machine determines the narrative.

The Storytelling Machine is a unique system created in TouchDesigner. It generates real-time graphics across a series of screens.

PluginHUMAN - Storytelling Machine, participatory art, interactive art. Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer.


The Storytelling Machine: A Playful Participatory Automated System Featuring Crowd-Sourced Story Content


Betty Sargeant ~ Artist, creative director, producer

Justin Dwyer ~ Artist (projection mapping), programmer

Andrew Ogburn ~ Music Composer

Peter Walker ~ Creative Coder

The Storytelling Machine, Gwangju exhibition was co-produced under sponsorship from the Asia Culture Centre and the ACI.


The development of The Storytelling Machine was supported by the City of Melbourne; the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund; and the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund.

Thanks to: Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and the Exertion Games LabRMIT University.

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PluginHUMAN: Justin Dwyer and Betty Sargeant.


PluginHUMAN is a multi-award-winning art duo led by Dr Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer. PluginHUMAN are at the progressive edge of their field, providing audiences with new cultural, environmental and scientific perspectives. Their artworks address the leading questions and concerns of our times.

PluginHUMAN’s real time art centres around the art of illumination. They create projection mapping, video artworks, and led immersive multi-sensory environments. They use the medium of light to translate complex data into meaningful audience experiences.

PluginHUMAN has created commissioned artworks for institutions such as the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan), the Asia Culture Centre (South Korea), Questacon (Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre), the Melbourne Museum (White Night Festival, Australia) and Experimenta (Australian triennial touring media art exhibition). They have exhibited in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. PluginHUMAN were awarded the Rupert Bunny Foundation Visual Art Fellowship (2019/20); they’re developing new carbon neutral and carbon negative materials and working methods. They have also won Good Design Awards (2020 and 2018), and a Victorian Premier’s Design Award (2017).

PluginHUMAN has an acute understanding of the role that technology plays in contemporary society. They reimagine new technologies to produce artistic innovations, creating meaningful large and small scale audience experiences for indoor spaces and outdoor public arenas. They specialise in immersive and interactive art environments.


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