Authors: Goutham Dindukurthi, Cory Garfin, Carlos Hurtado, EJ Lee, Matt McLean, Kana Otaki, Francisco Souki
ToyBox Futuristi is a digital puppeteering toolkit created by a student team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (known from this point forward as ETC). The team took its inspiration from the work of Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero, in particular Balli Plastici, ‘the plastic dance’ he created in 1918.Depero’s marionettes encapsulate the Futurist ideal of machinery striving to break free of human control, a theme expanded upon by the use of contemporary technologies. The project was driven by two deliverables: the digital reimagining of Balli Plastici, a version of which was shown at the Performa 09 Arts Festival in New York City, and the development of ToyBox Futuristi, the puppetry software that enables users to create their own versions of the ballet. This paper will focus on the creation of ToyBox Futuristi, including how the creative team took inspiration from the work of Depero and the Futurists while simultaneously establishing a sense of style and functionality adapted to the digital age.