Manuel Flurin Hendry: The feeling machine

How do movie actors deal with emotions? And can artificial "intelligence" replace them? THE FEELING MACHINE is a scientific-artistic journey into the uncanny valley of digital ghosts.

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Faces from a research photo set (© Paul Ekman)

Computer pioneer Marvin Minsky stated soberly: "The question is not whether intelligent machines can have any emotions, but whether machines can be intelligent without any emotions."

Against this background, MIT professor Rosalind Picard developed the research field of affective computing: an effort to teach computers to read and feel emotions. But despite the enormous success of machine learning in other fields, we have not yet succeeded in building emotionally intelligent machines. Why?

In my dissertation, I compare the simulation of feelings in computers with the simulation of feelings by actors according to the method of Konstantin Stanislavskij ("Method Acting"). Why has Stanislavsky's method been able to establish itself as the gold standard of film acting? And what could computer research learn from it?

Finally, in a cyberspace installation, I recreate Picard and Stanislavskij as digital avatars and engage them - and the audience - in an emotional conversation about feelings.

  • Project lead: Manuel Flurin Hendry
  • Contact:
  • CV: Manuel Flurin Hendry is a film director, screenwriter and lecturer in film directing at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).
  • PhD Advisors: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Neubauer, Prof. Anton Rey (Zurich University Of the Arts)
  • Scientific / artistic PhD in the discipline: Screenwriting/Dramaturgy

  • Funding: Research Grant, Zurich University of the Arts