The Storytelling Machine transforms the public’s drawings into animated characters that roam the artwork’s video worlds. The machine delivers a randomly generated collective story created from public 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 determines what combination of characters and texts will be shown.

This work presents real-time graphics, never showing the same combination of information twice. Therefore the collective story is always different. The machine stores all content that has been entered over time. The more the work is exhibited, the more drawings and texts that are entered, the bigger the collective story becomes.

The collective story does not have a beginning, middle and end, it is 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 our 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 Storytelling Machine they relinquish control over them. The machine determines the narrative.



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


Betty Sargeant: Original Concept + Creative Director
Justin Dwyer: Technical Director
Peter Walker: Creative Coder
Andrew Ogburn: Music Composer + Audio Engineer

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; the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund and the Exertion Games Lab.