Terminal Time
by Paul Vanouse

Terminal Time is a history "engine:" a machine which combines historical events, ideological rhetoric, familiar forms of TV documentary, consumer polls and artificial intelligence algorithms to create hybrid cinematic experiences for mass audiences that are different every single time. History as it was meant to be told!

Through an audience response-measuring device (applause-meter) connected to a computer, viewing audiences respond to periodic questions reminiscent of marketing polls. These questions occur every 6 minutes during the story. The loudest applause determines the winning answer.

Your answers to these questions allow the computer program to create historical narratives that mirror and even exaggerate your biases and desires. Just clap, watch and enjoy. At long last, Terminal Time gives you the history you deserve!

The Terminal Time engine uses the past 1,000 years of world history as "fuel" for creating these custom-made historical documentaries. Each program generated by the machine can be either projected on a screen or broadcast on television monitors. (Although the video and sound are constructed in the computer, the signal is compatible with standard video technology.) Each program lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Visit the Terminal Time Web site


Paul Vanouse is an artist using electronic media to explore contemporary culture. He employs sociology and "big-science" in interactive artworks designed for mass-audiences. His interactive installations, exploring everything from the hand-gesture language of the Chinese Opera to the OJ Simpson affair to the Visible Human Project, have been exhibited in Germany, France, Chile, Canada, The Netherlands, Denmark and in numerous venues across the United States. Most recently, his Consensual Fantasy Engine (1995) was shown at the Louvre in Paris.

He has taught at the University of California, San Diego and at Carnegie Mellon University, and held research fellowships at the Center for Research and Computing in the Arts at UCSD and the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon. Since 1997, Vanouse's work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council for the Humanities. He's now working on a collective project called "Terminal Time," concerned with rewriting the history of the world as an interactive cinematic experience.

Dr. Eric H. Nyberg, 3rd is a research computer scientist at the Language Technologies Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics from Carnegie Mellon in 1992, and his B.A. in Computer Science from Boston University in 1983. Dr. Nyberg worked for 3 years in the Knowledge Based Systems group at GTE Laboratories before joining CMU in 1986. He has authored or co-authored over 60 papers, technical reports and presentations in the areas of natural language processing, machine translation, and language prosthesis for the speech-impaired.

Dr. Nyberg's most recent work in the area of machine text is the realitymachine, a Burroughs/Gysin-style cutup engine, with support for user submission of raw text, editing of machine results, and saving of results for group browsing. realitymachine made its debut in the the June '97 edition of SWITCH.