Phoebe Sengers

Media Arts Research Studies 
Schloss Birlinghoven 
D-53754 Sankt Augustin, 

Phone +49-2241-14-2358
Fax +49-2241-14-2449
Wenzelgasse 31
D-53111 Bonn

Phone +49-228-9813920

U.S. Citizen



Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA  (8/90-8/98)
Self-defined Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence and Cultural Theory, August 1998
Home Department: Computer Science
Topic: Anti-Boxology: Agent Design in Cultural Context
Committee: Joseph Bates (Computer Science, chair)
                  Camilla Griggers (Cultural Theory)
                  Jill Fain Lehman (Computer Science)
                  Simon Penny (Art / Robotics)

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (8/86-5/90)
B.S. in Computer Science; minor in German.
Departmental Honors.

Work Experience

Media Arts Research Studies
German National Research Center for Information Technology (GMD),
Sankt Augustin, Germany (8/99-present)
Research Scientist

Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM), Karlsruhe, Germany (9/98-7/99)
Fulbright Scholar

Analyzed current technical, critical, and artistic approaches to avatars, and proposed new forms of avatar interfaces.

Naval Research Laboratory Connection Machine Facility, Washington, DC (7/87-8/90)
Researcher and User Consultant.

Built advanced applications to test and develop ideas for the use of the Connection Machine I and II.

Johns Hopkins Department of Computer Science, Baltimore, MD (1/89-5/89)
Research Assistant.
Studied the extent to which results of the theoretical models of parallel computation could be applied to real-world architectures.

Teaching Experience

Guest Lectures
Carnegie Mellon Department of Computer Science, Pittsburgh, PA (Fall 92-93)
Teaching assistant.
Johns Hopkins Department of Computer Science, Baltimore, MD (Spring 90)
Teaching assistant for Parallel Programming Laboratory, a graduate course.


US National Academy of Science
Project on Information Technology and Creativity (8/00-present)
Committee Member

2000 Conference on Digital Arts and Culture (8/00)

Program Committee

AAAI 1999 Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligence (11/99)

CMU Computer Science Departmental Review Committee (9/94-8/96)
Student Representative


SAFIRA, Supporting Affective Interactions in Real-time Applications (7/00)
European Union Information Society Technologies Program.


Lingua Franca, Tech Top 20 (7/99)
(named one of the "top 20 researchers changing the way we think about technology") 
Fulbright Fellowship (9/98-7/99)
AAAI Doctoral Consortium (8/96)
Office of Naval Research Allen Newell Graduate Fellowship (10/94-9/97)
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (8/90-8/93)
Johns Hopkins University Undergraduate Computer Science Award (5/90)
Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) (10/88)
Delta Phi Alpha (German Honor Society) (9/88)
Beneficial-Hodson Scholarship (8/96-5/90)
Maryland Distinguished Scholarship (8/96-5/90)
Dean's List (8/96-5/90)

Research Systems Built

The Influencing Machine (In progress)
Users enter a small room, onto which the computer projects child-like drawings, which are being generated in real time.  Users send the agent emotionally-laden postcards in order to affect the emotions expressed through the drawings.  Over the course of the interaction, the drawings develop from abstract scribbling to simple figures and scenes.
Traces (1/99-8/99)
Collaboration with Simon Penny, Jeffrey Smith, Andre Bernhard, Jamie Schulte.
An installation for the CAVE virtual reality environment which allows users to create full-body 'traces' of their bodily movements in 3 dimensions. Over time, the traces become ‘alive’ and interact with the user’s movements. I was responsible for avatar behavior. Traces received an honorary mention in the 1999 Ars Electronica competition.
The Industrial Graveyard (9/94-8/98)
Interactive fiction VE including two autonomous, animated characters with expressive behavior. Two discarded lamps eke out a miserable existence in a junkyard.
SoarWoggles (9/91-12/94)
The Woggles (see below) implemented in the Soar agent architecture.
The Edge of Intention (3/92-8/92)
Collaboration with 12 researchers of the CMU Oz Project.
An animated interactive simulated world with three autonomous creatures (“Woggles”) having distinct personalities. This work was built with twelve other researchers; I was responsible for assisting the main designer with the concept of the world, and with 3 others for building the behaviors of the creatures. Following its AAAI-92 debut, this piece appeared in exhibition at the Hewlett Gallery of Carnegie Mellon University in January 1993. It was made part of the permanent exhibition of the Boston Computer Museum in February 1993. It was selected for and shown at Machine Culture, the SIGGRAPH 1993 Art Show, Anaheim, CA, in August 1993. It won an Honorable Mention at Ars Electronica 1993, Linz, Austria, June 1993.

Publications and Talks


Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers, ed.  Narrative Intelligence. Advances in Consciousness Series.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, forthcoming.

Book Chapters

Phoebe Sengers.  "Narrative Intelligence."  In Human Cognition and Social Agent Technology. Ed. Kerstin Dautenhahn. Advances in Consciousness Series.  John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000.

Phoebe Sengers. "Fabrikation der Subjekte: Verdinglichung, Schizophrenie, und Kuenstliche Intelligenz." In Netzkritik: Materialien zur Internet-Debatte. Ed. Geert Lovink and Pit Schultz. Berlin: Edition ID-Archiv, 1997.

Phoebe Sengers. "Technological Prostheses: An Anecdote." ZKP-4 Net Criticism Reader. Ed. Geert Lovink and Pit Schultz. 1997.

Phoebe Sengers. "Fabricated Subjects: Reification, Schizophrenia, Artificial Intelligence." ZKP-2 Net Criticism Reader. Ed. Geert Lovink and Pit Schultz. 1996.

Journal Publications

Phoebe Sengers.  “Practices for Machine Culture: A Case Study of Integrating Artificial Intelligence and Cultural Theory.”  Surfaces.  Volume VIII, 1999.

Phoebe Sengers. "Madness and Automation: On Institutionalization." Postmodern Culture. May, 1995.

Phoebe Sengers. "Wallowing in the Quagmire of Language: Artificial Intelligence, Psychiatry, and the Search for the Subject." Cultronix. Summer, 1994.

Conference Publications

Phoebe Sengers. "Designing Comprehensible Agents." 1999 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-99). Stockholm, Sweden, August 1999.

Phoebe Sengers.  "Do the Thing Right: An Architecture for Action-Expression." Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Autonomous Agents.  May, 1998.  pp. 24-31.

Phoebe Sengers. "Symptom Management for Schizophrenic Agents."   AAAI-96. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press. Vol 2., page 1369.

Invited Lectures

Phoebe Sengers.  “Information Appliances, or, Proactive Nostalgia for the Kitchen of the Future.”  Symposium on Designing Our Future.  Rhode Island School of Design.  October 2000.

Phoebe Sengers.  "Narrative Agent Architecture."  Invited Talk, Workshop on Narrative and Interactive Learning Environments.  August 2000.

Phoebe Sengers. "Pathologies of the Avatar." Pennsylvania State University Department of English, March 2000.  Also presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Literature and Science, October 2000, and in an earlier version as an invited lecture at Wiretap 5.9, Phantom Bodies, V2, Rotterdam, September 1999.

Phoebe Sengers, "Avatar Interfaces." University of Karlsruhe Multi-media Forum, July 1999. Also presented at the Center for Art and Media Technology, Karlsruhe, July 1999.

Phoebe Sengers, "Narrative Agent Architecture." Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft fuer Kuenstliche Intelligenz (DFKI), Saarbruecken, May 1999.

Panel Presentations

Phoebe Sengers.  Respondent, “Interactive Characters.”  NYU Center for Advanced Technology Series “Media Art or Worse.”  November, 2000.

Phoebe Sengers.  "Critical Technical Practices."  Plenary panel organization and presentation.  Conference on Digital Arts and Culture.  Bergen, Norway.  August, 2000.

Phoebe Sengers.  Panel presentation on "Fiction 2001." SigGraph 2000.  July, 2000.

Phoebe Sengers. "Subjective Technologies." Panel organization and presentation. On "Inside / Outside: Reflections on Cultural Studies of Science." Society for Literature and Science. Atlanta, GA. November, 1996.

Phoebe Sengers. "How-To Tips for Interdisciplinary Communication." Panel presentation. On "You Just Don't Understand: Talking Across the Boundary at SLS." Society for Literature and Science. Atlanta, GA. November, 1996.

Conference Presentations

Phoebe Sengers. "The Influencing Machine: Avatar Interfaces and Affective Graphics." 1999 Conference on Digital Arts and Culture. Atlanta, GA, October 1999.

Phoebe Sengers. "Subjective Technologies."   International Symposium for Electronic Arts. Rotterdam, The Netherlands. September 1996.

Phoebe Sengers. "The Implicit Subjects of Artificial Intelligence." Presented at the annual conference of the Society for Literature and Science, Los Angeles, CA, October 1995.

Phoebe Sengers. "Fabricated Subjects: Reification, Schizophrenia, and Artificial Intelligence." Presented at Virtual Futures 1995, Coventry, UK, May 1995.

Workshop Presentations

Phoebe Sengers.  "Technology with a Human Face."  NIMIS Workshop on the School of the Future.  Kassell, Germany.  May 2000.

Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers. "Introduction to the Narrative Intelligence Symposium." AAAI 1999 Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligence.   Cape Cod, MA, November 1999.

Phoebe Sengers, "Planning for Human Comprehension." i3 Spring Days Workshop on Behavior Planning for Life-Like Characters, March 1999.

Phoebe Sengers. "Socially Intelligent Agent-Building." Proceedings of AAAI-97 Workshop on Socially Intelligent Agents.   Ed. Kerstin Dautenhahn.  November 1997.

Phoebe Sengers. "Socially Situated AI: What It Is and Why It Matters." AAAI-96 AI and Entertainment Workshop. Portland, OR, August 1996.

Phoebe Sengers. "Rethinking AI for Art and Entertainment." IJCAI-95 AI, Art, and Entertainment Workshop. Montreal, Canada, August 1995.

Phoebe Sengers. "So Much to Do, So Little Time: Reactive Agents Managing Multiple Simultaneous Behaviors in an Unpredictable Environment." 14th Soar Workshop.  Ann Arbor, Michigan, December, 1994.

Phoebe Sengers. "Using Culture to Understand Agents." AAAI Believable Agents Workshop. Palo Alto, CA, March 1994.

Phoebe Sengers. "Soar in Oz: Building Knowledge-Lean, Reactive Agents." 12th Soar Workshop. Los Angeles, CA, June, 1993.


Phoebe Sengers, Simon Penny, and Jeffrey Smith.  "Semi-Autonomous Avatars."  Poster presentation. 2000 International Conference on Autonomous Agents.  Barcelona, Spain.  June 2000. 

Phoebe Sengers.  Anti-Boxology: Agent Design in Cultural Context.  PhD Thesis, Carnegie Mellon University Department of Computer Science and Program in Literary and Cultural Theory.  Technical report CMU-CS-98-151.  Pittsburgh, PA. August, 1998.

Phoebe Sengers and Alma Whitten. "The Wizards of Oz." Mademoiselle. September 1994. (a popular article describing what it is like to work in Artificial Intelligence) 


References Available Upon Request