The Wheel of Life, a transformational theater piece

Larry Friedlander, Stanford English Dept

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 27, 1995


In the Fall of 1993 Larry Friedlander, along with Professor Glorianna Davenport and students at the MIT Media Lab, created an experimental installation in the Villers theater at MIT called Wheel of Life: An Interactive Transforamtional Environment. This installation explored what happens when interactive technology expands beyond the computer box and moves into our daily environments. Wheel of Life drew its techniques from the worlds of theater, architectural design, cinema, and interactive computing to to create a new kind of space, one that was magically responsive to the visitors' presence and actions. As visitors moved through the various environments, they worked with partners who were seated outside of the installation at computer workstations to transform the spaces physically and to create stories and changing multimedia events. Using technology to create complex narrative spaces raises fascinating issues in the psychology of collaborative invention and in the design of spaces shared by people and machines. Friedlander will discuss the implication of this move 'out of the box' for the future of interface design and of interactive applications.
Click here for a longer description of the Wheel of Life


Larry Friedlander, a professor of English Literature and Theater at Stanford University, began working in multimedia design and applications in 1983 with the Shakespeare Project. In 1990 Friedlander formed the Interactive Shakespeare Group with Professors Donaldson and Murray from MIT to further explore this area. He has developed many applications in theater and education, and has worked in major research laboratories: At the Apple Multimedia Lab, the MIT Media Lab, and the Mitsubishi Electronic Research Laboratory among others. He is also heavily involved in museum design and planning, and is now advising the Museum of Scotland, a new national museum due to open in Edinburgh in 1999. He has done work with numerous other institutions such as the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, and is currently Osher Fellow at the San Francisco Exploratorium.


Titles and abstracts for all years are available by year and by speaker.

For more information about HCI at Stanford see

Overview Degrees Courses Research Faculty FAQ