*My first name is pronounced Migel, with a silent 'u'. Following the Spanish naming conventions, I have two last names: Escobar Varela. Either or both can be used in formal situations.
I am a web developer, translator and theatre researcher who has lived in Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore and Indonesia. I work as Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore and Academic Advisor on Digital Scholarship at the NUS Libraries. I also direct the Contemporary Wayang Archive and convene Digital Humanities Singapore. My main research interests are Indonesian theatre and digital humanities. If you want to get in touch, please drop me a line: m [dot] escobar [at] nus [dot] edu [dot] sg or follow me @migueljogja.
Code and data for my projects is available on GitHub @villaorlado.
My book Theater as Data is forthcoming with University of Michigan Press (August 2021). It will be available in print and as an Open Access edition via Fulcrum. The book explores the place of computational methods for theatre research. A web companion will include videos, datasets and sample code.
Digital Research Projects:
My PhD dissertation on contemporary Indonesian theatre was awarded the Wang Gungwu Medal for the best dissertation in Humanities and Social Sciences (2015), and an honorary mention in the Award for Excellence in Digital Theatre and Performance Scholarship 2016 by ATHE. It is available at wayangkontemporer.com
The Contemporary Wayang Archive (CWA) is a digital archive of new versions of Java's oldest performance tradition: wayang kulit. This archive includes full-length video recordings, performance data, translations, and notes by the editors and translators of how the performances were received in their original context.
The Interactive Wayang Screen (with Daniel Sim) is a Tangible User Interface for the Contemporary Wayang Archive that uses traditional components of the Javanese wayang kulit puppet theatre and Arduino sensors. It received the award for Best Contribution to Creative Communication by ACM Creativity and Cognition 2017.
The Biomechanical analysis of Javanese dance (with Luis Hernández Barraza) is a portal that uses biomechanical measurements (such as range of motion) to analyze differences among character types in Javanese dance. Character typology is a central concept in Javanese dance discourse and this project aims to bring together a biomechanical analytical toolkit and Javanese intellectual traditions of dance scholarship.
The Digital Wayang Encyclopedia is a data-driven online dictionary of the main characters and storylines of Javanese wayang kulit theatre. It includes network visualizations and quantitative analyses of character relations.
M. Escobar Varela and L. Hernández-Barraza. 'Digital Dance Scholarship: Biomechanics and culturally-situated dance analysis' in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities Vol 35, Issue 1 (2020).
M. Escobar Varela. 'Towards a digital, data-driven wayang kulit encyclopedia: histories, experiments and epistemological reflections' in Indonesia and the Malay World Vol. 47, Issue 137 (2019).
M. Escobar Varela, M. Stanley-Baker and A. Nanetti 'The Digital Humanities in Singapore' in R. Wong, H. Li and M Chou (eds), Digital Humanities and Scholarly Research Trends in the Asia-Pacific Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global (2019).
M. Escobar Varela. 'The dramaturgy of theatre fieldtrips: studying cultural relativism in situ' in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance (2019).
M. Escobar Varela. 'What is an intercultural exchange?' in M. Bleeker, H. Roms, A. Kear, & J. Kelleher (eds.), Thinking Through Theatre and Performance. London: Methuen Bloomsbury (2019).
A. Schauf and M. Escobar Varela. 'Searching for hidden bridges in co-occurrence networks from Javanese wayang kulit' in Journal of Historical Network Research Vol. 2, No 1 (2018), pp. 26-52.
M. Escobar Varela and Nala H. Lee. 'Language documentation: a reference point for theatre and performance archives?' in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media Vol. 14, No 1 (2018), pp. 17-33.
M. Escobar Varela and Gea Oswah Fatah Parikesit. 'A Quantitative Close Analysis of a Theatre Video Recording' in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities Vol. 32, No 2 (2017), pp. 276-283.
M. Escobar Varela. 'From Copper-Plate Inscriptions to Interactive Websites: Documenting Javanese Wayang Theatre' in Toni Sant (ed) Documenting Performance: The Context and Processes of Digital Curation and Archiving (London; New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017), pp. 203–14.
M. Escobar Varela. 'The Archive as Repertoire: Transience and Sustainability in Digital Archives', in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 4 (2016).
M. Escobar Varela. 'Heirlooms of the Everyday: The Material Performances of Slamet Gundono' in Theatre Research International, Vol. 41 No. 1 (2016), pp. 53-69.
M. Escobar Varela. 'Hacking and Rehearsing, Experiments in Creative Tinkering' in New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 01 (2016), pp. 68-77.
M. Escobar Varela. 'Interoperable Performance Research: Promises and Perils of the Semantic Web' in TDR, Vol. 60, No. 3 (2016), pp. 136-147.
M. Escobar Varela. 'The essay/ontology workflow, challenges in combining formal and interpretive methods' in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2016), pp. 84-94.
M. Escobar Varela. 'Wayang Hip Hop: Java's Oldest Performance Tradition Meets Global Youth Culture' in Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 (2014), pp. 481-504.
M. Escobar Varela and Paul Rae. 'International, A Dialogue' in Contemporary Theatre Review, Special Issue: The Politics, Processes and Practices of Editing, Vol. 25, Issue 1 (2015).
M. Escobar Varela. 'Between Radical Adaptation and Strategic Adaptability: Ki Catur "Benyek" Kuncoro in Conversation with Miguel Escobar' in Margherita Laera (ed), Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (London: Methuen, 2014).
M. Escobar Varela. 'The Intermedial Interrogation of Memory' in Performance Research, Vol. 17, Issue 3 (2012), pp. 33-38.
M. Escobar Varela. 'Nieuwe-mediafestivals als Voedingsbodem voor Diversiteit' [New Media Festivals as Seedbeds for Diversity] in Boekman Tijdsdschrrft, Vol. 83 (2010), pp. 88-92.
M. Escobar Varela. 'Ruang Rupa: Experimental Video Workshops and Activism in Indonesia' in Paul de Buryne and Pascal Gielen (eds), Community Art: The Politics of Trespassing (Amsterdam: Valiz, 2010), pp. 287-298.
Papers in academic conferences
I am often a guest performer/rapper with Wayang Hip Hop in Indonesia (Second from left in the image).
I was a performer in The Mountain (dir. Felipe Cervera), in the 2014 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival: Art and the People (Second from left in the image).