Three variations on the metamorphosis from chaos to order
A reign of light
Clarity on two mountains
the mountain of animals
the mountain of gods.
But between them the dusky
valley of men.
Sometimes, one of them looks up.
He is gripped, he imagines,
by an unquenchable longing,
he who knows he knows not,
for those who know not
that they do not know
and for those who know that they know
Paul Klee, 1903
ACTOR #1 is a project consisting of three separate parts – MASS, HUMINID and DANCER #3 – which together form a single thematic entity. They are performed in three different rooms at the same venue.
One of the starting points for this work was the history of the creation of the 'homunculus', the artificial miniature human that philosophers, alchemists and scientists have sought over the centuries since Greek Antiquity. ACTOR #1 is about genesis: what has, is or might come into being. Three variations on the metamorphosis from chaos to order.
The first part, called MASS, shows an odd, poetic landscape: a sort of moving milk‐white snowy carpet or a dance of thick clouds of mist that keep out the light. It might be the 'state' at the beginning of time, but there is no divine creator around. This matter moves independently and determines its own energy. We are witness to chemical and physical processes in which changes take place organically, by chance and without interruption.
In the second part, HUMINID, we are addressed directly by a creature that can be called part human and part doll: halfway between human and thing, halfway between life and death. Is it a human that wants to become a doll/thing or rather the reverse? In his Faust II (1832) Goethe describes how Mephistopheles and his helper Wagner bring a small artificial being to life in a phial (a flask). The Huminid shown here is simultaneously both flask and being, womb and embryo. He is made of dead matter, is a not‐anything, but his heart beats and he breathes. He is still unfinished. He grows inside his pod, he wants to 'be', but at the same time there is the knowledge that he is not viable outside the flask. He talks ceaselessly. He exists only in language. The actor Johan Leysen is not physically present, but has lent his voice and face for this piece. The script of HUMINID was inspired by Samuel Beckett's Lessness.
The third part, DANCER #3, again shows a different type of energy: we see a robot trying to stand up straight; he always falls down again, but never gives up. He endures this process of trial and error cheerfully and indefatigably. The machine gets to know its own potential. The energy of this automaton is infectious. His clumsiness and constant failure display the optimism of a clown who's always tripping over.
'The highest of beings is at rest as if he were dead, and in his movements he is like a machine.' – Lieh‐Tzu, 5th century BC
Text : Marianne Van Kerkhoven