Anthroposcene

Feb. 1, 2018, 21:00 Festival ECLAT, Theaterhaus Stuttgart (UA)
Feb. 12, 2018, 21:00 Festival Scène d’Europe, Comédie de Reims
Feb. 15, 2018, 19:00 DIE GROSSE Kunstausstellung NRW, Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf

An experimental music theater project by Laurent DURUPT, concept and composition / Fabian OFFERT, concept and stage / Jan ROHWEDDER, concept and choreography / Caroline CREUTZBURG, costume design / Stanislas DELANNOY, percussion / Vianney DESPLANTES, euphonium and flugabone / Carina GRAF, production manager / Stine HERTEL, performance / Emma LANDARRABILCO, flutes / Vincent MARTIN, percussion / Trami NGUYEN, piano / Anna SCHEWELEW, performance / Camilla VETTERS, performance

A New Music Theater

The notion of Anthropocene, although coined already in the 1980s, has only recently become the catch phrase of a scientific community turned political. Its proponents understand the present as the first independent geological epoch that is actively shaped by human influence, with climate change as the most compelling evidence.

A conference on climate change, photo © M. Sigmund

We are interested in the role that music theater can play within the predominantly scientific discourse of the Anthropocene. Music theater, historically, has almost exlusively dealt with human relations, leaving the environment as a mere backdrop for the display of social issues. With environmental issues becoming social issues in times of the Anthropocene, music theater has to re-think its place as a medium of critique. We argue that the Anthropocene not only warrants a change of topics but a revolution of form, a new aesthetics that is able to handle the challenges of this epoch. The music theater of the Anthropocene will be a non-anthropocentric music theater!

Destruction, photo © M. Sigmund

This is why, in the Anthroposcene project the environment is an actor on stage, an equal participant in the theatrical dialog. The theater space is transformed into a laboratory that, unlike Buckminster Fuller‘s famous spaceship earth, has at least some emergency exits. The setting, however, is the same as on the planetary scale: a closed space full of people, limited time, and uncertain results.

Reconstruction, photo © M. Sigmund

Changing Perspectives

To enable this non-anthropocentric perspective, we have developed a theatrical and computational system that utilizes experimental technologies to create ever-changing, fictional landscapes, both musically and visually, questioning and sharpening the audience’s perception of, and perspective on, the environment.

The core visual device to foster this change of perspective is the top-down view: a literal top-down view, as it is created through satellite imagery, and a metaphorical top-down view that establishes a feeling for the complexity and precariousness of the environment in times of the anthropocene. Our computational system generates fictional satellite images from the live video stream provided by a digital camera attached to the ceiling of the theater space, utilizing a generative artificial neural network.

GAN-generated, imaginary satellite images of Stuttgart, Germany