Everyone involved is necessary to its successful completion, but by the same token anyone can also make it fail.

 

It was the Czech writer Karel Čapek who first introduced the term ‘robot’; it was in his 1920 play RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots). Now, 100 years later, Post uit Hessdalen is presenting Man Strikes Back, a musical juggling performance that explores the symbiosis between man and robot.

In Man Strikes Back, the stage is occupied by five seemingly simple pyramid-shaped objects. Stijn Grupping juggles by making bouncy balls spring from one object to another and back again. The balls’ trajectories form an elegant and rhythmic linear pattern. Grupping and the robots together develop musical harmonies and the perfection of their execution depends on both the juggler’s precision and the willingness of the robots.

The pyramids take up new positions independently, and this gives rise to constantly changing patterns of juggling and musical harmonies. A real musical choreography is generated between the robot objects and the man. But who is directing whom? Who needs whom? Or is this an equally matched dance?

The more human the robots become, the more Stijn Grupping looks like a machine. It demands tremendous speed and precision to throw the bouncy balls at exactly the right place and at the prescribed rhythm so as to perform the composition correctly. The robots and the performer increasingly resemble each other. Everyone involved is necessary to its successful completion, but by the same token anyone can also make it fail.

Man Strikes Back is a musical performance by a human and robots for humans and robots of 6 years and older.

© Stijn Grupping