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 wooden triangles. 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. Musician Frederik Meulyzer picks up the rhythm with his drums. Together they compose musical harmonies and the perfection of their execution depends on both the juggler’s precision and the reaction speed of the drummer.

Until the wooden triangles begin to mix. They take up new positions, and this gives rise to constantly changing patterns of juggling and musical harmonies. A real musical choreography is generated between the triangles, the juggler and the musician. But who is directing whom? Who needs whom? Or is this an equally matched dance?

The more lively the robot-triangles become, the more the juggler becomes 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 performers increasingly resemble each other. Everyone involved is necessary to its successful completion, but just as well 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. ©Karolina  Maruszak