Lost Objects (Prag, 2015)

The terrorist attacks in France at the beginning of November shocked the world public - the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the parole Je Suis Charlie become a global signal for solidarity with the victims and France, while the masses of refugees on their way to Europe, also as an aftermath movement to overwhelmingly positive reactions to the Arab Spring, reach national proportions. Lost is a state that is immediately accessible to every progressive or conservative person alike these days. Five years after the first exhibition of Garden of Error and Decay in Wuhan, the artist duo Michal Bielicky and Kamila B. Richter were commissioned to stage an opera by David Lang, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and librettist Deborah Artman at the Prague National Theater. Without further ado, the stage is completely digitized: ultra-thin, translucent fiberglass sheets replace the stage design, Jitka Burgetová (soprano), Jana Horáková Levicová and Lucie Hilscherová (both mezzo-soprano) disappear behind the scattered projection screens. Lost Objects imbues the self-sufficient and sheltered National Theater stage with a figurative, immaterial flow of information using verbatim libretto illustrations. The simple geometric structures and movement patterns, as well as the reduction of people to pictograms, is so remarkably close to the original text of the libretto that a more faithful translation into figurative characters hardly seems possible. The aspiration to create an universal language for all messages is most clearly expressed here, the last version in a succession of the Falling and Garden series and also shows most clearly what the most prevalent source of human error in decaying communication is: an immobile, rigid score that is not negotiable.

Computer, projector, software, fiberglass panels, stage, orchestra pit: Vector graphics of pictograms are animated using the object-oriented scripting language ActionScript and played in the form of a custom made Flash projector, an executable file, in the Flash player in 11 acts. Adobe will stop supporting and distributing Flash in 2020.

Paul Kenig