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Wednesday, July 3, 2019


(Julien Mellano at his desk)

One of the most riveting mixes of human capacity and sound technology I have ever seen. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Erzatz, which had five performances at the 2019 National Arts Festival, is part of the Creativate Digital Arts Festival. This is described as “a digital playground for adventurous artists and curious audiences. It reveals spaces where technology and the arts converge. It presents a world of opportunity for bold creators, our planet’s new explorers, limited only by the power of their imagination.” The festival is curated by Toby Shapshak, Tony Lankester and Lauren Fletcher.

Ersatz is Julien Mellano’s “freely fantastised projection of a future man. A potential monster, this man is the absurd result of the alchemy between humans and machines.”

The stage is blackened behind a set of bright-white lit screens, with three more fronting the desk at which the man sits.

The production is punctuated by a series of bleeps and knocks, the man’s eyebrows often raising and lowering with the sounds. There are different creaky sounds as he moves, almost as if they come from his spinal column as he turns from side to side. There are also sounds as he eats and swallows as well as when he hits his head.

The man occasionally makes sounds that we can see, otherwise he controls noises from a microphone placed inside his mouth. With it all, he creates much humour. Brilliant stuff.

On the desk beside him, or from inside the desk, he takes out a number of cleverly created cut-out “magnetised shapes” which look like parts of a jigsaw puzzle which he joins together … and suddenly there is a helmet which later develops into a monkey head. Or a pair of goggles. There is also a long bone which gets detached to represent a number of purposes, including a gun.

There is also an intricate bundle of cord entwined to look like a brain which has a USB port which he plugs into a laptop shape he has created. Another set of magnetised shapes create a white helmet, giving the image of Monkey communicating with Man.

This was one of the most riveting mixes of human capacity and sound technology I have ever seen. All kudos as well to lighting and stage management, Sebastien Thomas. -  Caroline Smart

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