HALLERSTEIN - intermedia performance in Maribor Slovene National Theatre

Hallerstein, itermedia performance
Friday 30 October 2009 at 8 pm
Maribor Slovene National Theatre

Dance: Edward Clug
Live vocals: Cameron Bobro
Live calligraphy: Huiqin Wang

Hallerstein intermedia performance celebrates the 253rd anniversary of his death and the international year of astronomy (2009). Named after Hallerstein is the asteroid 1507 Hallerstein, which was discovered in 1999 by astronomers of Črni Vrh observatory.


Hallerstein European project has been conceived to connect the European and Chinese culture. The concept
of the two-year Hallerstein project integrates cultural heritage, performing arts and sophisticated technologies.
This project of dual nature connects historic documents with the contemporary research-oriented artistic production, thus establishing a link between the past and the present, between Europe and China.

Ferdinand Augustin Hallerstein was a researcher in fields of astronomy, cartography, mathematics, religion
and politics. A missionary, scientist and Jesuit, he was close to the Chinese emperor in years 1739-1774. He
travelled by ships and on horseback for three years and then remained at Beijing astronomy observatory for 35 years. He would engage in correspondence and keep a close contact with the Chinese emperor Qianlong, a perfectly educated man who was interested in Jesuit science, particularly mathematics and astronomy. He
was generally a great patron of art. Two men of completely diverse cultural backgrounds thus developed
mutual understanding and debated on scientific and cultural topics, which is testified by letters preserved in archives around the world.

HALLERSTEIN, intermedia performance

Dance: Edward Clug
Live vocals: Cameron Bobro
Live calligraphy: Huiqin Wang
Idea: Huiqin Wang
Integral concept: Aleksandra Kostič
Direction and dramaturgical assistance: Vlado G. Repnik
Script: Luka Dekleva, Huiqin Wang, Aleksandra Kostič
Choreography: Edward Clug
Music: Cameron Bobro
Video manipulation: Luka Dekleva
Lighting design: David Orešič
Visual templates: Huiqin Wang
Animation based on visual templates: Alen Breznik, Antony Pilette, Luka Dekleva
Animation production: KID KIBLA
Production of 3D objects: Evita Alle
Production of 3D objects: Instituto Politecnico de Tomar, Portugal
Sensory system/movement capture: CIANT, Prague
Sistemec mo_cap: Michal Masha
Implementing the puppet in the sensory system: Ivor Diosi
Production of a 3D environment: Ivor Diosi
Production: KID KIBLA, Maribor, Slovenia
Maribor Slovene National Theatre, Slovenia
CIANT, Prague, The Czech Republic
Instituto Politecnico de Tomar, Portugal

Hallerstein Project integrates cultural heritage, performing arts and new technologies.

Project coordinated by:
KID KIBLA, Slovenia
Advisor: Peter Tomaž Dobrila
Beijing Language and Culture University – Institute for Sinological Studies, China
CIANT – International Center for Art and New Technologies, The Czech Republic
Instituto Politecnico de Tomar, Portugal
University of Minho - Confucius Institute, Portugal
Korotan Slovenian Cultural Association, Austria

Hallerstein Project is supported by:
EACEA, Culture programme, European Union
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia
City of Maribor


The story of Hallerstein serves as a source of artistic inspiration. The artistic world intertwined in it embodies the universal contrast between diverse languages, cultural and historical barriers, the relation between the traditional and the modern, between science and art, between the East and the West, between European and Chinese cultures, between the left and the right, up and down, between the depth and the surface... The integration of contrasts is the fundamental key to understanding the world in alchemy, tarot and artistic creations of the 20th century art avant-garde guru, Marcel Duchamp.

The Hallerstein performance is not oriented towards dramatic tension originating in historic background, which tells about the traditionalist Chinese refusal of European culture and politics and the subsequent European own refusal of the enlightened Jesuit order. Rather, the representation of artistic visions in visual art as well as dance and music is based on the changing state of things that do not relate to the human guilt, to the cause and consequence as brought to our awareness. Various aesthetic spiritual bodies are found floating on stage, moving through virtual space and time in occasional integrations of control and submission. Observation of space was also the final way out for Hallerstein, too old to return to his homeland, although longing to do so.

The multilayered approach connects several fields of aesthetic observation into a stage performance. Visuals works of art, graphic works, calligraphy and paintings by Huiqin Wang depict characters, letters, scientific symbols and portraits of Hallerstein – although there is no historic image of him to be found in archives apart from some descriptions – at the same time serving as parts of the scenery. Furthermore, the use of video, three-dimensional graphic objects and environments, animation and the seeming infinite virtual space serve to replace the physical environment on stage.

The virtual shade puppet is manipulated by the dancer through a system of digital data transmission of sensory spatial movement tracing. A traditional Chinese two-dimensional puppet of huge dimensions is moving across the screen in infinite spatial loops slightly reminiscent of cosmic endlessness yet oriented and bound to the dancer exclusively. Edward Clug thus discovers its boundaries as well as his own, extending between power and submission, between spatial freedom and limitations, between curiosity and experience, between discovery and desire to return to the initial position, between escape and entrapment – a series of symbolic and psychological contrasts in movement. As he breaks free from the puppet and begins to move without the sensors, his seeming freedom in the second loop is again caught within the limitations that the human body and mind cannot cross.

The basso profondo voice of Cameron Bobro, the timeless narrator of Hallerstein, interprets the story through songs and tunes of centuries past and through traditional music, both European and Chinese. Jesuit music approaches are intertwined with the Chinese, both being based on philosophy. Bobro, a creator of orchestration, transforms those into microtonal music based on numerous colourful tones that are to be found between the black and white piano keys.
The development of tools, interfaces and techniques has integrated European and Chinese partners of Hallerstein project from fields of performing and visual arts as well as engineers and researchers in fields of computer science, robotics and electronics. Pure technological development, if not executed in cooperation with creative workers and artists, leads nowhere. 3D computer-generated environments featuring active participation of users have been used widely in computer-gaming industry, and that is the experience that Hallerstein partly uses and introduces into performing arts.
(Aleksandra Kostič)

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