Petrushka’s Cry

A miniature version of a scene from the ballet Petrushka, originally choreographed by Michel Fokine for the Russian Ballet in Paris 1911 to music by Igor Stravinsky. Like an organ grinder it is the audience that initiates the ballerina’s circular movement, while the Petrushka puppet per- forms his lovingly animated dance. When the crank handle stops, Petrushka’s body ceases to interact due to gravity, and he slumps, inactive, resigned to his fate.

Petrushka’s computer directed body (70 cm) is built from aluminum and lexiglass plates, plastic pipes, a paper ball head, a spine of wood balls, wires, pipe-cleaners, seven servo engines, circuit cards, cables, screws and nuts. The mechanical ballerina body (75 cm) is a combination of metal poles, springs, a CD-disc, bobbinet, a gilt door bud and a watch head. The two puppets are placed on a velvet box (50x80x90cm³) that contains the grind mechanics, a water pump, a computer, electronics and loud speakers.


CHOREOGRAPHY AND MOVEMENT PROGRAMMING:
Åsa Unander-Scharin


PUPPETEER AND SOFTWARE:
Magnus Lundin Mechanics
and Åsa Unander- Scharin


MUSIC:
Carl Unander-Scharin


PERFORMANCES:
First Performance: The Dance Museum 2005, Stockholm
ARCO- International Art Fair, Madrid 2007
Studio Acusticum, Piteå, 2007
Art galleries and museums in Skellefteå , Örebro, Hudiksvall, Västerås, Luleå 2005-2007
Konstfack/ University of Arts, Crafts and Design, 2007
Moderna Dansteatern, Stockholm 2008
Dieselverkstan in Nacka 2008
Reaktorhallen, KTH, 2010
Swedish Royal Opera, 2012
Operadagen Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2012
Scenkonstbiennalen, Jönköping, 2013


VIDEO:
The Flock/Kerstin Grunditz



Fundación Telefónica
Special Prize
Åsa Unander-Scharin
“Petrushka’s Cry” 

Attributing emotions to inorganic beings is an archaic human ploy seen in the long history of puppets and effigies. The story of Petrouchka’s unrequited love for the Ballerina transfers this ancient fantasy to the realm of today’s interactive automata. In Asa Unander-Scharin’s installation, the audience literally winds up the Ballerina with a crank handle, and her pirouetting vertical figure releases magnetic signals that drive Petrouchka’s computer-choreographed movements and his falling tears, while controlling the electroacoustic remix of Stravinsky’s piano score. The Motographicon choreographic processing programme, of which the artist is a co-developer, is subtly used to maximise the affective qualities of Petrouchka’s gestures: he reaches out to the ballerina, straightens up hopefully, then sighs and slumps, resigned to his limits. The puppet has been built to allow these emotionally communicative postures to be emphasised, through fine adjustments of spine, head and arm movements. Whereas puppets described in Heinrich Von Kleist’s famous text are “not afflicted with the inertia of matter”, this figure is poignantly afflicted with the emotional and mechanical hold of the obliviously pirouetting ballerina. Gravity is manifest as the fatal attraction exerted on Petrouchka by the indifferent dancer, and as the weight of the doomed puppet’s feelings, its tears helplessly marking time like a metronome. 

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