The Machine – The World Reduced to our Senses




The semester project «The Machine – The World Reduced to our Senses» was the challenging task to transform a visionary short novel into a scenographic spatial format. The students were free in their interpretation to create a physically accessible theatre, movie set, performance, audio play, movie, animation or art installation.

The project was based on «The Machine stops», a science fiction short story by the English writer E.M. Forster – first published 1909. The text creates references to current totalitarian systems, surveillance states and problems of the digital age, like Big Data or the transparent human being. The story is contrasted and opposed by the strong desire of the protagonist for real experienceable spatial and emotional perception. The project aimed to stage «The machine stops» by means of Scenography. The task of the students was to detect and investigate the spatial, narrative and dramaturgical potentials of the text and translate this to an accessible installation.

«KOSMOS» by Kathrin Mast

The concept is based on the short story „The Machine Stops“ by E.M.Foster. A dystopian future scenario, which is probably the earliest description of our modern internet age. Foster describes a world in which people live in isolation below underground. A life on earth the way we know it is no longer possible. All physical and spiritual needs are controlled by a giant and global machine. People of this world communicate via instant messaging and videoconference and while they do so, they forget that the machine is man-made. The machine slowly starts to break due to small operational errors. Foster‘s short story ends with the fall of the machine.

My film concept of a utopian future scenario „Kosmos“ begins at the end of Foster‘s story. The end of the machine world picks up the history of Kuno and the way he came back on the surface of the earth. After Kuno returned to earth he meets Rona and her world .At first they try to communicate, yet it fails. Kuno is able to break the barriers with a new network. Soon they find a way to communicate through the connection of the two worlds which transform into a new one. A cosmos defined by a digitally connected world where technology is utilized as progress and means, moreover where man is the measure.

The concept reflects my personal attitude to current topics and Foster‘s short story. With his story, a century in advance Foster was able to illustrate the current problems of the internet age. One aspect that is fascinating is his detailed and vivid language. My story relates to the beautiful aspects of technology along with a new awareness for natur and humans. And the moral of this story: A worthy living with technology. It depends on us how we use it and when we draw the line. The pictures for the different scenes were created through various collage layers. After finishing the framework for the narration I animated the pictures with After Effects. The music is a mix of various noises, sound samples and recorded voices.

«A new Era has arisen» by Despina Simeonidou

The text of the film and sound installation «A new Era has arisen» creates references to current totalitarian systems, surveillance states and problems of the digital age - Machines - Our Revolutionary Heirs.

The aim was to create a spatial movie (Raumfilm) that is to say the creation of new spaces by narrative moving images (Bewegbilder). The performance of the installation took place in a completely dark hall. The four coordinated films were projected onto four projection walls.

Head of project: Prof. Uwe R. Brückner, Basel

Audio Expert: Ramon de Marco, Basel

Dramatic adviser: Heike Dürscheid, Basel

Assistant: Martina Ehleiter, Basel


Prof. Uwe R. Brückner

, Studio Scenography & Exhibition Design

Prof. Andreas Wenger

, Studio Scenography & Exhibition Design

Ruth Scheel, Martina Ehleiter

, Studio Scenography & Exhibition Design