Nov 15, 2011 View Comments
Described as “…a computer designed to analyse and decompose Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Rambler’s Lullaby II”, on the page, The Machine’s chattering, clattering stream of data at first looks like book music for an organ or the kind of game listing I would have typed into my beloved Spectrum 48k.
It’s neither of these things, but the comparisons are interesting. Written in 1968 by author, filmmaker and Oulipoist Georges Perec, The Machine is in fact a radio play, adapted for live performance by Sheffield-based performance artists Third Angel in Sheffield just last month.
The play’s story borrows the forms and restrictions of computer programs, but it’s a lot more interactive than its monolithic title suggests. Not so much in the dazzling – and often very funny – back and forth between the computer’s separate processors as they attempt to fathom Goethe’s poem about solitude by (for instance) substituting its nouns for fairy tale motifs, as in the audience’s slow assimilation into its subroutines and algorithms…