Inspired by the legend of the Astronomical Clock in Prague, Cosmic Engine explores the architecture of time and space. And madness. The Cosmic Engine is a video and music performance loosely based around the legend of the Astronomical Clock of Prague, in which the 14th century rebuilder of the clock, Hanuš, was blinded by the Prague City Councilors after completing his work so that he could never build another clock that would surpass its beauty. The story of the clock provides a central emotional drama. The performance is structured into seven sections that conceptually follow the archetypal story of this legend, and explore themes of desire, fulfillment, possession and self-destruction.
The ensemble features soprano voice, clarinet and bass clarinet, acoustic and electric guitar, cello, and surround-sound interactive electronics. There are three channels of video, the main channel projected on the back wall of the stage behind the proscenium. The other two video channels are projected on side screens, one of which is constructed by the vocalist on stage during the performance.
Sonically, a timeless immersive experience is created from transformational processes which eliminates the objective observer status of the audience through the spatialization of sound. Independent, intersecting cycles of sound reflect the movement of the elements of the Prague Clock and how we as humans move and intersect in our daily lives. These independent cycles interact with each other and the sonic-ecology of the space, which the performers are an integral part of.
The video enriches the emotional environment provided by story and music, providing a sense of commentary, or distance through humor and other means. Sometimes the video transforms the space architecturally, sometimes it advances concepts of the archetypal story. The video does not function narratively in terms of representing the era of the original story, but parallels it with views of contemporary society, and by metaphorically engaging the concepts that are the foundation of each section. The video elements of The Cosmic Engine weave together many cycles of experience, mirroring the movement of the elements of the Prague Clock that create infinite combinations of ways of marking time, but from which, ironically, one can never actually glean any practical information, like, for instance, what time it is.